Monday, February 05, 2007

Commonwealth War Graves

John Richard Goodall 1892 - 26/9/1916

In this previous post I wrote about the Goodall family of Castleford, where three brothers went off to serve in France in WW1. I said that I had no idea what happened to the brothers after they enlisted in 1915. However, after reading George G. Morgan's article in his Along Those Lines column - "In search of the Graves of our War Dead" - I decided to have a look in the Commonwealth War Graves database. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was established in 1917 to mark and maintain the graves of the war dead from Commonwealth countries.

I was amazed by the depth of the database and the extremely useful genealogical information that it contains for some of the entries. Searching for the three Goodall brothers, I only found an entry for John Richard Goodall - hopefully the other brothers survived.

Therefore less than one year after the triumphant news article in the local Castleford 'paper annou- ncing that three patriotic brothers had enlisted JR Goodall had died in France. It appears as if John Richard received a promotion prior to his death as he is recorded as being a Corporal.

He is buried in the Sains-en-Gohelle cemetery based in an old mining settlement (just like Castleford). It is 20km North of Arras and 10km West of Lens. It was started in April 1916 and men continued to be burried there until 1918. A total of 472 casualties are laid to rest, 257 from the UK, 214 from Canada, and 1 Australian.

The 10th batallion of the York & Lancaster regiment was formed in September 1914 in Pontrefract, West Yorkshire. I presume JR Goodall must have joined soon after this date if he was already in action in France in 1915. I have tried to find out information about which battle this batallion was fighting on the 26/9/1916 but have been unable to so far. It could well be the Battle of the Somme which lasted from June to November 1916.

The Commonwealth War Graves database is an excellent resource. In my family history I think I am unusual in having so few solider ancestors. Most of my relatives were in reserved occupations so did not serve overseas. Of those brothers and cousins who did serve, most came back. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth War Graves website is certainly deserving of our support for their excellent work.

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