Francis Goodall was born in Clewer, Berkshire on 14th August 1896 to Rebecca Goodall.
By the age of four Francis and Rebecca were living with his grandmother in Davis Street, Hurst.
Francis attended Hurst Infants School and at the age of seven he became a pupil at Hurst Boys School.
Francis enlisted into the army in Reading on 31st August 1914 and was assigned to 5th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment along with
Brock Barracks was overwhelmed by the sudden inrush of volunteers and by 8th September conditions were called 'a disgrace to the country' in a complaint forwarded to Lord Kitchener.
There were 2000 men in accommodation designed for 300 and it would have been a relief for Francis and the other Hurst men to be sent within a few days for training at Shorncliffe Barracks.
Even here there was overcrowding and men were sleeping on the floor without sheets.
Conditions did not improve when 5th Battalion was moved out of the barracks to make way for new arrivals.
They then slept under canvas on St. Martin's Plain until a combination of bad weather, leaking tents and deep mud made soldiering impossible.
The men were then billeted in various hotels around Folkestone and training continued to improve the men's fitness and discipline with square bashing, full-pack marching and shooting practice at Hythe Ranges.
At some time during the training Francis was transferred to 2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and went to France on 1st December 1915.
He joined his Battalion behind the lines at Sercus near Hazebrouck and in January they returned to action in the trenches west of Béthune.
This followed a typical rotation of billets, reserve and front line until the end of March when the Battalion was transferred south by train, disembarking at Longueau station in Amiens.
From there they marched about ten miles to billets in Flesselles.
After a few days they moved westwards to Millencourt near Albert.
For the next three months the Battalion served in the trenches on the Somme front until on 22nd June 1916 they were withdrawn from the front line in readiness for the imminent offensive.
The barrage commenced a week before the large scale attack that later became known as the
First Day of the Somme.
Over the next few days around forty men arrived to make up the Battalion numbers.
On 30th June the Battalion paraded at 9.15 p.m. before moving forward to the assembly points for the next day's attack.
At 6.25 a.m. on 1st July the bombardment intensified and at 7.30 a.m. it lifted from the German front line trenches.
Whistles blew and the men climbed out of the relative safety of the trenches and moved forward across No Man's Land.
The target for 2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment was the village of Ovillers on which they advanced with 2nd Lincolnshires.
The story of the day is told in the Battalion War Diary:
2ND BATTALION ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT|
SATURDAY 1st JULY 1916, OVILLERS
Attack on OVILLERS. |
The Battalion took up its assembly position in accordance with Brigade Operation Order No. 100.
The 2nd BN LINCOLNSHIRE REGT was on the left and the 2BN DEVONSHIRE REGT on right.
Our own wire was not sufficiently cut and parties were immediately sent out by Companies to clear it.
At 6.25am the intensive bombardment began as scheduled.
At about 7.15am the enemy opened rifle and machine gun fire on our line; this fire was probably drawn by the 2nd DEVON REGT which at about this time attempted to line up in front of their parapet.
At 7.20am Companies began filing down trenches and getting ready for the assault.
At 7.30am the three assaulting Companies advanced to attack the GERMAN line.
They were met by intense rifle and machine gun fire which prevented any of the waves reaching the enemy lines.
A little group on the left of the Battalion succeeded in getting in, but were eventually bombed out.
At about 7.45am the COMMANDING OFFICER (LT COL A.M. HOLDSWORTH) and SECOND IN COMMAND (MAJOR G.H. SAWYER DSO) were wounded in the sap on the left of our front, the COMMDG OFFICER handed over Command of the Battalion to 2nd LIEUT C. MOLLET (ACTG ADJT) by this time the parapet was swept by rifle and machine gun fire which prevented any exit from our trenches.
The enemy replied to our intensive bombardment by barraging the front line from about 6.35am onwards.
No message was received from other Battalions in immediate vicinity.
At about 11am the order came from Bde Headquarters to "stand by" and await further orders.
About 200 men of the Battalion were collected on the right of the front line and in the assembly trenches off ULVERSTON Street.
At about 12.30pm news was received that the Brigade would be relieved.
At about 3pm Major Hon R. BRAND, 2nd Rifle Brigade arranged to take over all the front line and with the sanction of the Brigade the Battalion was withdrawn to RIBBLE STREET.
On relief by the 37th INFANTRY BDE, the Battalion marched back to bivouac in LONG VALLEY.
TWO LEWIS GUNS were damaged, Steel Helmets proved invaluable and in numberless cases saved mens lives.
The following casualties occurred amongst Officers.
KILLED IN ACTION.-|
LIEUT A.J.G. GOODALL.
2nd LIEUT S.S. SCHNEIDER.
DIED OF WOUNDS.-|
LT COL A.M. HOLDSWORTH.
MAJOR G.H. SAWYER DSO.
CAPTAIN B. HAYE.
CAPTAIN J.A. CAHILL.
LIEUT W.C. ADAMS.
2nd LIEUT W.S. MACKAY.
2nd LIEUT J.V.R. OWEN.
2nd LIEUT R.G. GREEN.
2nd LIEUT W. GALE.
CAPTAIN H.T. ROWLEY.
CAPTAIN R.C. LEWIS.
LIEUTENANT B.S. ROBINSON.
LIEUT O.G. PAYNE.
2nd LIEUT H. GODFREY.
2nd LIEUT B.H. BELCHER.
2nd LIEUT P.G. SHIRREFF.
2nd LIEUT M.I. HEMING.
2nd LIEUT S.H. BEDFORD.
3 DIED of WOUNDS.
2nd Battalion suffered 437 casualties on the First Day of the Somme and were withdrawn from the battle next day.
One of those killed was Francis Goodall; he was nineteen years of age.
Also killed was
who was born and grew up in Hurst and belonged to the same Battalion as Francis.
Two days later
died fighting over the same ground when 5th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment tried unsuccessfully to take Ovillers.
Francis Goodall is buried near where he fell in
Ovillers Military Cemetery.