Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The mystery of Uncle Sid - Pte Sidney Henry GODLEMAN - Civil Service Rifles (15th Bn, London Regt)


Son of Sander
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

Bit of a family mystery for you!

My great granduncle, Sidney Henry GODLEMAN (Uncle Sid) served in the Civil Service Rifles during the war and my grandfather believes he had a bit of a chequered service history.

The family story is that Uncle Sid went missing in action but was then found after the war working on a farm in France by the British Legion. It’s believed that he suffered from shell shock and my grandfather remembers that he remained a resident patient at Brentwood Mental Hospital for the rest of his life, after being repatriated to England.

Researching Uncle Sid’s service history, I’ve found that his medal records have him listed as a private and then as a sapper with:

  • 1/15th London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles) - 4832
  • Northamptonshire Regiment - 206726
  • Royal Engineers - 527985
  • Royal Engineers (Railways) – WR/179727

From the medal records it looks like his medals were returned and his pension ledger shows that his pension was rejected in 1922.

I’ve picked up a copy of The History of the Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles and have found Uncle Sid listed (as GOODLEMAN, S. H.) in an appendix as having served between 1914-1919.

You can find the records below for your own perusal, along with a photo of Uncle Sid from his later years back in England.

I was wondering if anyone could possibly shed some light on Uncle Sid’s service numbers to try figure out roughly when (if at all) he may have gone missing? Was it common for missing soldiers to be transferred to other regiments as seems to be the case and what might account for his medals being returned and his pension rejected?

GODLEMAN, Sidney H. - Medal Roll Index Card (Returned).jpg

GODLEMAN, Sidney H. - Service Medal and Award Roll (Returned).jpg

GODLEMAN, Sidney Henry - Pension Ledger (Rejected).jpg

Goodleman, S. H. - Appendix IX, Civil Service Rifles .jpg

Uncle Sid.jpg

Edited by Son of Sander
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin
13 minutes ago, Son of Sander said:

It’s believed that he suffered from shell shock and my grandfather remembers that he remained a resident patient at Brentwood Mental Hospital for the rest of his life, after being repatriated to England.

If he had, and was hospitalised on that basis, it's unlikely his pension claim would have been rejected as he would have almost certainly qualified for it.

Quote

I was wondering if anyone could possibly shed some light on Uncle Sid’s service numbers to try figure out roughly when (if at all) he may have gone missing? Was it common for missing soldiers to be transferred to other regiments as seems to be the case and what might account for his medals being returned and his pension rejected?

A soldier who was missing would be left on the books of his last unit, not transferred.


Craig

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The soldiers around him on the medal roll have a similar set of service numbers. One of them might have a surviving service record?

If someone could identify what RE railways unit had a late service number series including 179727 there may be a war diary?

I don't see the RE here: https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/p/index.html

This page may help: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-in-1917/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-royal-engineers-in-1917/

It shows that his 3rd service no. was within the 3rd East Anglian Field Co. RE range:

Screen Shot 2021-09-15 at 09.35.34.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson
Additional information
Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to Howard. Williamson (GWMCC Vol. 3. p.1290) the WR prefix meant a 'Waterways, Railways and Roads' unit,

and the 179000 range was for 235 Light Railway Forward Co. (p.1292).

Edited by Ivor Anderson
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, Kath said:

Have you his home address?

I've only got the following home addresses I'm afraid:

1901 - 24 Sunnyside Road, Ilford, Romford, Essex

1911 - 128 Albert Rd, Ilford, Essex

1939 - Brentwood Mental Hospital, Essex

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ss002d6252 said:

If he had, and was hospitalised on that basis, it's unlikely his pension claim would have been rejected as he would have almost certainly qualified for it.

A soldier who was missing would be left on the books of his last unit, not transferred.


Craig

I have to admit that I was skeptical as to the story of his going missing and being found after the war! I'm really curious to understand, however, what accounted for him transferring from the Civil Service Rifles to the Northamptonshire Regiment and then on to the Royal Engineers. What would be the typical reasons for soldiers to be transferred?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin
1 minute ago, Son of Sander said:

I have to admit that I was skeptical as to the story of his going missing and being found after the war! I'm really curious to understand, however, what accounted for him transferring from the Civil Service Rifles to the Northamptonshire Regiment and then on to the Royal Engineers. What would be the typical reasons for soldiers to be transferred?

Typically a wounding/illness/injury, but it could also have been that he had much needed skills.

Craig

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Ivor Anderson said:

The soldiers around him on the medal roll have a similar set of service numbers. One of them might have a surviving service record?

If someone could identify what RE railways unit had a late service number series including 179727 there may be a war diary?

I don't see the RE here: https://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/p/index.html

This page may help: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-in-1917/renumbering-of-the-territorial-force-royal-engineers-in-1917/

It shows that his 3rd service no. was within the 3rd East Anglian Field Co. RE range:

Screen Shot 2021-09-15 at 09.35.34.png

 

49 minutes ago, Ivor Anderson said:

According to Howard. Williamson (GWMCC Vol. 3. p.1290) the WR prefix meant a 'Waterways, Railways and Roads' unit,

and the 179000 range was for 235 Light Railway Forward Co. (p.1292).

Wow! Thanks for the pointers Ivor!

I've not had much luck looking into the other soldiers service records. There was a couple but they're quite badly damaged and burnt.

Looking at his original service number (4832) it looks like he joined the 1/15th sometime between November - December 1915.

According to @Stebie9173, his service number (206726) with the Northamptonshire Regiment, would have been issued any where from 1st March 1917.

After which, as you've keenly outlined, he was transferred to the Royal Engineers, first to the 3rd East Anglian Field Company (527985) and then finally on to 235 Light Railway Forward Company (WR/179727), which was raised in France from as early as 1917. I wonder if there's a way to put a rough date on these service numbers?

Edited by Son of Sander
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is something odd about the photo shown in the OP. It is well after WWI and at a guess I would say is post WW2.

It is certainly not taken at Brentwood. It looks like a seaside street photograph . Further examination of the photo may tell you where it was taken.

I am not familiar with the rules for mental hospital in-patients, but I would nave thought  it is unlikely that they would have been allowed out for a day at the sea

He was born 1897 and died Brentwood 1964. Having his Death Cert may help to see whether he was still in the hospital then

Edited by corisande
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin
5 minutes ago, corisande said:

There is something odd about the photo shown in the OP. It is well after WWI and at a guess I would say is post WW2.

It is certainly not taken at Brentwood. It looks like a seaside street photograph . Further examination of the photo may tell you where it was taken.

I am not familiar with the rules for mental hospital in-patients, but I would nave thought  it is unlikely that they would have been allowed out for a day at the sea

I was wondering the same.

Craig

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, Kath said:

Have you seen this?

That looks like what the @Son of Sanderneeds to get the medical record

As I read that it is with Essex Record Office, who may or may not have it digitised

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, corisande said:

There is something odd about the photo shown in the OP. It is well after WWI and at a guess I would say is post WW2.

It is certainly not taken at Brentwood. It looks like a seaside street photograph . Further examination of the photo may tell you where it was taken.

I am not familiar with the rules for mental hospital in-patients, but I would nave thought  it is unlikely that they would have been allowed out for a day at the sea

He was born 1897 and died Brentwood 1964. Having his Death Cert may help to see whether he was still in the hospital then

 

1 hour ago, ss002d6252 said:

I was wondering the same.

Craig

Got some clarification from my grandfather on this:

  • He's not sure if Uncle Sid was admitted to Brentwood Mental Hospital immediately after coming back to England but knows that it would have been at least since 1934, when my grandfather was born.
  • Uncle Sid was a patient at Brentwood Mental Hospital but later received outpatient treatment (perhaps post WW2), continuing to live in Brentwood near to the hospital until he died in 1964.
  • The photo was indeed taken from a day at the seaside with my grandfather's parents and him.
  • My grandfather's mother, Uncle Sid's sister, was the only family who would visit him in hospital or have him come to visit when he was an outpatient as he'd apparently been ostracized by the rest of his family.
  • He had been told by his mother that Uncle Sid was treated poorly by rest of the family on his return to England, due to his shell shock and perhaps suspicions of cowardice, which may be where the odd family story about him being missing and then found on a farm in France after the war may have come from.
2 hours ago, Kath said:

Have you seen this?

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/hospitalrecords/details.asp?id=2413

Details: Warley Hospital, Brentwood

 

Kath.

 

2 hours ago, corisande said:

That looks like what the @Son of Sanderneeds to get the medical record

As I read that it is with Essex Record Office, who may or may not have it digitised

Thanks Kath, it doesn't look like they've digitized the records but I'll shoot Essex Archives an email to see if I can possibly view them or at least make an enquiry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for that clarification. What we seem to have established is that he was not in the Mental Hospital  from 1919 till his death

 

Got some clarification from my grandfather on this:

He's not sure if Uncle Sid was admitted to Brentwood Mental Hospital immediately after coming back to England but knows that it would have been at least since 1934, when my grandfather was born.

Uncle Sid was a patient at Brentwood Mental Hospital but later received outpatient treatment (perhaps post WW2), continuing to live in Brentwood near to the hospital until he died in 1964.

The photo was indeed taken from a day at the seaside with my grandfather's parents and him.

My grandfather's mother, Uncle Sid's sister, was the only family who would visit him in hospital or have him come to visit when he was an outpatient as he'd apparently been ostracized by the rest of his family.

He had been told by his mother that Uncle Sid was treated poorly by rest of the family on his return to England, due to his shell shock and perhaps suspicions of cowardice, which may be where the odd family story about him being missing and then found on a farm in France after the war may have come from.

 

You do need those hospital records, to ascertain what years he was in the hospital. It seems it could have been anything from 40 years to  a few years. The stigma of mental health has been around a  long time, so it is difficult for us to untangle the family recollections

The fact that his pension application was rejected perhaps shows that the medical board did not think his mental state was pensionable at that point (Feb 1922). My feeling is that post WW1, the combination of PTMS and the pressures of civilian life in inter-war UK, caused a breakdown. But, as I say, without the hospital records we are just guessing at when and for how long, he suffered

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I can see of similar service records (206725 Hugh Walter Sturgeon Chickall and 206729 Edward John Funnell) the transfer is likely to have happened in the UK on 8-9-1917. Both the above transferred from the London Regiment (Chickall from the 18th Bn. and Funnell from the 15th) to Northamptonshire Regiment on that day and then were posted to the 2/4th (Home Service) Battalion on 9-9-1917.

 

Steve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...