Harry GODDARD
Rank: Private
Number: 45707
Unit: 1st Battalion SOUTH WALES BORDERERS
Date of Death: 18 April 1918
Age: 22
Cemetery: Gorre British & Indian Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Samuel Goddard and Ellen Hunt had married in 1890 at St Mary's Church, Heaton Reddish. The 1901 Census shows them having two children - Harry aged five and Mary aged three. They were living at 38 Upper Brook Street (and later, 85 Park Lane), Stockport. Samuel earned his living as metal worker.

For some reason, Harry didn't enlist into the army at Stockport, but travelled to Chester where he was assigned to the Army Service Corps. The prefix of his service number DM2/163906 indicates he was to be a driver with one of the Corps Motor Transport Companies. However, after training, he was reassigned to the infantry and went overseas as one of a group of replacements for casualties in the Borderers. This was probably towards the end of 1916.

On 9 April, the German Army launched the second phase of its spring offensive. As with the attacks the month before, this was delivered with overwhelming force, again driving the British back. The Borderers had been fortunate not to have been in the sectors north or south where the attacks had been.

On the 15th, they took over the front line defences near the French hamlet of Loisne. The next couple of days were very quiet and the Battalion's War Diary entry for the 17th reads "Nothing happened during the day". This was all to change at 4am on the 18th.

The Germans opened an intense artillery bombardment on the British front line trench. There was also shelling of the rear areas (to prevent reinforcements coming forward to help those in the front line). Gas shells were frequently used. . This lasted until about 9am, when it lifted from the front and moved to the rear areas, effectively cutting off the front line troops. At this point, the German infantry stormed forward. They captured one of the strongpoints on the right (known as Route "A" Keep) having reduced the garrison from 70 to 20 and destroying their two heavy Vickers machine guns and two light Lewis guns.

The War Diary recounts "On the left, a force estimated at 300 attacked Loisne Keep. They were immediately engaged with rifle and machine gun fire and attack did not get close to Keep. A certain number, however, got close up by means of an old trench; they were dealt with at close range and the attack collapsed. It is estimated that at this point of the attack about 25% of the attacking force were rendered casualties."

This was the end of the determined German attack. However, throughout the morning and for most of the afternoon, there were isolated incidents of continued fighting, including at least one attempt by the enemy to regroup and mount another large scale attack. The Germans had, however, managed to dig in about 300 - 500 yards from the British front line and were able to start to garrison this with machine guns.

It had been a stalwart defence along the whole Divisional front, not least by the men of the South Wales Borderers. It had, however, left Harry and another local man, John Fitzpatrick, amongst the dead.

   
           
   
     
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