Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Charles Edward Godfrey

Charles Edward Godfrey :

Charles Edward Godfrey : General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp 'Iraq'

General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp 'Iraq'

Charles was born between July and September 1899 in Chorlton, Manchester. His mother was called Martha and they were Roman Catholics, but we don't know anything else about his early life or family.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Charles was conscripted into the Army on the 13th July 1917. At the time he lived at 24 Dawson Street in West Gorton, Manchester, and worked as a labourer. When he enlisted he was 4 feet 10 3/4 inches tall, with a 'fresh' complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

At this stage in the war recruit training had been centralised, so Charles joined the 59th Battalion of the Training Reserve at Kinmel Park near Rhyl in north Wales. He was given the service number TR4/40166.

Charles was transferred to the 50th Battalion on the 22nd October at Prees Heath in Shropshire. This may have been when he was given the service number TR3/63629. He was stationed here until the 8th December when he joined the 23rd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. His new service number was 65599. This unit was made up of men who were only fit for service in the UK; it was based at Bacton in Norfolk, where it could guard against a possible invasion.

It soon became clear that Charles was not fit enough to fight in France. He was discharged as 'no longer physically fit for war service' on the 16th March 1918. Charles returned to his mother's house at 27 Wrigley Street in West Gorton. He found work as a packer.

On the 21st July 1919 Charles rejoined the Army. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment for 4 years and was given the service number 77774. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Bordon, Hampshire 2 days later. He was now 5 feet 1 3/4 inches tall and weighed 98 pounds. His complexion was described as 'ruddy'.

The increasing violence in Ireland meant that the 2nd Battalion was sent to Tipperary in November to assist the police. They fulfilled this role until the 13th February 1920, when they sailed to Mesopotamia, now called Iraq.

Between April and July the Battalion was based in Tikrit, they then moved to Hillah. Many of the soldiers in Iraq were inexperienced and were not fully trained on all the Battalion's weaponry. Many of the men who had served in the First World War had already been demobilised. Charles' experience, however limited it may have been, will undoubtedly have been helpful to him and his comrades.

On the 24th July 1920 the Battalion was around 20 miles outside Hillah when it was attacked by Arab tribesmen. They held off the Arabs until nightfall, and then D Company was ordered to hold position to allow the rest of the Battalion to get away. Charles, who was a member of C Company, escaped back to Hillah, but 79 of his comrades were captured by the Arabs. They were released in October.

On the 21st August Charles was serving in Handiyah when he was awarded 28 days Field Punishment Number 2. This involved being held in shackles and given hard labour. We don't know what Charles had done.

At around this time the entire Army was given new service numbers. Charles became 3513196.

The 2nd Battalion left Mesopotamia on Boxing Day 1920 and moved to Kamptee in India. As the seasons changed the increasing heat seems to have caught Charles, as he was sent to hospital on the 6th May 1921 suffering from heatstroke. He was discharged after 10 days, but readmitted on the 19th. We don't know what caused this, but he needed 3 weeks treatment before he was well enough to return to the 2nd Battalion.

After less than a week Charles was again sick. He had myalgia, or muscle pain, in his back and limbs, as well as a headache. He needed 4 days treatment.

We don't know much about the rest of Charles' service. The 2nd Battalion moved to Jubbulpore, now Jabalpur in the Indian Punjab, during 1923. They were called to assist the police on a number of occasions, but saw no major fighting.

Charles' time in India came to an end on the 20th October 1923. He was returned to the UK and discharged on the 4th November. His character was 'very good' and his service had been 'eminently satisfactory'. He was 'intelligent and very willing. Has been employed as a messenger'.

We don't know what Charles did as a civilian. He married May Ashworth in Manchester between October and December 1928. They had 4 children: Napoleon between April and June 1929, Dorothy between October and December 1930, Doreen between October and December 1933 and May between July and September 1935.

In the early 1950s Charles worked as a chain assembler for a manufacturer of driving chains. He lived at 182 Ridgeway Street in Miles Platting, and died there of lung cancer on the 24th May 1953. He was 54 years old.

Charles' medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in February 1950.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council