Horace Cecil Godden was born on 8th February 1889 in the Suffolk village of Boxford. He was one of eleven children to Charles and Sarah Ann Godden. Charles was a butcher and pig trader, and butchering was a trade that Horace also got into on leaving school.
He was after bigger and better things, however, and on 23rd January 1914, he enlisted in the Royal Navy. as a Stoker 2nd Class. His service records show that he stood 5ft 3ins (1.59m) tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. Horace was also noted as having a scar on the back of his left hand.
Stoker Godden was initially sent to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for training. His first sea-going assignment was on board the gunboat HMS Jason and, during his first year with the navy, he served on three ships in total.
Horace was promoted to Stoker 1st Class in December 1914, and served on board another two ships before returning to Chatham in November 1915. His time was not without incident, however, and he spent time in the brig on two separate occasions – for 7 days in May 1915, and for two weeks that October – although his crimes are not recorded.
In March 1916, Stoker 1st Class Godden returned to sea once more, this time on board the sloop HMS Cadmus. He came back to Chatham the following February, and then remained at the HMS Pembroke.
That summer, the Royal Naval Dockyard was packed to capacity, and Horace was billeted in temporary accommodation put in place at Chatham Drill Hall. On the night of the 3rd September 1917, during a German air raid, the Hall received a direct hit and Stoker 1st Class Godden was among those to be killed. He was just 27 years of age.
Horace Cecil Godden was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent.