The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow, Part 4: Trouble with Sergeants

I’m posting the First World War memoirs of my grandfather-in-law, Sampson J. Goodfellow, a few pages at a time…

(Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.)

We immediately got on the train but did not leave Liverpool until 11:30 a.m. We passed Crewe, Rugby, the outskirts of London and reached Shorncliffe, Kent at 8:15 p.m.

We marched to Napier Barrack where we went under canvas. What a place, it had the nickname of Peckerhill.

This was the place where they isolated all the troops who had Veneral Disease before being sent to Cambridge Hospital. After our inspection, we lost a number of our troops. The place was disinfected for us.

It was near the north entrance to Shorncliffe Barracks which contained Sir Martins Plains Risbery Barracks, Napier Barracks, etc. To one side was a hill so steep you had a difficult time climbing it; a row of houses at the bottom and on the other side was a road leading into the camp.

The cookhouse was situated near this steep incline, and played a part in what took place at a later date which I will explain presently.

We were then informed by our Officers that we were to get new Officers. We would be broken up and go as a draft to the six units already in France; 1st, 2nd, 3rd Supply Columns and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Ammunition Columns.

I was reappointed a Lance Corporal, the lowest of the N.C.O. and the workhorse of the Unit. I was Corporal of the Guard many times; we had four points to mount guard and I did them all one after the other while other N.C.O.’s did nothing but walk around showing their stripes.

I brought it to the attention of the Regimental Sergeant-Major Wilcox that it was against the Military Law and Kings’ Regulations. All he did was pat me on the back and said he would look into the matter. The Company Sergeant-Major Bourne took the question into his hands, and then I was I Corporal of the Guard every other night.

I did a number of other jobs around the camp when they required a Noncommissioned Officer.

The Company Sergeant-Major was an old Fusilier Soldier who had served time in the Army at the different places in the British Empire. He told me they were going to have me as Corporal of Guard on the truck depot outside the camp. He then said, “When Sergeant Allan tells you that you are on guard duty, tell him you won’t go on guard.”

I said, “I can’t do that, I will be put in the Clink.”

“Do what I tell you and don’t tell anyone you were talking to me.”

I saad, “Will I come out of this O.K.?”

He said, “Yes.”

Sure enough, Sergeant Allan came up to me that afternoon and said, “You are Corporal of the Guard at the truck depot.”

I said, “I am not, as I have been on guard every night and Corporal duty through the day.”

He said, ” Will you come with me and tell Regimental Sergeant-Major Wilcox what you have said to me?”

I said, “Yes.”

We went to see the Sergeant-Major and Sergeant Allan told him what I had said.

He said, “Do you mean it?”

I said “Yes.”

He said, “You know what that means disobeying an order during a war?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “Be a good boy and go on guard,” and dismissed me.

I went to my tent, put on my best clothes, and went to Shornc1iffe, returning to camp at 11:00 p.m.

They were all waiting for me and I was immediately put under arrest.

The next day I was to go to the Officer’s Orderly Room but instead they took me up in front of Regimental Sergeant-Major Harris, who was the head N.C.O. of Napier Barracks.

He gave me a terrible dressing down, and gave me all types of dirty jobs to do for several days.

One day, Company Sergeant Bourne saw me. He thought the punishment had gone far enough, so he told me to demand to go to the Colonel Orderly Room, which I did.

Sergeant-Major Harris was taken aback. “Who has been talking to you and giving you advice?” he said.

I just told him that the guard duties I had been doing were against King’s Rules and Regulations, then he knew he was beaten. He dismissed me, sent me back to my Unit and told me to be a good boy.

I was made Corporal of the Camp Guard that night. Sgt. Allan was having another go at me.

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