An officer of The Buffs -another story from the first day of the Somme

Edouard Herbert Allan Goss, 1877 – 1916

Temporary Lieutenant, 7th Battalion, The Buffs East Kent Regiment

In this second post on Sevenoaks men killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, I focus on one of the three officers from the town killed that day.

Edouard H A Goss was born in Burma on 13th June 1877, the son of Louis Allan Goss, Inspector of Schools in Burma and his wife, Marie Leonie Goss.

The 1891 census shows Edouard living at 4, Oak Field Grove, Bristol, with his mother, and siblings: Leo, Clement, Cecil and Marie. Aged four, Marie, is the only one not to have been born in Burma. Edouard’s mother was born on the French Colony of the Isle of Bourbon in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, now known as Reunion Island

Edouard was educated at Clifton College 1889 to 1895 and lived in Bristol until around 1901, leaving for Burma in 1902 where he worked in the Burma Forest Service, and was a member of the Burma Bombay Trading Association. He returned to the UK in November 1905 and by 1911 was resident at 20 Brookside, Cambridge with his parents and sister, Marie, while working as an assistant in the timber business.

His application for a temporary commission, dated 17th November 1914, showed that he could ride and had served for approximately five years with the volunteer rifles. He applied to serve with any Kentish unit. The officer who interviewed him at Maidstone wrote that “He is 37 years of age but should make a very good officer” He gave his present address for correspondence as Fig Farm, Sevenoaks, which he had run for some time. On joining up he passsed responsibility to a manager and thereafter stationed himself at the Royal Oak Hotel in Sevenoaks when on leave.

He was gazetted Second Lieutenant in December 1914 and was stationed at Purfleet for some time before being posted to France in October 1915. He was later Mentioned in Despatches. He was last on leave in May 1916, returning to the Front on 16th May.

Edouard was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Some service records survive and show that he was killed instantly by a shell. His friend, Captain Kenchington, later recorded the incident.

“REPORT BY CAPTAIN A.G. KENCHINGTON “B COMPANY”
ON OPERATIONS OF 1st July 1916

1. TWO PLATOONS DETAILED TO TAKE CRATER AREA

Before “Y” day I had collected and stored in No 10 sap necessary bombs and apparatus. I had put notice-boards directing runners to this point at the end of all saps trenches in the crater area.

At Zero (07.30), the three sections of each platoon advanced as arranged round to flanks and the other two sections with snipers went over the craters which were very muddy.

The left hand party entered the enemy trenches with only one casualty, the platoon commander Lieut E.H.A.Goss who was killed instantly by a shell. This platoon found the rear portion of the crater area quite knocked out of recognition, and soon overcame two
bombing parties and three or four snipers who opposed them”.

In the book Historical Records of the Buffs 1914-1919 by RSH Moody, published in 1922 it says

The Carnoy mine craters took six hours to clear, and six hours very heavy fighting it was, carried out under 2nd Lt Tatam whose excellent work was rewarded by a M.C. C Company was soon called away to aid the East Surreys, as were later two platoons of A Company. In fact, these two platoons of A, together with one of C Company, under Lts Dyson and Budds respectively, reached the final objective and held that part of it allotted to the East Surrey Regiment until relieved by other troops. Again it became necessary about noon to send up half of D Company to make good part of the final objective of the 7th Queen’s. This was done successfully, but the company lost its commander Capt GT Neame, during the operation.

There is no doubt that during the whole operation, which was carried out more or less as planned, our troops encountered far more oppostion than was anticipated; particularly was this the case at the craters, to attack which only two platoons were originally assigned, a number of men quite inadequate. The whole position, indeed, proved to be a very strong one, consisting of four lines.

The batttalion lost the following casualties on this day:

Killed:

Capt G T Neame, Lts P G Norbury and E H A Goss and 2nd Lt J F Baddeley and 48 other ranks.

Edouard Goss was initially buried on the Carnoy Montauban Road but after the war his body was exhumed and reinterred in Danzig Alley British cemetery, Mametz, East of Albert, France.

In a brief obituary, the Sevenoaks Chronicle recorded that

He was very highly respected by all who knew him, embodying as he did, the finest qualities of a typical English gentleman.

He is remembered on the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation Memorial, in the cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Rangoon, Myanmar. He is also remembered on the Riverhead memorial as well as the nearby Sevenoaks War Memorial at The Vine.

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