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John Godfrey

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Menin Gate Memorial. Ieper. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Scots Guards. Falkirk District
Menin Gate Memorial. Ieper

9307 Private

1st Battalion Scots Guards, 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Division

Age: 38

Date of Death: Killed in Action 12.11.14

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 11

Family history: Son of Alexander Godfrey, Crispin Place, Falkirk. He was a reservist, working as a dock labourer, who rejoined his old battalion in August 1914.

The action leading to his death

On the 11 November 1914 the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards were in the line at Veldhoek and on this day the Germans launched a major attack on a 9 mile front with 12 Divisions with the aim of breaking the British line and taking Ypres. The day dawned with a mist covering the frontline trenches and this was dispersed by a wind that brought rain which grew heavier as the day went on. At 0630 the Germans began an artillery barrage that grew in intensity and reached its peak by 0900. Some of the worst of the shelling fell on the line held by the Scots Guards. The War Diary records:

The main German attack was directed to the front line opposite Gheluvelt and extending from the wood on the south of the Menin Road known to the British as Shrewsbury Forest to Nonnebosschen (Nuns Copse) and the edge of Polygon Wood beyond it.

Linesman. Scots guards. Nonne Bosschen Wood. Polygon Wood. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District

As the fighting continued, the 1st Scots Guards were overwhelmed the War Dairy recording:

The enemy broke through the British line but isolated pockets in strong points fought them off. About 100 men of the Black Watch, including the battalion staff, managed to hold Verbeek Farm, with some forty men holding the battalion’s own designated strong point ‘Black Watch Corner’ in Polygon Wood, which comprised of a trench inside the hedges of a cottage garden protected by a few strands of barbed wire. In trying to find their way around the British fire the German 1st and 3rd Foot Guard Regiments, some 900 men, pushed into Nonnebosschen and came within 200 yards of the British guns. They were fought off by gunners with rifles, various stragglers from 1st Brigade and the 5th Field Company, Royal Engineers including the latter’s cooks.

Medals Awarded:

1914 Star and Clasp, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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