James Godden 1879-1917

Private James Godden, 2717 Army Cyclist Corps

James Godden 1879-1917
Cigarette Card featuring James Godden

James Godden was born in Bridgwater in October 1879 to Charles and Mary Godden. Charles was a labourer born in Southampton, and in 1881 the family lived in Queen Street. His siblings were Henry, Robert and Beatrice.

By1891, the family had moved to 32 West Quay. In 1901 James was recorded as working as a hairdresser. In 1906 he married Hester Jane Addicot and by 1911 he had set up home in 10 West Quay and they had had a son and a daughter, Leslie and Ruby and had taken in a family of lodgers. The Western Daily Press of 3 May 1917 described how James was a well-known athlete and 'known throughout the West of England as a crack cyclist, and competed at the bid athletic meetings at Exeter, Plymouth, Bath, and Bristol, in addition to local sports. He had won altogether over 400 prizes'.

James Godden Bridgwater
A Judges' Postcard of the Bridgwater Castle Watergate, which shows a sign advertising James' business - hair cutting shaving saloon and presumably bicycle repair. Note the cycle also.

After the First World War had broken out, in December 1914 James enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry, later being transferred, appropriately, to the Army Cyclist Corps.

He died in Britain on 29 April 1917, at the time he was attached to the training centre of the Army Cyclist Corps. At the start of the War he seems to have served in the Somerset Light Infantry, but then transferred to the Army Cyclist Corps. On 1 September 1915 the Bridgwater Mercury ran an article entitled 'SUCCESSFUL ARMY CYCLIST - PTE. J. GODDEN IN FORM', which detailed how Godden had won four prizes in the cycling events at an army sports day.

Unfortunately, James mental health deteriorated though the war, and he died at the Somerset and Bath Lunatic Asylum.

More about the Army Cyclist Corps can be read about here, and more details on James can be found here.

Each of the war stories on our website have been updated in our book, Bridgwater and the First World War.