It comes to that time of the year when we get the chance to set aside some time to remember those who surrendered much or all of what they had because their country asked them to make the ultimate sacrifice. In times where we seem to find more time to watch the future than recall the past, a recent series of posts on Facebook from friends disconcerted that FIFA were blocking the wearing of red poppies at a future football match on Remembrance Sunday, many were silenced when one voice pipped up that in real respect every sport should follow the stance of the ACU and to take the day out of the annual event calendar. I for one shall be at my village war memorial again come rain or shine thinking about and thanking those from all sides who lay down their lives in a national cause, I do not focus on the good or bad of how they got to that point as for many there was no choice but to obey their call up for national service.A motorcycle sport legend Oliver Godfrey, a Londoner, was the winner of the first TT race held on the often considered ‘off-road’ mountain circuit in the Isle of Man in 1911 and part founder of Godfrey’s Motorcycles, Great Portland St., London.
Four years later in 1915 he swopped is bike goggles for pilots goggles and his saddle for a cockpit to fly bombing and reconnaissance missions over German lines. During the Battle of the Somme on the 23 September 1916 he flew with the 27 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps on a mission over Cambrai.
Five German fighters intercepted them, led by the famous Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. In the dog fight Godfrey was shot down crashing into the Flanders earth and his body was never recovered remaining one of the lost sons of war.
This year the British Royal Legion is running a campaign to hilight the sportsmen and women who lost their lives in the wars which has provided some of the information for this article and you can read this and more here.
To see more about the Battle of the Somme, below I feature a video conversion of a silent film made by Geoffrey Malins of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, a 77 minute film was made from 8,000 ft of film taken on the battlefield. The film features a few recreations but is considered to be a fairly authentic documentary of the battle in the new media of film. The film does not just concentrate on the trenches but has the War Horses as well as the motorised army with trucks and motorcycles in use. The evacuation of injured and prisoners from the battle field shows that the opposing sides were able to work side by side with compassion.
Replica of Oliver Godfrey’s Indian 500 Bonham Auction Stafford Oct 2011
100 years after the Indian Summer: Oliver Godfrey
Oliver Godfrey: First TT Mountain Course champion
Bob McGrath said:
On 23 September 1916, the day OC Godfrey was shot down The Red Baron scored his second victory. He was very much a newcomer to airfighting at the time and had yet to earn his later reputation and had yet to earn the right to paint his plane red.
The facts seem to corroborate each other. The Red Baron had his second victory on that day shooting down a Martinsyde G100 ‘Elephant’ and that was what 27 Sqn, Godfrey’s squadron, was equipped with.
The Martinsyde earned the nickname ‘Elephant’ because it was a big single seater with poor manouvreability.
Thanks for the additional info Bob