William GOODWIN
Rank: Private
Number: 70699
Unit: 58th Battalion MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 24 April 1918
Age: 23
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

William was the son of John Goodwin who, in 1918, was living at 275 London Road, Hazel Grove. He had attended the local Wesleyan School, including Church's Sunday School. Like his father, he became a coal miner working at Poynton Colliery.

In 1915, he joined the army, enlisting into the local territorial Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment - the 6th Battalion. He went overseas in September 1916. During 1917, he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. John Eaton in his book "Hazel Grove to Armageddon" suggests that this unit was the Corps' 15th Company attached to the 15th Division. This may be a typographical error as 15th Company was part of the Army's 5th Division.

Later in the year, he was home on sick leave and, when fit enough to return to duty in the December, he was transferred to another unit which was more in need of replacements. It is not known which Company this was, but it will be one of those which, in March 1918, were amalgamated to form the new larger formation of the 58th Battalion.

On the day he was killed, William and his comrades were near the village of Glisy, east of the city of Amiens. The British army had been on the defensive in this sector since 21 March when the German spring offensive had opened. Over the following few days, all of the gains of the previous two years had been lost. But, by now, the major attacks had been switched to Flanders, much further north, but the Germans were still trying to press their advantage in the south.

When under attack, the 64 heavy Vickers guns of a Machine Gun Battalion had specific roles. Their gun emplacements were positioned a little way behind the front line and such that their fields of fire were inter-locked so they could cut down any infantry attack. The guns, each operated by a seven man team, were capable of firing 500 rounds a minute - a truly devastating weapon. But this meant, that they were always early targets for the German artillery desperate to knock them out.

At 3.40am on 24 April, a German artillery bombardment opened on the British trenches, followed by the infantry attack at 7am. Very soon after, two guns of "A" Company receive direct hits, causing several casualties. The advancing Germans were fired on near Hangard Wood, a scene of fierce fighting between the infantry of both sides. Another two guns received direct hits and five guns from "C" Company were captured.

"B" Company, having suffered considerable casualties, was moved back into reserve and it's guns reallocated to companies that were going to support a British counter-attack. At 3.40pm, a further two gun teams were sent forward to assist the 9th Battaalion, London Regiment. Whilst this party was moving up, its officer was wounded and two men killed.

By early evening, four gun teams were ordered to, take up positions north of Gentelles, ready to support another counter-attack, by firing over the heads over the attackers and onto the German positions. Due to casualties, they were not in position until the early hours of the 25th.

Sometime during the day, William had been killed and his body was never recovered and identified.

   
           
   
     
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