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66 Squadron, RFC & RAF, 1916 to 1919

Goodman, Gilbert Anthony


Gilbert GoodmanGilbert A. Goodman transferred from the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment to the Royal Flying Corps in December 1917 after suffering a wound whilst on active service in France. He had at various times suffered from ill health and this reduced the amount of time he spent on active service. He was one of at least two of many who had been wounded whilst on active service and later served with the RFC. After flying training he was posted to 66 Squadron in Italy arriving with the squadron on 15 September 1918. He took part in the normal run of operations in Italy, offensive, escort and the bombing patrols, which became a feature of the squadrons work just before the Austrian cease-fire on 4 November 1918. But unlike the majority of his squadron comrades he was not to return to England. He was KIA on the 28 October 1918 and is buried in Tezze cemetery.

Early Life & Early War

Gilbert Anthony Goodman was born on the 5th July 1895, the son of Alfred William Goodman, Barrister-at-Law and Penelope Mary Goodman of 1 Cloisters, Temple, London and ‘Lessness House’, Belvedere, Kent. From 1909 to 1913 he attended Westminster School and ultimately sat the London University Matriculation examination, passing in English, Maths, Latin, Greek and French. Following the outbreak of the war he spent six weeks at the Public School’s Special Corps at Epsom before joining the Inns of Court OTC on the 16th October 1914 when he was 19 years old. He was sent for basic training to Berkhamstead, attaining the rank of L/Corporal on the 21st November. His address at this time was given as 28 Shrublands Avenue, Berkhamstead. On the 17th December 1914, he applied for a temporary commission in the Regular Army and a report on his medical condition stated his height as 68 ½ inches and his weight 133lbs, with his hearing, teeth and vision all normal. At this time he expressed a wish to join an Infantry Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment or the Black Watch. Following a successful interview at the Royal Fusiliers Depot, he was gazetted in the rank of 2/Lt in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 24th December and was posted to the 10th Battalion some three days later on the 27th. The Battalion, then part of the 22nd Division, were probably in billets at Eastbourne at this time and little is known about them, their activities or training methods. It is clear however, that nearly all of the officers of the Battalion had very little military training or experience. There is a letter in Goodman’s records, which is interesting and probably linked to his rapid posting to the Battalion. Although the C.O. of the Inns of Court OTC, Lt Col F. R. Eddington originally endorsed his application for a commission, on the 4th January 1915, the C.O. is writing to a Major Tathom at an unknown address as follows:

"I do not think that G. A. Goodman is yet ripe for a commission. I told his father so a short while ago and G. A. Goodman agreed with me. With rather more training he will be all right. It is unfortunate that so many fathers think of their son’s and not of the men’s lives their son’s are going to have in their charge. Yours faithfully, F .R. Eddington. Lt.Col."

It would appear that Goodman’s father may have pulled a few strings to obtain an early commission for his son. Early in April 1915, the Battalion transferred to the 112th Brigade of the 37th Division then being assembled at Tidworth on Salisbury Plain and it was here, while under canvas at Ludgershall on the 21st May 1915, that Goodman was given one month’s sick leave, suffering from eczema of the face. He appeared before a medical board at the Military Hospital, Tidworth on the 22nd June and a further one months sick leave was recommended. During this period the Division was actively engaged in final training and preparations for departure to France before embarking at the end of July. On the 6th August 1915, five days after the Battalion had landed in France, the War Office wrote to the 37th Division at Cholderton requesting information regarding 2/Lt Goodman and asking if he had been before a further medical board, as they had no record of any further examination. The letter eventually reached Col W. Dennys, the C.O. of the 10th Btn LNL’s, “on active service “ in France who forwarded it to the 11th Btn LNL’s for their attention, “as he was transferred to your Battalion some weeks ago”. The 11th was a Reserve Battalion and from May 1915 to September 1915 was stationed at Billericay in Essex. A medical board convened at the Military Hospital at Warley, Essex on the 13th September 1915 found that Goodman, whose address was now given as Belhus Park, Aveley, Purfleet, Essex, had fully recovered from his disability and was now fit for General Service. It is not known when he eventually rejoined the 10th LNL’s as there is no reference to his return to the Battalion in the war diary but about a year later, on the 7th October 1916 he “left his unit abroad” suffering from jaundice and on the 18th October was embarked to Dover via Calais on a hospital ship. At a Medical Board at Caxton Hall on the 30th October it was reported “that this officer suffered from nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea from October 5th to the 12th. Jaundice supervened and lasted until October 22nd. Heart sound feeble and distant, rate 44. Some pyorrhoea is still present. Likely to be unfit for two months, condition caused by active service conditions”. A later board at Aylesbury on the 8th December “found no symptoms but that he suffered from occasional attacks of dyspepsia”; He was considered fit for home service and he reported to the 3rd Reserve Battalion at Felixstowe on the 11th December 1916. Goodman became ill again with a return of the abdominal pains and jaundice and was admitted to Endsleigh Palace Hospital on the 29th December. Following a further Medical Board at Caxton Hall on the 13th January 1917, he was recommended for three weeks sick leave until the 9th February. He was finally found to be recovered and fit for general duty on the 22nd February 1917. The 10th Btn war diary records that Goodman rejoined the Battalion on the 19th March 1917 when they were at Estrée-Wamin, east of Arras, and preparing for “future offensive action”.

Battle of Arras

The battle of Arras began on the 9th of April and on the 28th April 2/Lt Goodman was wounded during the Battalion attack on Greenland Hill. He was eventually embarked for Dover from Calais on the 8th May on the S.S.Newhaven suffering from a gun shot wound on the left side and slight gassing and was admitted to HRH Princess Beatrice’s Hospital for Officers. He attended a Medical Board at Caxton Hall on the 22nd May who reported, “He was hit by a rifle bullet on the left side of the abdomen. It did not penetrate but passed through the abdominal wall making a wound three inches by two inches and escaped. He was also very slightly gassed. The wound was sutured but the stitches gave way because of coughing. Wound is healing by granulation, a severe wound but not permanent. He would be incapacitated for nine weeks”.

A period of convalescence was spent at the Astley Hospital for Officers, Dorchester House, Park Lane and by the 4th July the M.O. reported, “that the wound had very nearly healed and that he had got rid of his cough. He will be considered fit for general duties in four weeks”. A medical board convened at Caxton Hall on the 13th August 1917 reported on his present health as follows ;; “His wound has now healed but he remains in a debilitated condition. A short extension of convalescent treatment is needed. He remains in hospital for transfer to an auxiliary hospital. Fit for light duties in three weeks and home service in six weeks”. From the Auxiliary Hospital for Officers at Taplow Priory, Bucks two days later, Goodman forwards a letter to the Secretary of the War Office stating that he was wounded in the attack on Greenland Hill on the 28th April and requests that he be granted a wound gratuity. The hospital at Taplow reporting on his condition in early September states “that he has no disability from the wound or gassing but has been suffering from boils and chronic constipation”. On the 25th September he writes again to the War Office requesting a wound gratuity, repeating that he was severely wounded on Greenland Hill on the 28th April and had remained in hospital until September 6th, the wound being open for fourteen weeks. Having reported to the 3rd Reserve Battalion at Felixstowe he attends a medical board there on the 5th October where it was found “that the wound is now healed and that he states that he is feeling perfectly fit and he was ordered to return to the 3rd LNL’s at Felixstowe”. A later board on the 20th October at Felixstowe found that he was no longer incapacitated and that he was now fit for general service. Goodman had by this date been in the Army nearly three years and had spent many months in hospitals being treated for eczema, jaundice, the wound to his abdomen and gassing. At some time while he was in Felixstowe he must have decided that his recent life as an infantry officer in the muddy, front line trenches of France was not entirely satisfactory and he volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps. His application being accepted, he was found to be fit for pilot training at a medical examination on the 29th October 1917, it being recorded in his medical notes that he had served seven months in France and had been wounded.

Royal Flying Corps

On the 30th October orders were issued for Lt G.A.Goodman to join the School of Military Aviation at Reading “forthwith” for instruction in Aviation and “that he should take camp kit with him”. This immediately drew a reply from Eastern Command that “he was not available having been ordered overseas on the 30th October”. The RFC quickly replied that this officer was selected from Eastern Command under authority 100 / Flying Corps / 360 (MSIR) for the RFC and application had been made for him to report at SMA Reading on 30th November for instruction. The Army appears to have won the struggle for his services at this time as the Director of Air Services wrote to Goodman on the 7th November1917 as follows:

“With reference to your application to join the RFC, I am directed to inform you that your services have been applied for to the branch of the War Office concerned, but the reply received is to the effect that it is regretted that your transfer cannot be concurred in”.

What happened after this refusal to the transfer by the War Office is not known but Goodman appears to have quickly overcome the objections raised by the Army to his application. His RFC Air 76 record indicates that on the 17th December 1917, Goodman reported to No1 School of Military Aeronautics at Reading for pilot training, the course of instruction lasting some six weeks. On the 13th February 1918, during this period of training, an application for Goodman to be given a permanent Regular Army Commission was made to Gen H.Q. Home Forces by the Director of Air Organisation. This request was acknowledged and it was requested that this officer be instructed to call for an interview at an early date “in order that his suitability to hold a permanent commission be considered”.

Towards the end of March after preliminary flying instruction at Reading, Goodman was sent to 41 Training Squadron, part of 8 Wing based at Tadcaster and later, on the 23rd May, was posted to 72 Training Squadron 8 Wing, based at Wyton. He graduated from Wyton on the 31st July 1918 after a seven months training period. Goodman, while stationed at 72 T. S. he writes to the War Office on the 2nd July1918, requesting information regarding his application for a permanent commission on the Loyal North Lancs Regiment following his application last February and enquiring whether this has been gazetted. The appointment had been confirmed to the War Office on the 8th May in his rank of 2/Lt, antedated to the 25th October 1915. He received a reply dated 1st August 1918 to the effect that a notification in the London Gazette of the 12th July 1918 confirmed his appointment to a permanent commission in the Loyal North Lancs Regiment.

The Royal Air Force had come into existence on the 1st April 1918 and all pilots with the rank of 2/Lt were automatically created Lieutenant. Goodman was obviously enjoying his flying training and his new lifestyle and it is assumed that the holding of a permanent commission in the Army would have enhanced his chances for later promotion in the newly fledged service. On the 23rd August 1918 Lt Goodman, having completed his general flying training, was posted to No 1 School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery based at Ayr, for a course of instruction, which lasted three weeks.

66 Squadron

He eventually joined 66 Squadron in Italy on the 15th September 1918 and was posted to B Flight. At this time the Squadron had been assisting operations on the Italian Front for approximately nine months including carrying out bombing operations against airfields and ground forces. Squadron bomb raid reports note that on the 4th October 1918, Lt Goodman along with Capt Charles M Maude had two direct hits on a hangar while taking part in a raid against Campoformido aerodrome. And that the next day, Lt Goodman took part in a bomb raid against Egna aerodrome and dropped four 20lb bombs in the middle of some billets. Later in October 1918 the Squadron had been assigned the task of destroying the enemy’s kite balloons. Nine Sopwith Camel’s flying in formation’s of three aircraft were generally detailed for these attacks which also included the harassment of enemy forces from low heights. Lt Goodman was reported “missing, believed killed” during a 08.15 offensive patrol which was forced to return on the 28th October. He was flying Camel E1579, which was seen to be shot down in flames east of Godega aerodrome at 08.50.

Anthony Goodman died just seven days before the Italian Armistice requested by Austria-Hungary was signed on the 4th November 1918. It would appear from the casualty records that he was the penultimate RAF casualty in the Italian campaign. He was posted “Missing, believed killed” in casualty list Italy 44 dated 26/11/1918. Lt Goodman is buried in Tezze British Cemetery, Italy. Plot 6, Row A, Grave No 16. His commemoration reads as follows; In memory of Lt Gilbert Anthony Goodman, 66th Squadron RAF and 1st Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment who died aged 23 on Monday 28th October 1918 Lt Goodman was the son of Alfred William and Penelope Mary Goodman of 1 Cloisters, Temple, London and Lessness House, Belvedere, Kent Remembered With Honour The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes regarding Tezze Cemetery are as follows; Tezze is a small village in the province of Treviso, north of Venice. The British Military Cemetery has been situated about 270 metres south of the village. This Cemetery is permanently open and can be visited at anytime. The village of Tezze was captured by the Austrians in their advance in the autumn of 1917 and remained in their hands until the passage of the Piave (Oct - 4th Nov 1918) during the Battle of Vittorio - Veneto (24th Oct - 4th Nov 1918). There are now over three hundred 1914-1918 war casualties commemorated on this site.

"This biography is the work and copyright of Peter Wood who is researching the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. I would like to thank Peter Wood for allowing me to use his work. I must also thank Massimo Cartone for the photograph of Goodman’s medals and portrait. If you have any additional information on Goodman or soldiers who served with the regiment please get in touch with me via the email link."

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