Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

It is a surprising sadness that a man such as Sergeant William Goodwillie who is widely memorialised should leave so little evidence of his life.
Birth records indicate that William Goodwillie was born in Gosport in 1873 but he appears in no census between 1881 and 1911, and in no marriage register. The little we know of him comes from the National Roll which tells us that William had served in the army for 21 years before retiring and being recalled in 1914.
He was posted to the Western Front as early as September 1914 and fought in the Battle of the Marne, at Ypres and Loos. He lost his life in fighting at Thiepval Wood in a gallant attempt to save two fellow soldiers.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Sergeant William Goodwillie (12562), 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, died on 17/05/1916. He is buried at Miraument Communal Cemetery.
William Goodwillie is remembered on the St. Wilfrid's Church WW1 memorial (where his year of death is incorrectly recorded as 1915), on a personal memorial plaque at St. Mary's Church and on the Cenotaph. He is listed in the National Roll of the Great War, Section X, p303 which gives his address as 18 Glencoe Road Buckland.
Tim Backhouse
January 2014