Granddad was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire to William Goodman and Alice (nee Lea) and was the third of five children. He had two older brothers, Fred and Frank, and two younger sisters, Alma and Gladys. During the 1901 census the family lived at 79 Canon Street, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Arthur was a boy of 8 at this time. His father William was a telegraphist at the post office.
By 1911 the family were living at 16 Clifford Street, Shrewsbury and Arthur, aged 18, was an assistant in a boot shop in Shrewsbury… this was probably Morton’s for whom he worked all through his life.
However, in 1914 at the start of the war Arthur joined up and chose to go into the Army… the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. His medal card shows the following:
Medal card of Goodman, Arthur
Corps Regiment No Rank
Machine Gun Corps 8450 Serjeant (sic)
King’s Shropshire Light Infantry 19321 Serjeant (sic)
He later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps… regarded as a ‘suicide squad’ according to my father. The Machine Gun Corps was formed in October 1915 with Infantry, Cavalry and Motor branches, followed in 1916 by the Heavy Branch. A depot and training centre was established at Belton Park in Grantham, Lincolnshire, and a base depôt at Camiers in France.
According to Wikipedia: The MGC saw action in all the main theatres of war, including France, Belgium, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Salonika, East Africa and Italy. In its short history the MGC gained an enviable record for heroism as a front line fighting force. Indeed, in the latter part of the war, as tactics changed to defence in depth, it commonly served well in advance of the front line. It had a less enviable record for its casualty rate. Some 170,500 officers and men served in the MGC with 62,049 becoming casualties, including 12,498 killed, earning it the nickname ‘the Suicide Club’. Amazingly… he survived!
In dad’s words: “My father’s army service was with the Machine Gun Corps, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major. The M.G.C. appears to have been something of a suicide squad in that they were to the fore in major actions, or bearing the brunt of spirited offensives against our lines. Whilst a Sergeant he received the congratulations of Major General C.E. Pereira, CB, CMG, Commanding 2nd Division on his “Splendid leadership and example to those under him.” (Not sure if he was correct in stating that he was a Sergeant Major… but certainly a Sergeant.)
Thankfully, though, he survived and went back into civilian life resuming his job as a shoe and boot salesman. At first he was in Shrewsbury, but later transferred to Maidstone where he met and married my grandmother, Lavinia Barfoot, in 1921.
After being posted to Carlisle to run the Morton’s branch up there for about 11 years or so…Arthur, Lavinia, my father, William and his younger brother, Ronald returned to Maidstone where they lived until Arthur’s death in 1958 and Lavinia’s death in 1978.