September 27th, 2016

Bronze plaque to honour Bromsgrove County High School’s WWI dead is rededicated

Updated: 11:12 am, May 07, 2015

A HISTORIC solid bronze plaque created in 1921 to remember ten former pupils from Bromsgrove County High School who died in the First World War has been rededicated.

The memorial, which was feared lost when the new North Bromsgrove High School was built but then found earlier this year, has now taken pride of place in the school grounds.

A special ceremony was held on Armistice Day on Tuesday (November 11) to mark the move and the centenary of the start of the First World War.

During the service, a welcome was given by headteacher David Hadley-Pryce, there was a reading of In Flanders Fields and there was some drill demonstrations done by members of the Bromsgrove Combined Cadet Force (CCF), which is made up of pupils from North and Bromsgrove School.

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Andrew Grant, spoke about the soldiers from the school who served in the First World War.

He also paid tribute to Bromsgrove soldier Pte Robbie Laws who lost his life in Afghanistan in 2009.

After the Last Post, Reveille and two-minute silence at 11am, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant laid a wreath at the foot of the plaque.

Of the 109 soldiers from the school in the 1914-18 conflict, four were decorated – J Stevenson, E Skinner, AS Godsall and Lilian Knight.

Cptn Godsall was gassed during The Great War and was also captured and put in a Prisoner of War camp.

When he returned to Bromsgrove, the modest military man returned to work as a baker in the town.

Mr Grant told The Standard: “I was very impressed, it was a very humbling service.”

And he said the lashing rain was fitting as a reminder of the conditions the soldiers would have faced in the trenches during the 1914-18 conflict.

“It really does bring home what those people did for us and we should never forget it.”

Mr Hadley-Pryce added: “I’m really pleased with how it went – I thought the students were wonderful.

“It was really nice to see the link up between North Bromsgrove and Bromsgrove School through the CCF.

“The part they played in the day was superb.”

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Cpt Samuel Godsall

Samuel Arthur Godsall was probably the most famous of the school’s ‘Tommies’.

This is reflected by him being given the honour of unveiling the school’s war memorial in 1919.

He had been a non-commissioned officer in the Territorial Army before the war. The Roll of Honour of November 7 1914 lists him as a corporal in the 2nd Battalion of the Worcester Regiment.

He must, therefore have enlisted at the beginning of the war and his experience in the Territorials probably led to his commission.

He certainly had an eventful war.

The London Gazette of January 14 reported he had been promoted to second Lieutenant while in July 1917 it announced his promotion to acting Captain in charge of a company.

According to his medal roll index card he began serving in France on the April 1, 1915.

A newspaper article on September 15, 1915 reported the news that he had been gassed. This was a serious incident; Samuel was hospitalised in France, operated on and then sent home. This was not the end of his war though.

On the March 21, 1918 he was leading a company which was defending an exposed section of the St Quentin front.

His section was very exposed to the German attack and during the course of the battle two German attacks were repelled.

For this defence Samuel was later awarded the Military Cross.

However, the German attack could not be permanently held off – the high ground around Samuel was taken, two thirds of the defending garrison were killed and surrender was the only option.

He was taken prisoner by the Germans on March 22, 1918 and held as a prisoner of war in Germany until his repatriation on December 14.

He was awarded the Military Cross on May 5, 1919.

After the war, Samuel married and became a baker like his father. He and his wife settled in Sutton Coldfield where he became captain of the local bowls team!

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