Sapper George GOODWIN


Regiment/Service:
Royal Engineers
Unit:
216th Army Troops Company
Service Number:
91815
Date of Death:
25 March 1917 - Died (Home)
Age:
40
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
South East of Church.


Personal History:

George was born in the September quarter 1876, the son of George (Farm Bailiff) and Harriett (Dairy Maid) Goodwin of Farm House, Fairfield, Buxton. He had five older siblings, Mary Jane, Emma, William Humphrey, Elizabeth Anne and Sarah, and four younger ones, Jeremiah, Hannah, Robert and Harriett. (1881 Census RG 11/2455)

Ten years later (1901 Census RG 12/2779) the family had moved to Alma Cottages, Fairfield, and George was working as a "Farm Labourer". The 1901 Census gives his occupation as "Stonemason", the same occupation as his father, and shows him still living at the home of his parents, 4 Nall Cottages, Fairfield.

In the June quarter 1908 George married Elizabeth Jane Lomas (née Lomas), later of 123 Fairfield Road, Buxton. In 1911 (Census RG 14/21233) they lived at 145 Fairfield Road, with their young son, Robert, and Elizabeth's three sons from her former marriage, Harry (see Footnote below), Reginald and James. (Elizabeth had been married to James Lomas (Blacksmith) who died in the March quarter 1904.) George was employed as a "Stonemason".

In reporting on his funeral 'The Buxton Advertiser' stated that he was a ".. much respected Brother .." of the local R.A.O.B. Lodge and that ".. Brother Dale read the Buffaloes' service at the graveside."

Military History:
Unfortunately, George's Service Records have not survived, but in reporting on his funeral, 'The Buxton Advertiser' (7th April 1917) stated that he enlisted into the Royal Engineers, at Buxton, on the 24th October 1915. It also stated that he had been invalided home from France ".. a month ago ..", i.e. February 1917, and that he had been in France for 13 months, suggesting he was posted there in January 1916.

"Army Troops" was a term given to any unit (which could be infantry, engineers, artillery etc) that was under the direct command of an Army HQ, as opposed to the command of one of its subsidiary levels such as a Corps.  An Army Troops Company of the Royal Engineers reported to the Commander Royal Engineers of an Army. Under normal circumstances an Army Troops Company worked on large engineering works well behind the lines, such as water supplies and bridging.

George's 216th (Nuneaton) Army Troops Company RE was raised in 1915 and sent to join the BEF. The Company was in Buxton from September 1915 to January 1916. It was during this time that George joined the Company.

The account linked below gives some indication of the training in Buxton from a first-hand account:

"We were in civvy billets for about a month and then we moved into the Grosvenor and Kensington
Hotels in Broad Walk. Now. our R.E. training began in earnest. On wet days there was knotting and
lashing in the ballroom of the Pavilion Gardens. Outside we practised Pontoon Bridging on the lakes
in the gardens and heavy bridging, up Lightwoods Road, over a chasm. There was route marching
at various times and earthworks (trenching) on Axe Edge. At the Cheshire Regt. Rifle Range on
Coombs Moss we went to fire a course of shooting using the Lee Enfield."

On the night of 26/27th January 1916 they left Buxton in the early hours for Southampton and on the
night of the 27th embarked for Le Havre and was posted to First Army. George immediately
entrained for Abbeville and the next day on the Doullens. On the 30th January he left for Bethune
and on to Noeux-les-Mines where the Company marched to Mazingarbe.

George had been in Mazingarbe just one week when the Company had its first casualties. "It was on the Sunday night, ten minutes to nine, February 6th. Some were lying down, four were playing cards, when a German shell scored a direct hit. We lost seven killed and quite a few wounded." It is possible that the reason George was invalided home resulted from this attack.

'The Buxton Advertiser' reported that George was invalided home a month before he died in Newcastle Hospital, from Dysentery, on Sunday, 25th March 1917, and his body was brought back to his home in Fairfield on the 28th. His funeral took place on Saturday the 31st.

                                      

Footnote:
· George's stepson, Private G/4853 Harry LOMAS, Middlesex Regiment, was killed in action on the 16th August 1916.

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 7 April 1917
· "Arthur Daulman - formation and history of 216 Fortress Company R.E"

Link to CWGC Record
St Peter's Church, Fairfield, Buxton
George Goodwin's Grave
Bridge Building up Lighwood Road, Buxton
Bridge Building up Lightwood Road, Buxton
poppy
....... about the 216th Company