Second son of Edward Hugh Godsal and Marion Grace Godsal (née Wethered) of Winnersh Lodge, Wokingham.
Alan was born at Hawera, New Zealand, on Friday 4th May 1894, second son of Edward Hugh and Marion Grace Godsal. He was educated at Oundle School from May 1905 to 1913 as a member of Berrystead and subsequently of School House.
At the outbreak of war Alan volunteered and was gazetted on Tuesday 22nd September 1914. On Wednesday 19th May 1915 he sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne with his Battalion on the SS Queen. After a short period he was sent to the Ypres Salient and went into training at Dranouter. In July he was appointed Battalion Machine Gun Officer.
After a particularly difficult tour of duty in front of Hooge he was relieved by the 8th Battalion shortly before midnight and returned to camp at Vlamertinghe, arriving at 3.45am the next morning. Just as Alan and the men flopped down onto their beds the Germans launched their attack on Hooge using ‘minenwerfer’ in their preliminary barrage, followed by an attack using ‘Flammenwerfer’ (flame throwers or ‘liquid fire’) for the first time. An hour later Alan was roused and ordered to get the men to ‘stand to’. At 7.00am they marched off, unfed and without any rest to return along the cobbled road to Ypres. They were halted whilst their Colonel, Heriot-Maitland, received orders from Headquarters in the Ramparts of the town. The movement out to the line was difficult and it was not until 1.30pm that they arrived at their assembly position at ‘Zouave Wood’. He led his men in the advance and was able to recapture one of the machine-guns, and was last seen firing his revolver at the enemy who were using liquid fire. He was killed when a shell burst and struck him in the face. Private Frank King* went to pull him in but was killed in the attempt, and he was subsequently buried in ‘Sanctuary Wood’. (* Private Frank King is commemorated on the Menin Gate, see below.)
Colonel Heriot-Maitland wrote: “… quite my most promising officer”.
A brass plaque was erected in his memory in St Nicholas Church, Hurst, with the inscription: “In honour of our Lord Jesus Christ and in memory of Alan Godsal 2nd Lieut: and Batt: Machine Gun Officer 7th Bn. Rifle Brigade: younger son of Edward Hugh & Marion Grace Godsal and nephew of William Charles Godsal of Haines Hill. Born at Hawera, New Zealand, May 4th 1894. Killed in action at Hooge, Flanders July 30th 1915. Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.” [Paul Foster - WW1 Researcher, Belgium]
There are no public contributions written for this casualty
Text in italics supplied by Cenotaph Online, Auckland War Memorial Museum