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  • Photograph taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line. Photograph David Nunn.
Person Details
Blidworth Nottinghamshire
Herbert Edward Godfrey was the son of Edward and Mary Anne Godfrey (née Stocks). His father Edward was born in 1861 at Blidworth and his mother Mary Ann Stocks Whitehead was born on 23 February 1865 at Eakring. Married in 1880 (O/N/D Mansfield), they had eleven children, nine surviving infancy - Rosanne (or Rose Ann) b. 26 October 1882, Lily b.1885 bap. Blidworth St Mary 11 November 1886, Annie Eliza b. 10 September 1888, Ernest Aaron b. 24 June 1891 bap. St Mary 2 August 1891, Herbert Edward b.1894, William b.1897 bap St Mary 1 August 1897, George Harold b. 16 June 1900, Percy Cyril b. 9 January 1903 and Agnes b. 27 March 1906. One of the children who died in infancy may have been Rhoda b. 1881 (J/A/S Mansfield, mother's maiden name Stocks) d. 1881 (J/A/S Mansfield). Edward and Mary were living at Ashwell Terrace, Main Street, Blidworth in 1891: Edward (29) a coal miner, Mary (26) and their three daughters Rose Anne (8), Lily (5) and Annie (2). They were still living at the same address in 1901 along with five of their seven children; Annie, Ernest (9), Herbert (7), William (4) and George (under 1 year). Their daughter, Roseanna (Rose on the census) was living in Hucknall and working as a general domestic servant in the household of Mark and Mark Saunders. Lily has not yet been traced on the 1901 Census. The family home was still in Blidworth in 1911. Only five of Edward and Mary's nine children were in the home on the night of the census: Herbert a pony driver underground, William, a general farm labourer, George, Percy (8) and Agnes (5). Two of their daughters had married: Roseanne to Thomas Radford West in 1909 (O/N/D Mansfield) and living in Worksop and Annie Eliza to William Harpham in 1906 (A/M/J Mansfield) and living in Kirkby in Ashfield. Their eldest son Ernest, a coal miner hewer, was living with his married sister Annie Harpham. Lily has not yet been traced on the 1911 Census. Herbert's father died in 1936 (O/N/D Mansfield) and in 1939 when the England & Wales Register was compiled his widow Mary Ann was living at Holly Tree Cottage, Main Street, Blidworth with her son Percy Cecil, a colliery screen worker, and Kathleen R Godfrey (b. 12 June 1925) single whose occupation was given as paid domestic duties. Mary ann died in 1944 (O/N/D Basford). Of Herbert's siblings: Roseanne was living on Netherton Road, Worksop, in 1911 with her husband Thomas Radford West, a policeman (Nottinghamshire Constabulary) and their children Agnes Dorothy (4) and Gladys May (6 months); another child had died in infancy. Rosanna died on 22 September 1972 Lily has not yet been traced after the 1891 Census. Annie Eliza was living with her husband William Harpham (b. 7 une 1883), a coal miner hewer, in Park Street, Kirkby in Ashfleld in 1911 together with their children Harold (4) and Daisy (2). Also in the household was her brother Ernest. She and William were still living in Kirkby in Ashfield in 1939 with their children Herbert (b. 13 June 1919) and Dennis (b. September 1923). Annie died in 1967 (J/F/M Southwell). Ernest Aaron was living with this wife Alice (b. 2 May 1891, née Broughton) on Harlow Road, Blidworth in 1939 with their son Herbert Ronald (b. 25 September 1925). Ernest died in 1977. William was living on Thorney Abbey Road, Blidworth in 1939 with his wife Hilda M. (b. 6 May 1898( and their son Douglas Godfrey (b. 20 February 1920), a mine worker above ground. William died in 1978. George Harold married Florence Worthington in 1920 and in 1939 they were living in Vicarage Yard, Main Street, Blidworth, with their son Kenneth Alan (b. 9 January 1921) a colliery screen hand. George died in 1992. Percy Cyril was living at Holly Tree Cottage, Main Street, Blidworth in 1939 with his widowed mother, Mary Ann, and Kathleen R [Rita] Towers (b. 12 June 1925, d. 1996). Percy died in 1985 (J/F/M Mansfield). Agnes married John Booth in 1931 (J/F/M Mansfield). In 1939 they were living on Saville Street, Blidworth; John (b. 16 December 1906) was a coal hewer. Agnes died in 1977.
Herbert was pony driver underground in 1911 but a miner at Rufford Colliery when he enlisted.
01 Jul 1916
22
608754 - CWGC Website
13351
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Herbert Edward Godfrey enlisted at Mansfield on 25th August 1914. He landed at Boulogne on 15th December 1915. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 14th March 1916. On the 13th April 1916 he was found guilty and sentenced to 120 days imprisonment with hard labour (commuted to 84 days Field Punishment No 1) for drunkenness (Army Service Record). He was killed in action on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He is buried in Serre Road Cemetery No. 2 (grave ref. IV.F.3). Battalions attacking Ovillers on 1st July 1916 had to cross 'Mash Valley' one of the widest expanses of No Man's Land (750 yards) along the entire Somme front. Today, looking from Ovillers Cemetery (German front line) towards distant houses (British front line) across open fields offering little cover, the magnitude of their task is still evident. 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters' War Diary recorded: 'Casualties along the whole line were very heavy and a general attempt was made to crawl forward under intense machine gun and shrapnel fire, any available cover being made use of.... Lt Colonel Watson, walking diagonally across the front collecting men as he went gave fresh impetus to the advance by his personal example... A third attempt, led by Captain C E Hudson*, to reach the German trenches by the sunken road on the right flank was made but... was brought to a standstill by heavy frontal and flank fire as they came over the brow of the hill in the last 80 yards. The casualties sustained by the battalion during the day amounted to 21 officers and 508 men. The strength of the battalion on entering the trenches on 26th June was 27 officers and 710 men.' 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters War Diary TNA WO95/21871(3). 125 men from 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were killed during the attack on Ovillers (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). *John Cotterill adds 'The man who brought the 11th Foresters out of action on 1 July and, one of the 6 unwounded officers, was Capt Edward Hudson who would go on to get a VC as CO of 11th Foresters on Asiago Plateau in Italy in 1918'. 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment suffered 264 fatalities during the same advance. Concerns of their CO Lieutenant Colonel Edward Thomas Falkiner Sandys DSO, a brave and well respected officer, that his battalion would be badly mauled crossing such an expanse of open ground with uncut wire an added hazard, did not impress his superiors. Sandys was wounded during the attack and evacuated to the UK. Depressed at the fate of so many men who had trusted him, Sandys shot himself in a London hotel room and died a few days later. 8th Division's Official History records a total of 5,121 casualties on 1st July 1916. Military Research by David Nunn
Registers of Soldiers' Effects: His mother Mary Ann was his sole legatee. UKSDGW gives Herbert's place of birth as Bardley, Lincoln, but according to the census returns he was born, like his siblings, in Blidworth.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Photograph taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line. Photograph David Nunn.
    Terrain of the advance of the 8th Division, 1 July 1916 - Photograph taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line. Photograph David Nunn.