Albert Alfred Goddard was born on 7th April 1891, and was the oldest of seven children. His parents were Suffolk born and bred Alfred and Ellen Goddard, and it was in the village of Saxtead where Alfred – and then Albert and his brothers – worked as farm labourers.
War was coming to Europe and, when the call came, Albert took his place amongst the many. He enlisted in the Royal Navy on 24th May 1916, joining as a Stoker 2nd Class. His service records confirm that the stood 5ft 5.5ins (1.66m) tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.
Stoker Goddard was initially sent to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for his training. After six months, he transferred to HMS Victory – the Portsmouth Naval Base – where he spent nearly a year, and gained promotion to Stoker 1st Class.
In August 1917, he was again assigned to HMS Pembroke. Chatham’s Dockyard was particularly busy that summer, and Albert was billeted in temporary accommodation in the base’s Drill Hall.
On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force scored a direct hit on the barracks and Drill Hall; Stoker 1st Class Goddard was killed instantly. He was just 26 years old.
The local newspaper reported that “the recent air raid at Chatham has brought grief to our locality. Mr and Mrs Alfred Goddard, of Saxtead, were officially notified that their sailor son was among those who were killed; they journeyed to London on Wednesday, and were present a their son’s funeral on the following day.” [Framlingham Weekly News: Saturday 8th September 1917]
Albert Alfred Goddard was laid to rest, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.