Collegian Eric Hector Goodfellow served with the 28th Battery, IX Brigade, Royal Field Artillery in France and Mesopotamia.1 In the early hours of 8 March 1916, British forces under the command of Lieutenant General Aylmer attacked the Turkish stronghold of Dujaila Redoubt on the banks of the Tigris river.2 On the day of the attack, Goodfellow was the Forward Observation Officer (FOO) for his battery and was with the infantry in the front line directing the fire of his unit's guns. Wounded early in the attack, Goodfellow carried on regardless but was killed when he stood up to get a better view of the Turkish position.3
Born in Auckland in April 1892, Goodfellow was the youngest of Thomas Goodfellow and Jane Maclaurin’s six children.4 His father was the son of one of Auckland’s first settlers, William Goodfellow, who emigrated from Scotland in 1841. At the time of his birth, Goodfellow’s family lived on Dominion Road but in 1902 they purchased a property in Golf Road, One Tree Hill, known as ‘The Brae’, which would remain the family home until the 1950s. The family also owned a property on Waiheke Island where they spent their summer holidays, fishing and sailing.5
Goodfellow attended Auckland Grammar School from 1906 to 1909.6 He was a member of the school cadets and captained the First XV in his final year. Records show that Goodfellow was enrolled as a medical student at Auckland University College (AUC) in 1910.7 At that time, Auckland did not have a medical school but students could undertake their first year of study towards a medical degree at AUC, then complete their studies at Otago or an overseas university.8 Goodfellow did not continue his studies immediately but spent the next three years working as a clerk in Hamilton where his elder brother William owned several businesses, including the rapidly expanding Waikato Co-Operative Dairy Company.9 While working in Hamilton, Goodfellow joined G Battery of New Zealand Field Artillery as a member of the Territorial Forces.10
Medical studies and military service
In September 1913, aged 21, Goodfellow left New Zealand to continue his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh.11 Goodfellow excelled academically during his first year; he secured six University medals, a `Distinction’ in the first professional exam and was awarded the Vans Dunlop scholarship worth £100 for three years for his marks in medical botany and zoology.12 At the end of the academic year, Goodfellow set out on a well-earned holiday, a motor cycling tour of Great Britain, which was almost certainly cut short by the outbreak of war in August.13
Goodfellow volunteered for service with the Royal Army Medical Corps and left England for France with the Australian Voluntary Hospital on 29 August 1914.14 He was one of 25 medical students in the original contingent of staff for the Hospital; most were Australians who, like Goodfellow, were studying in Britain when war broke out.15 When they arrived in France, the Australians set up a hospital at Le Havre but were evacuated to St Nazaire in September as German forces advanced.
In October they had to move again, this time to Wimereux, near Boulogne, where a 200-bed hospital was set up in the Grand Hotel du Golf et Cosmopolite. Within days of being established, the hospital received an influx of wounded from the first battle of Ypres.16
To have known Goodfellow will always be a source of pleasure. Of powerful build and a keen sport, he was still a true student; his popularity was the outcome of solid worth. And now he lies in a land far from his own…
Royal Field Artillery
In late 1914, Goodfellow transferred from the Medical Corps to the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.17 He was sent to England for training at Aldershot, and returned to France in February 1915. On his return, Goodfellow was assigned to the 28th Battery, IX Brigade RFA, which was part of the Meerut Division of the Indian Expeditionary Forces. In the following months, Goodfellow saw action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, was promoted to Lieutenant and was wounded at Loos in September 1915. He was still convalescing in England when his unit received orders to go to Mesopotamia.18
The IX Brigade RFA left Marseille in November 1915 and arrived in Basra in December. In Basra they were assigned to the Tigris Corps to assist with the relief of British troops besieged by Turkish forces in the town of Kut-el-Amara, south of Baghdad.19 The Brigade saw action at Sheikh Sa’ad, Wadi and Hanna in January 1916 and then at Dujaila in March where Goodfellow was killed.20 Second Lieutenant George Locks, who had served with Goodfellow in the IX Brigade since February 1915, wrote of his friend’s death in a letter home to his younger brother Clifford:
`Poor Goodfellow of the R.F.A. was killed instantaneously whilst observing (F.O.O.) after having previously been badly wounded. He was carrying on under great difficulty and whilst in much pain, and truly died the brave and fearless hero he had often proved to be. His body was brought back here and buried in front of his section’s gun park… We all attended the funeral. No man could have been more popular than he and we will all miss him terribly.’21
Goodfellow’s `gallant and distinguished service in the field’ was mentioned in despatches by Lieut-General Percy Lake and he was recommended for, but not awarded, a Victoria Cross.22
At the end of the War, officials were unable to locate Goodfellow’s grave. However, his name appears on the Basra Memorial in Iraq which commemorates more than 40,500 members of the Commonwealth forces who died in Mesopotamia between the outbreak of war and the end of August 1921.23
Sadly, his brother Major James Gordon Goodfellow was killed in France in March 1918 while serving with the Royal Engineers.24 The lives of both brothers are commemorated at the University of Auckland in the form of prizes, established by their brother William, for academic excellence in medicine and engineering.25
Katherine Pawley, Special Collections
- UK, De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, 1914-1919, vol. 5, p.69, accessed via Ancestry.com; Personal correspondence with Celia Locks whose father, 2nd Lieutenant George Locks, served with Goodfellow. I would like to thank Celia for the information and feedback she kindly provided during the course of writing this story.
- Charles Townshend, When God made hell: the British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the creation of Iraq, 1914-1921, London, 2010, pp.224-231.
- The Kiwi: Official Organ of the Auckland University College, 11, 1916, p.24.
- Births, deaths and marriages online, Department of Internal Affairs.
- Arthur Heighway, Sir William Goodfellow: his life and work, London, 1972, p.3.
- Auckland Grammar School Chronicle, IV,1, 1916, p.9.
- Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1911, p.137; Chemistry Department student records, University of Auckland historical collection: part 3, MSS & Archives Vault 130, Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
- Keith Sinclair, A History of the University of Auckland, 1883-1983, Auckland, 1984, p.38.
- Auckland Grammar School Chronicle, p.9; Margaret Rowe, 'Goodfellow, William', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1 October 2013, accessed 2 February 2016.
- ‘Territorial Force - Eric Hector Goodfellow - Lieutenant, New Zealand Field Artillery’, R22203461, Archives New Zealand, Wellington; Press, 20 March 1916, p.7, accessed via Papers Past.
- Kiwi, p.24
- Auckland Star, 26 October 1914, p.2.
- Kiwi , p.24; Waikato Argus, 19 October 1914, p.3.
- Waikato Argus, 19 October 1914, p.3.
- `Australian Voluntary Hospital', Wikipedia entry, updated 15 June 2015, accessed 28 January 2016.
- UK, De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, 1914-1919, p.69; Kiwi, p.24; Personal correspondence with Celia Locks.
- Auckland Grammar School Chronicle, p.9; Kiwi, p.24; UK, De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, 1914-1919, p.69.
- Townshend, p.198; Personal correspondence with Celia Locks.
- '7th (Meerut) Division' Wikipedia entry, updated 21 December 2015, accessed 28 January 2016.
- G.M. Locks, Some impressions of an officer, 1916, p.5, accessed via The First World War, Adam Matthew Digital, 3 November 2015.
- UK, De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, 1914-1919, p.69.
- ‘Eric Hector Goodfellow - Lieutenant, Royal Field Artillery, R20799233, Archives New Zealand, Wellington; ‘Cemetery details: Basra Memorial’, Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, accessed 3 February 2016.
- ‘James Gordon Goodfellow’, Cenotaph Database, Auckland War Memorial Museum, accessed 4 February 2016.
- ‘Prizes’, University of Auckland website, accessed 4 February 2016.