The farming lads

Arthur and Edmund (Ned) Goodchild 

Arthur and Ned were two of four brothers from Grundisburgh, Suffolk who all fought for Britain in WW1. Both wrote hundreds of letters home to their mother.

Edmund was 21 when he volunteered but Arthur was only 17 and officially underage. They joined the army separately in Suffolk but both ended up in the 9th Suffolk Regiment training at Shoreham Camp in September 1914.

Ned seemed a shy and responsible young recruit but Arthur got himself occasionally into trouble and ‘confined to barracks’.

‘I feel strong and well, the army is making a man of me. I have learnt what rough life is, I shan’t know how to feel when I sleep in a bed again and have my meals off a table, after sleeping on the floor and having my blankets for a chair and my knees or the floor for a table. You would laugh to see us sitting round the tent, laughing and talking, all as happy as can be.’
Arthur, 28th October 1914. (Quote credit 2).

At Shoreham they learnt drill, route marching, ‘trenching’ and much more. When bad weather made Shoreham Camp impossible to live in they were both billeted in Brighton; Ned with a local policemen and Arthur with the motherly Mrs Cooper. Both enjoyed the sights and sounds of Brighton and young Arthur even fell in love with a girl named Dolly.

Tell Arthur I think he is getting proud since he has been in the third Suffs.  I reckon he spend most of his spare time writing to that girl at Brighton.  Perhaps he think if he let me know too much I shall go off with her, as I am near and handy’
Ned, 15th June 1915. (Quote credit 2).

Underage and suffering from partial deafness Arthur was moved from Shoreham to a Reserve Battalion at Felixstowe in March 1915. Despite this Arthur was actually sent to France in July – a month before Ned who had remained at Shoreham Camp with the 9th.

Neither returned to Shoreham after that. Arthur was sent from France to Egypt, Salonika and Malta and was eventually discharged from the army in July 1916 after an operation to cure his deafness failed.

Ned continued to correspond with his mother through his time on the front line at the bloody battle of Loos and after, but her last letter sent on 28th December 1916 never reached him. Ned had died at Ypres on the 19th December in the first phosgene gas attack of the war.

Information courtesy of Henry Finch.

Ned letter

A letter from Edmund, October 12th 1914.
Photo credit 30. Creative Commons license CC BY-NC.

Find out more

Suffolk Regiment Cap BadgeVisit Henry Finch’s website to find out more about the brothers:

Watch a film created by Worthing College Students about the Goodchild brothers.

Discover the history of the Suffolk Regiment at the Suffolk Regiment Museum.