In Memoriam: Owen Frederic Goodbody

Photograph of Owen Frederic Goodbody in uniform.
Owen Frederic Goodbody

Owen Frederic Goodbody (Bootham 1903-8), Second Lieutenant, Royal Engineers, contracted enteric fever in the Dardanelles and died at Alexandria, October 20th 1915. He was born in Blackrock in 1890.

A correspondent sent the following for the obituary in Bootham magazine (December 1915), which includes notes from O. F. Goodbody’s diary: ‘After leaving school Owen entered Trinity College and took the Aits and Engineering Degrees of Dublin University. He then joined the Engineering Staff of the Great Southern and Western Railway, and was with them for two years, his industry and skill being much appreciated by his fellow-engineers. When the War broke out he realised the nature of the struggle, that his country was fighting not only for its honourable obligation towards Belgium, but for its own existence as a nation and for those ideals of liberty and justice he had learned at school. In no spirit of adventure, therefore, but from a firm conviction that it was the right thing to do, he put himself and his engineering knowledge at the service of his country by asking for and obtaining a commission in the Royal Engineers.

After some months’ training at Chatham and other places in England he was appointed Second Lieutenant in the 72nd Field Company, R.E., attached to the 13th Division, which was ordered to the Dardanelles in June 1915 – After calling at Alexandria the 13th Division went to Lemnos, and here the Engineers stayed for two or three weeks improving the water supply and building piers at Mudros to facilitate landing and embarking of troops and stores.

On the morning of August 5th they left Lemnos for Gallipoli and arrived off Anzac about g.30 p.m., and came under fire immediately on landing. They were guided to their “rest ” camp, and when, they got there lay down where they were and tried to go to sleep. As O.F.G. says in his diary, “to how many this was possible I do not know, as there were bullets flying over our heads with a horrible whistling noise, and the unfamiliar sound of musketry was not a good narcotic. . . . Daylight brought a fusillade of rifle fire and the roar of deep-throated guns, and for us the chance to examine our position. It ‘ seemed’ safe, as everything went over our heads; however, we were enlightened as we sat down to breakfast (tinned sausages); a shell burst over us: one poor fellow went to his Maker and two others were wounded. The tinned sausages were rather like medicine after that.”

Owen seems to have liked his brother officers, all of whom with one exception were Irishmen; so that it was a disappointment to find the company was to be split up. The 1st and 2nd Sections joined the 40th Brigade, and the 3rd and 4th, under Major Wolff and Lieutenants Bradstreet and Goodbody, the 39th Brigade, to form a Corps Reserve.

An attack on the Turkish position was begun the same afternoon, when the gully (Rest Gully), as Owen says in his diary, “became a place which was very much better to be out of, but we had to remain seven hours there. At last our turn came to form up; we were to be the last to leave the gully, and my place was to be at the rear of the column. What hitch occurred I do not know; but, instead of passing a certain point at 11.30 p.m., we could not pass till 2 a.m. next day. I must admit that the delay made me uneasy, as to move in daylight meant that we should be seen and perhaps mowed down by machine-gun fire. However, we got a move on at last and started moving in short spurts of about 200 yards, when there would be more delay; we were moving along the beach. At each stop every man, already dog tired, immediately lay down and was asleep before he was properly stretched on the ground. This was a great trial to me, who was responsible that there was not a gap in our part of the column or any straggling. I used to go to the head of our lot, and as soon as the column in front started to move would run back and waken the sleepers. I was in great fear of sleeping myself also, and of letting them, or those who were not asleep, go off without me. As we were moving along the beach going north from Anzac two destroyers were shelling the Turkish positions, so that the Turkish fire might not interfere with the general British advance. It was still dark, but dawn was imminent, and we were still very much exposed. Some stray bullets came over just to remind us where we were. One of them went through the sleeve of my tunic, but did no harm. I am very glad no men were hit.

“Daylight was now on us, and we were lucky to have got under cover in a dried-up water-course, up which we proceeded about half a mile inland, where we were ordered to dig in and await orders. We took the opportunity to get a little food, biscuits and bully beef, but must not drink. No source of water was known yet, and all the water the men had was in their water bottles.

“.. . September 1st, on.—Life at Gazi Baba might have been very pleasant, but there were many things which often made me wish to be back in the Agyle Dere. Water was very scarce; half a gallon a day was often our ration, in fact nearly always. The place was very much crowded and dirty, and the Turks shelled us without fail twice per day, sometimes three times. . . . Shrapnel once burst over us while making troughs, every man diving for what cover he could get underneath the troughs, the bullets dropping within a few feet of us and burying themselves in the timber. Another unpleasant encounter with a shell was when a bullet (shrapnel) came through an unfinished part of the roof of our dug-out while we were at dinner, smashed an officer’s plate and cup, and buried itself in the ‘table.’ … .

“We began engineering work in real earnest under the Assistant Director of Works, Major Jellicoe. The company were in charge also of the water supply, which made many problems for us, especially the watering of 2,000 odd horses and mules. We built a number of long wooden troughs ; these were adequate enough, but it was quite impossible to get sufficient pumps to keep them filled, as the animals drank a great deal faster than our small pumps were able to deliver. All the water in the first place had to be pumped into tanks out of a tankship ; we also had road making, and the making of a small narrow gauge trolley to supervise.’

“What further problems arose over the water supply, etc., I do not know, as September 8th saw me on board a hospital ship.”

O. F. Goodbody had enteric fever, and was brought to Lemnos, and then changed to another hospital ship for Alexandria, where he was taken to the 21st General Hospital. The disease seemed to run its course normally; the patient appeared to be getting better, even to be convalescent, and was hoping to be allowed home soon for a change, when complications set in which necessitated an operation. The fever, unfortunately, had left him too weak to stand the operation, and he passed quietly away on October 20th, aged nearly 25 years. He played a man’s part; he showed us an example of loyalty to the right and devotion to duty, for which he was willing to give his life. He will be remembered as a gallant Irish gentleman, beloved by everyone who knew him.”

Hungarian refugees at Bootham

I am hoping that Old Scholars and other readers might be able to fill in some pieces of the story regarding Hungarian refugees at Bootham c.1956-57.

An Old Scholar sent this memory in response to an email about Bootham’s initial response to the Syrian refugee crisis:

“As a pupil in 1956 we were asked to make wooden partitions between beds for the Hungarian refugees. I remember spending long hours in the workshop doing this. One of the Hungarian refugees graduated in medicine with us in Edinburgh.”

I found this reference in Bootham magazine, May 1957:

“The Lodge found a new use when refugees from the top storey of No. 54 were housed there while the floor was made safe. The ability of the floor to move fully six inches vertically when encouraged had apparently been brought to official notice.”

I’ve yet to find any other references in the records from the period, so if anyone can remember anything about refugees at Bootham in the 1950s, please do get in touch (