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Joseph Goodchild is also commemorated on the Pingelly Memorial Rotunda, Western Australia
Pingelly Memorial Rotunda
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Goodchild, Paul Franklin Joseph

Paul Franklin Joseph Goodchild
Victory Medal
Victory Medal
British War Medal
British War Medal
Private Paul Franklin Joseph Goodchild (6516)
Died of Wounds on Wednesday 11th April 1917
First Battle of Bullecourt, aged 22
Son of Edward & Sarah Goodchild
Father's occupation: Carter
Born 12th August 1894 at Wokingham
3 sisters, 3 brothers, position in family: 7
Relatives: Brother of 3062 Pte James Goodchild & 055543 Driver George Goodchild
Infant School:Hurst Infants
Senior School:Hurst Boys
Admitted:Monday 1st April 1901
Age on admission:6
Left school:Tuesday 27th November 1906
Age at leaving:12
Local address: Hinton Cottages, Hurst
Pre-war occupation: Farm Labourer
Enlisted:Perth, W.A., Monday 17th April 1916
Regiment:Australian Imperial Force
Battalion:16th Bn.
Division:4th Aust. Div
Went overseas:Friday 13th October 1916
Died:Wednesday 11th April 1917
Cause:Died of Wounds
Action:First Battle of Bullecourt
Battalion at:Bullecourt
Commemorated:Grave at Sauchy-Lestree Communal Cemetery

Joseph Goodchild was born in Wokingham on 12th August 1894 to Edward and Sarah Goodchild, the youngest of seven children. He lived with his three brothers and three sisters in Hinton Cottages, Hinton Road, Hurst. Joseph's father worked as a carter on a farm and his mother earned money as a wood chopper. Joseph attended Hurst Infant School and at the age of six he moved up to Hurst Boys School. He showed ability at school and was commended in the Diocesan Inspector’s Report for 1901.

He became a farm worker after leaving school and in May 1913, when he was 18 years old, Joseph followed his older brother James. by emigrating to Western Australia. He sailed on a third class ticket from Liverpool aboard the S.S. Belgic of the White Star Line and arrived in Fremantle on 3rd July 1913. Joseph became a farm labourer at Glen Erne in West Pingelly, a small rural settlement 100 miles south east of Perth. He worked for the Morrison family whose descendents still own Glen Erne today.

On 29th March 1916 Joseph attested for service in the Australian forces in Perth and his brother James followed suit a few months later. On 17th April Joseph signed up for service overseas and began his training at Blackboy Hill Camp on the outskirts of Perth. At his medical he measured 5 feet 6½ inches tall and weighed 8 stones 11 pounds. He was described as having a fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. Joseph's rate of pay was five shillings per day, and once overseas he would receive two shillings with the remainder being paid in Australia.

On 12th September 1916 Joseph was assigned to the 21st Reinforcements for 16th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force. He embarked on the transport ship HMAT Port Macquarie at Fremantle on 13th October 1916 and set sail for the UK. HMAT Port MacQuarie was a civilian ship that had been requisitioned for the war effort from the Commonwealth & Dominion Line of London. She displaced 7,236 tons and had a top speed of 12.5 knots.

The ship docked at Plymouth on 12th December 1916 and Joseph disembarked into 4th Training Battalion. He spent the next two months training at Codford St. Mary on Salisbury Plain before moving on to Folkestone for the crossing to France on S.S. Princess Victoria. On 9th February 1917 Joseph marched into Base Depot for 4th Australian Division in Etaples and a few days later he joined 16th Battalion AIF in the field.

Three-quarters of 16th Battalion were recruited in Western Australia, and the rest in South Australia. With the 13th, 14th and 15th Battalions it formed the 4th Brigade which subsequently became part of the 4th Australian Division. 16th Battalion had fought at Gallipoli but by the time that Joseph reached Europe, they were on the Western Front. From then until 1918, the battalion took part in bloody trench warfare. He arrived when the Battle of the Somme was coming to a close and after the Battalion's first major action in France, at Pozières in the Somme valley, where Private Martin O'Meara won the Battalion's first Victoria Cross.

In the wake of the battle, the German army adopted new tactics and retired to a more formidable system of defences known as the Hindenburg Line. The allies responded by planning a coordinated attack, with the British moving forward around Arras, closely followed by a French offensive around the Oise and the Aisne. The British 5th Army, including Joseph in the 16th Battalion AIF, was under the control of General Sir Hubert Gough for the attack on Bullecourt, ten miles south west of Arras. At the same time another Hurst soldier, William Ambrose, died while fighting with the 2nd Wiltshire Battalion just five miles nearer Arras at St. Martin-sur-Cojeul.

The attack on Bullecourt was planned for 10th April 1917 and was to be carried out with tanks in support of the infantry to break through the wire and knock out the machine gun posts. However it was snowing heavily and by 04.30 hours, when Joseph and the 4th Australian Division were scheduled to advance, the tanks had not arrived as they were lost in the blizzard. Several Yorkshire Battalions of the 62nd Division did advance and suffered heavy casualties before the attack was called off.

General Gough decided that he would make a second attempt on Bullecourt at 04:30 hours on 11th April. The attack was to take place without a preliminary bombardment to achieve an element of surprise and although eleven tanks had arrived, they were not in position by the time the attack started. The tanks made little impact on the battle, with most getting knocked out very quickly.

Leading the assault, the 16th Battalion came under heavy machine gun fire as they reached the first German line of trenches, but these were taken. In places the wire had been cut, but the advancing soldiers found themselves faced with a second belt of wire which was untouched.

From the German front lines, two communication trenches ran almost perpendicularly back towards Riencourt. The 16th Battalion came under heavy fire as they tried to get into a German communication trench known as Emu Alley. Other Battalions also suffered heavy casualties from machine gun fire and without support and supplies the attack was halted.

Joseph Goodchild was reported missing after the assault and enquiries were made to find out what had become of him. On 21st June 1917 a statement was taken from Lance Corporal Parsons who had been taken prisoner during the battle and subsequently escaped. He reported:

"He is a prisoner of war. He belonged to my Gun Section. He was badly wounded, shot through the body and was therefore left behind at Villiers where he was sent to hospital by the Germans."

For his brave escape, Lance Corporal Parsons was awarded the Military Medal and the citation read:

Lance Corporal H. Parsons and Pte G. Stewart, having been made prisoners of war on 11th April, 1917, were interned at the British Prisoners of War Camp, MARQUION. In company with two other men, on the 20th May, 1917, they effected their escape by cutting through the barbed wire of their enclosure and regained our lines, travelling through about seven miles of enemy territory, and crossing 5 enemy trench systems and wire to do so. Both men displayed a great amount of resource, determination and pluck in thus effecting their escape, and they have given military information of considerable value concerning enemy organisations and forces in rear.

On the 16th July 1917 Joseph was reported as killed in action at Bullecourt on 11th April 1917, from information on the German Death List dated 12th June 1917. Miss F A Hunt of Wychcotes, Caversham, Reading wrote a letter enquiring about his fate on 25th July 1917. She had just been informed of the death of Private Percy Grover and was enquiring about his 'chum' whom she believed was a prisoner of war. Joseph Goodchild and Percy Grover were the same age and had embarked from Australia with consecutive service numbers: 6516 and 6517. They had shared their wartime experiences in 16th Battalion and both were wounded on 11th April and taken prisoner. Percy had a shrapnel wound to the arm which was treated by German doctors.

He was then transferred to a prisoner-of-war camp at Soltau, Hannover from where he wrote several letters to his family and to Miss Hunt. Percy's arm was amputated in hospital at Munster and, although he had good treatment, gangrene set in and he died. Percy was buried in Munster and after the war his body was interred in the Commonwealth war cemetery in Hamburg.

Miss Hunt received an immediate reply to her enquiry about Joseph, which gave her the sad news of his death, along with the assumption that he had succumbed to his wounds while a prisoner of the Germans.

In 1918 further enquiries were carried out to clarify the situation. The German Red Cross stated that Private Goodchild's identity disc had been sent to Berlin and marked “taken from one who fell at Bullecourt”. It was assumed that he had been buried near where he fell.

This identity disc was actually forwarded to Joseph's mother in October 1917 as the sole item of his effects that had survived. In her acknowledgement to the AIF Kit Store, Sarah Goodchild expressed the hope that his watch, wallet and photos might also be recovered.

Another enquiry in 1920 elicited more information from the Central Inquiry Bureau, Royal Prussian War Office:

“Identity disc was taken from a fallen soldier on 11/4/17 at Bullecourt nothing further is known. Identity disc handed in by the “Feldindtr” 27th Infantry Division 19/5/17.

Joseph Goodchild was 22 years old when he died and had been on the Western Front for only two months. He rests close to battlefield of Bullecourt in a Commonwealth war grave in the Sauchy-Lestree Communal Cemetery. Joseph is amongst ten other first world war soldiers including Private Stanley McWhinney of his own battalion who was also taken prisoner and died on the same day. He was also a farm worker in Western Australia and sailed to France on the same ship as Joseph in October 1916.

Joseph Goodchild's brothers survived the war. James was an Engine Driver in Australia before enlisting in Perth on 30th November 1916. He sailed for France on 29th January 1917 to join the 44th Infantry Battalion. The Battalion took part in major actions around Ypres in 1917 and in France during 1918 and suffered heavy casualties. After the war James returned to Australia. Joseph's other brother George remained in Britain and his picture appeared in the Reading Standard as a Driver in the Royal Army Service Corps.


Joseph Goodchild at Sauchy-Lestree Communal Cemetery
Sauchy-Lestree Communal Cemetery
In proud loving memory
of a dear boy
from mother, brothers, sisters

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon