Ernest Godbold was born at Hockwold cum Wilton in Norfolk in 1890. In 1891 he was living there with his grandfather James Godbold, a widower and farm labourer, and his daughter Sarah Godbold, aged 23, who was probably Ernest Godbold's mother. His father, Edward Everett Garnham, aged 20, was then employed as a baker’s assistant in South Lynn, and living at 7 Friars Street. His father and Sarah Godbold would marry in 1895. By 1911 Ernest Godbold had become an uncertified teacher, lodging in Terrington Saint Clement with the family of Thomas Sleight, a carpenter and joiner. Also living in Terrington Saint Clement was Eveline Celice Bond Wright, a 25-year-old single woman and clerk at a fruit farm, who was then living with her father, John Wright, a bootmaker.
Ernest Godbold enrolled at Peterborough College and transferred under a concentration scheme to Bede College in 1915-16, but then left the college to enlist at King’s Lynn into the Royal Norfolk Regiment. He was killed on 12 October, when his battalion was fighting at Flers. The war diary of his unit, the 1/7th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment, describes the days of action leading up to his death.
Bulls Road, near Flers, 11 October 11 p.m.
Last night was spent in digging assembly trenches for our coming attack. To-day nothing has been done owing to enemy observation which will not permit of it.
FLERS TRENCH near FLERS, 12 October 11.30 p.m.
To-day at 2.5 p.m. we attacked BAYONET TRENCH. Last night the assault trenches were completed & all the Battalion lay out in them from 5 a.m. this morning until the attack. The attack was carried out with all four companies in the line disposed in depth one platoon behind the other, D on the right, C B A. On Our Right 7th Suffolk Rgt and on our left 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers 30th Division. B[attalio]n HQ remained in BULL'S ROAD. The object was the attack was first of all to Capture BAYONET & SCABBARD TRENCH and then to sweep on & take LUISENHOF FARM and establish a line beyond it. At 2.5 pm. our artillery barrage commenced & our men advanced to the assault. After advancing about 50 yards the Hun opened fire with M[achine]G[un]s from both flanks & from in front. Our troops continued to advance but before reaching the enemy's trench ran into barbed wire which had not been cut. This wire coupled with the MG fire prevented any further advance. And our men lay down in shell holes from where they brought rifle fire to bear on the Gunners who were standing up in their trenches shooting at them. We caused considerable casualties in this way to the enemy. After dark we made a further attempt to cut a way through to the enemy's trench but the wire proved too strong. The survivors then crawled back to our lines & reformed. The 9th Essex Rgt. then relieved us & the Suffolk Regt. in the Front Line & we came back to FLERS TRENCH, the Reserve Line near FLERS which we are sharing with the Suffolk Regt.
Our Casualties during the attack to-day were:
2/Lieut[enants] C. A. Shepherd, S. R. Mitchley, C. Sizeland, F. Hogben
Capt. J. M. Howlett, Lieut. H. R. G. Montgomery, 2/Lieut. H. Thorne, 2/Lieut. W. J. Jones
2/Lieut. H. Smith, 2/Lieut. A. Shaw
Only two officers who went over the top came back unhurt, 2/Lieut.'s E. G. Ketteringham and W. D. Ferguson.
Killed 36; Wounded 125; Missing 51.
War diary of 7th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment, 10-12 October 1916 (Ref: WO 95/1853/1).
It is safe to assume that Ernest Albert Godbold was one of those 36 Other Ranks killed in action on 12 of October 1916. His probate and his personal effects were granted to Eveline Alice Bond Wright of Terrington Saint Clements, indicating that she had a close bond to Ernest.
Ernest Albert Godbold’s body was never identified, and therefore his sacrifice is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. His name is also recorded on war memorials at Terrington Saint Clement, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour.