58291 Private Donald James White Goodman, Northamptonshire Regiment, later 32465 17th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment
Born on 20th November 1896 in Stevenage
Died on 12th March 1971 in Ringshall
Donald James White Goodman was born in Green Street, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, the son of Janet Mary Goodman, a Dressmaker. He was then adopted by Jacob White and Elizabeth née Whitman. Jacob was a Grocer and, in the 1891 Census, he and Elizabeth lived at 8 Common Side, Studham. However, Jacob died in Studham on 18th March 1899, leaving Elizabeth a widow with two year old Donald.
Therefore, by 1901, Donald lived with his adopted mother Elizabeth and her parents, James and Eliza Whitman, at The Laundry, 14 Ringshall. The Laundry was then run by Eliza Whitman, assisted by Elizabeth. In the 1901 Census Donald, whose surname is recorded Goodman, is listed as an adopted child. However, throughout his childhood, village records give his surname as White.
Donald White, Infant, started at Little Gaddesden School on 16th April 1901, aged 4 years and 5 months.
In common with many of the older boys at Little Gaddesden School, he later spent some time out of school working. The Log Book entry for 14th September 1909 records: “Donald White, Wilfred Duncombe and James Whitman at school again. These three boys have been working in the Harvest-Field.” He was then aged nearly 13.
Donald stayed at school until 29th March 1911, when he left from Standard 7.
Joining the Little Gaddesden Scouts 7
Donald White joined the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop on 11th January 1912, soon after its formation on 26th October the previous year. He was a member of the Peewit Patrol, whose Patrol Leader Arthur Whitman was killed at St Julien on 31st July 1917. The Scouts first met in the Reading Room at John o’Gaddesden’s House but meetings soon moved to the Armoury, at 27 Little Gaddesden, the home of their Scout Master, Harry Temple, who was assisted by 17 year old Bernard Phillips. Miss Bridget Talbot was their President and Mr Humphrey Talbot their Treasurer.
Scouts in the other Patrols who served were: Stanley Austin, Sidney Bellamy, Edward Bunn, Kenneth Edge, Gerald Green, Bernard Halsey, Percy Hobbs, Frank (Henry F.) Johnson, George Pinnock, Archie Wells, Frank Whitman and Jim Whitman.
Donald left the Scouts in December 1912, a comment in the Little Gaddesden Scout Diary noting “Ringshall Laundry“, where he spent his whole working life, initially working for his grandmother and then his mother.
Very little is known about Donald’s War Service as only his Medal Records survive. He enlisted into the Northamptonshire Regiment, serving first in the 3rd Battalion, a Reserve Battalion which remained in the UK. However, he also served in the 1st/4th Battalion, territorial force, which was in Palestine then Egypt in 1917 and 1918. Then, in late 1918 and early 1919 he was in the 2nd Battalion, which saw service on the Western Front. Donald’s service was completed in the 17th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, a Battalion formed in 1918, but the date and reason for that transfer are not known. He was awarded the British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal for his War Service, so he must have served overseas, but it is unclear whether that was on the Western Front or in Palestine/ Egypt or both.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Donald W Goodman is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. The regiment listed for him is the Northamptonshire Regiment, in which he first served. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Also listed on the Roll are his uncle Joseph Whitman and eight of his first cousins, all grandchildren of James and Eliza Whitman with whom he grew up. They are: Edward Hoar, George Hoar R.I.P., Richard Hoar, Samuel Oakins R.I.P., Stephen Oakins, Arthur Whitman R.I.P., Francis Whitman and James Whitman. His future brother in law William Wells is also listed.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
Donald was demobilised in 1920 and then returned to the Laundry at 14 Ringshall. The next year, on 15th January 1921, at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden, Donald James White Goodman married 23 year old Bertha Wells. She lived at 31 Ringshall and was the daughter of Harry Wells. Donald, 24, was a Laundryman.
Donald and Bertha had five children:
- Peter James, born 28th April 1921, who died aged 2 in October 1923
- Ruth Elizabeth, born 9th December 1923
- Roger White, born 3rd January 1927
- Janet Alice, born in 1928
- William Donald, born in 1932
Laundry Proprietor 3
The 1939 Register shows Donald and his family living at Ringshall Laundry (14 Ringshall). Donald’s mother had died in March 1939 and he became the Laundry Proprietor; Bertha has “Unpaid Domestic Duties” and the children were at school.
Donald Goodman is listed as a member of B Company, 7th Hertfordshire Battalion, Home Guard. He was a member of No 5, Little Gaddesden, Platoon whose area included Ringshall, Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Great Gaddesden. He served in the Home Guard until the 7th Battalion stood down on 3rd December 1944.
Other First World War veterans who were members of the No 5, Little Gaddesden, Platoon included: Albert Boarder, Walter Bunn, Horace Halsey, Joe Hing, Harry Hucklesby, Sidney (Jubal) Jones, John Mayling, Arthur Maunders, William Newman (father of Billy Newman), Edwin Purton, Reginald Purton, Frank Rogers and Edward Saunders.
The Platoon also contained young men, most of whom were subsequently called up for military service. Among these were George Halsey, son of Horace Halsey; Leonard Hing son of Lewis Hing; Raymond Hing, son of Joe Hing; Fred Hucklesby, son of Harry Hucklesby; Fred Liberty, son of George Liberty; John Oakins son of Steve Oakins; Gordon and Maurice Purton sons of Reginald Purton and Arthur Whitman son of James Whitman and named after his uncle Arthur Whitman.
Donald and Bertha remained at Ringshall for the rest of their lives; Donald and then his son Billy continued to run the Laundry. Bertha died, aged 66, on 14th March 1963 and Donald, aged 74, on 12th March 1971. They are buried in the new churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden.
6. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
7. Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922
9. 1918-21 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Little Gaddesden
11. Little Gaddesden Marriage Register
12. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947
13. Little Gaddesden Burial Register
14. Brock, Capt. Alan St H (ed.), (1945?) 7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard. A History of the Battalion 1940-44
15. Police Constable Parker’s list of Little Gaddesden’s Local Defence Volunteers, compiled in May 1940
16. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge
Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson