Thomas Goudge

The Revd. Thomas Sidney Goudge, M.A., D.S.O., Temporary Chaplain to the Forces 1st Class

Born on 4th December 1870 in Highworth, Wiltshire
Died on 14th October 1954 in Ripe near Lewes, Sussex

Family and Home 1, 2, 3, 4

Thomas Sidney Goudge was born in Highworth, the second of the 5 children of Joseph Goudge and Mary née Hall. He was baptised in a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in the Swindon Circuit on 17th February 1871. His father was then a Railway Clerk on the Great Western Railway.

Thomas had four siblings:

  • Joseph Ernest, born 22nd April 1869
  • Ethel Mary, born 28th July 1872
  • Kate Millicent, born 16th September 1875
  • William Henry, born 29th October 1877

Census returns show the family living in Swindon during Thomas’ childhood. In 1871 their address was 32 Prospect. However, by 1881 they had moved to 13 Wellington Street. Their father Joseph was still a Railway Clerk while Joseph Jnr, 11, Thomas, 10, Ethel, 8, Kate, 5 and William, 3 were all at school.

Education 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Thomas attended the Wesleyan College, Sheffield. However, the Register of Lad Clerks in the Service of the Great Western Railway Company shows that, between 8th March 1886 and 6th March 1887, he worked as a Lad Clerk in the Carriage Department of the GWR at Swindon.

Thomas later attended London University, matriculating in January 1889. He subsequently gained an Exhibition to Merton College, Oxford. He matriculated there, aged 19, on 15th October 1890 and graduated as a B.A. in 1893. The 1891 Census shows him, aged 20, at home with his parents and siblings at 4 Brunswick Terrace, Bath Road, Swindon. His entry notes: “B.A. London University. Scholar Merton Coll. Oxford.” His brother Joseph, 21, was a Scholar at Pembroke College, Oxford. Ethel, 18 was at home while Kate, 15 and William, 13 were at school.

Thomas was later admitted to the degree of M.A.

Employment 8, 9

On leaving Oxford in 1893, Thomas took Holy Orders in the Church of England. Between 1893 and 1895 he was Curate at St Paul’s Church, Deptford, living at 11 Alpha Road, New Cross. He was priested at Rochester Cathedral in 1894. Then, in 1895, he was appointed Vicar of Chislehurst, Kent, where he remained until 1898.

Joining the Army Chaplains’ Department 9

Thomas then joined the Army Chaplains’ Department and was appointed Acting Chaplain to the Forces at Woolwich from 1898 to 1899, and Chaplain to the Forces at Stanhope Lines in Aldershot, Surrey from 1899 to 1900. However, as the result of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, he was then posted to South Africa.

Service during the 2nd Anglo-Boer War 9, 10, 11, 12

Thomas served in South Africa as an Acting Chaplain to the Forces 4th Class in the Army Chaplains’ Department, a position which equated to the rank of Captain. He was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal and the King’s South Africa Medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902.

Chaplain to the Forces 1903 – 1914 9

According to the biographical detail included in his Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902, Thomas was posted to serve at Up Park Camp in Jamaica from 1903 to 1906, then at Curragh Camp in Ireland from 1906 to 1908. However, he then returned to South Africa, where he served at Bloemfontein from 1909 to 1913. That was followed by further service in Dublin, Ireland during 1913 and 1914.

The Outbreak of War 13, 14, 15

At the outbreak of the First World War, Thomas was posted to the Western Front with the British Expeditionary Force. He was by then an Army Chaplain 3rd Class, equivalent to a Major. The exact date of his departure for France is unknown but it was early enough for him to be awarded the 1914 Star with clasp and roses, indicating that he had served under fire or within range of enemy mobile artillery between 5th August and 22nd November 1914.

Mentioned in Despatches (1) 16

Two long Despatches from J. D. P. French, Field-Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief, The British Forces in the Field dated 17th September and 8th October 1914 are included in the “London Gazette” of 20th October 1914. These give details of the retreat from Mons and the Battle of the Aisne. The second includes the text:

I append the names of officers, non-commissioned officers and men brought forward for special mention by Army Corps commanders and heads of departments for services rendered from the commencement of the campaign up to the present date. I entirely agree with these recommendations and beg to submit them for your Lordship’s consideration.
… Rev. T. S. Goudge, Church of England.

Thomas was one of seven Chaplains mentioned.

Mentioned in Despatches (2) 17

The Supplement to the London Gazette of 1st January, 1916 noted the following:

The Secretary of State for War received the following despatch from J. D. P. FRENCH, Field-Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief, The British Army in France:

… In accordance with the last paragraph of my Despatch of the 15th October, 1915, I have the honour to bring to notice the names of those whom I recommend for gallant and distinguished service in the field.
… Goudge, Rev. T. S., B.A., Chaplain to the Forces, 3rd Class.

Mentioned in Despatches (3) 18

Thomas was mentioned in Despatches for a third time in Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatch of 7th November 1917, published in Supplement 30445 to the London Gazette, 24th December 1917. That Despatch recognised service during the period February 26th to midnight on September 20/21st, 1917, whose distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty Haig considered deserving of special mention. By that time Thomas’ rank was Chaplain to the Forces, 2nd Class (temp. Chaplain to the Forces, 1st Class), which was equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel, temporary Colonel.

Awarded the Distinguished Service Order 19

The Supplement to the London Gazette of 1st January 1918 recorded that:

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned rewards for distinguished service in the Field. Dated 1st Jan. 1918: —
… Rev. Thomas Sydney Goudge, Chapl. to the Forces, 2nd Cl. (T./Chapl. to the Forces, 1st Cl), A. Chapl. Dept.

The Role of Army Chaplains 20, 21

The exact reasons for Thomas Goudge’s D.S.O. and mentions in Despatches are not explained. King’s Regulations initially stated that Chaplains were to conduct the army’s compulsory religious services and bury the dead. On active service they were classed as hospital and ambulance personnel. In the early years of the War, they were not supposed to be with the men in front-line trenches, though that stipulation was often ignored. However, from early in 1916, Chaplains were given much greater access to the front line; by the summer of 1916 they could be deployed wherever senior chaplains saw fit, including in offensive operations. The great majority of Awards were earned for assisting wounded men while under fire.

Crockford’s clerical directory for 1920 notes:

The Temporary Chaplains serving in the Army numbered 3036, of whom 112 were killed or died on active service. A very remarkable list of decorations testifies to the work done by these men. They numbered 405 in all [including three VCs and 250 Military Crosses]. There were also some hundreds of [mentions in dispatches] of which there is no complete list. It is a war record of which the Church may be very proud.

 In 1919, King George V conferred the prefix “Royal” on the Army Chaplains’ Department, in recognition of their devoted work since 1914.

Thomas Goudge’s Medals 22

In 2016, Thomas Goudge’s medals were sold by Bonhams. The set comprised:

  • The Distinguished Service Order
  • The Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal
  • The King’s South Africa Medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902
  • The 1914 Star
  • The British War Medal
  • The Allied Victory Medal

An Absent Voter of Little Gaddesden 23

The Spring 1919 Absent Voters’ List, compiled late in 1918, shows Thomas Sidney Goudge of the Rectory, Little Gaddesden as Lieutenant-Colonel, 8th Reserve Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery. Lieutenant-Colonel was the rank equivalent of his position of Chaplain to the Forces 2nd Class. That Absent Voters’ list is the only document to mention a military unit with which Thomas served.

Brother William – a Naval Chaplain 24

Thomas’ younger brother William Henry Goudge served as a Naval Chaplain from 1903 until 1931. His War Service was aboard HMS King George V, including at the Battle of Jutland. Then, from 30th January 1918, he served on HMS Excellent, a shore establishment at Portsmouth, where he was Chaplain and Instructor Commander until his retirement in 1931.

Thomas’ Marriage 9, 25

On 2nd January 1919, the Revd Thomas Sidney Goudge, M.A., D.S.O. married Beatrice Mary Caroline Legge, daughter of the Right Reverend the Honourable Augustus Legge, Bishop of Lichfield. The marriage was registered in Kensington.

Rector of Little Gaddesden and Chaplain to Earl Brownlow 9, 26, 27

In January 1919, Thomas Goudge became Rector of Little Gaddesden and personal Chaplain to Earl Brownlow. He also became Chairman of the Little Gaddesden Parish Council.

Supporting the Returning Veterans 26

In “A Century Remembered”, Michael McCaul notes that some of the returning soldiers, who later became the nucleus of the Little Gaddesden British Legion, bought two redundant army huts and re-built them on a small piece of land in Church Road as a village hall. This was done with the support of the Parish Council, the approval of Lord Brownlow and with considerable assistance from Colonel Wheatley, the Ashridge Agent and father of Philip Wheatley.

In “Little Gaddesden and Ashridge”, Howard Senar also notes that, before the local British Legion started in 1923, the men returning from war had formed an Old Comrades’ Association with a committee of Steve Oakins, William Johnson and Joe Hing. This would have been the group who first benefitted from the army hut village hall.

Supporting Casualties’ Families

Thomas Goudge’s duties as Rector included countersigning the Army W. 5080 Forms, to confirm the names and addresses of living close relatives of each soldier who died on war service. Each form was signed by the next of kin but countersigned as “complete and correct, to the best of my knowledge and belief” by a Minister or Magistrate. Many service records are lost, but Thomas’ signature can be seen on the W. 5080 forms for Albert Bierton, William Henry White and Arthur Whitman.

The Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour 26, 27, 28

The Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden lists 119 names of those from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”. During the First World War, the Rector, Edward Clark, made entries in the Parish Diary, one in late 1917 noting:

The Rolls of Honour, both that of the men serving and that of those who had laid down their lives while serving, lengthened steadily.

Combining the Wartime Rolls 26

After the war, those Rolls were made into one list, it is believed under the auspices of Thomas Goudge. This was framed and kept in the church porch, where it remained until the mid-1930s. Discussion, noted in the PCC Minute Books, then took place debating whether the Roll should remain on view in the church or be stored with the church papers. It was also noted that the Roll needed to be updated.

That idea is borne out by the original pre-Second World War wording on the left hand panel of the Little Gaddesden War Memorial on the village green, which read:

This memorial is erected in honour of the one hundred and thirty six men who went from the villages of Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Ringshall and served in the war of 1914 = 1918. The names of those who gave their lives for their country are cut on the stones here. The names of those who returned to England are preserved in the Church.

Updating the Roll of Honour

The missing names were not added and the Roll was put with the church papers, to be found, updated and restored in 1989 and further updated in a 2018 Centenary Roll. Whilst the Revd. Thomas Sidney Goudge, M.A., D.S.O., Army Chaplains’ Department is not named on it, having come to the village in 1919, it is probably thanks to him that the original, single Roll of Honour existed.

Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver

Dedication of the War Memorial

Thomas was Rector when the War Memorial on Little Gaddesden Village Green was dedicated in 1921. The photo below shows the Memorial shortly after its dedication, with John Oakins son of Stepen Oakins, left, and his cousin Pelham Oakins, son of Samuel Oakins R.I.P., right, in their Boy Scout uniforms.

Photo of Little Gaddesden War Memorial in 1921
Little Gaddesden War Memorial in 1921. Photo courtesy of Lyn Hyde.

Moving away 4, 9, 29, 30

Earl Brownlow died in March 1921 leaving instructions in his Will that the Ashridge Estate was to be sold to pay the death duties. Thomas then resigned the living in 1923 to become Vicar of Saint Mark’s Church, Barnet Vale, where he stayed until 1930. He then became Vicar of Sawbridgeworth and, from 1935 to 1938, he was also the Rural Dean of Bishop’s Stortford. However, he left Sawbridgeworth in 1938 to become Vicar of Selmeston with Alciston in Sussex. His 1939 Register entry there notes that, in addition to that role, he was a Retired Chaplain in the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department.

In 1946, Thomas Goudge retired as Vicar of Selmeston with Alciston and moved to the Old Cottage, Ripe, near Lewes, where he lived until his death aged 83 on 14th October 1954. His widow Beatrice later moved to Salisbury, where she died on 30th March 1970.


1. England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. Wiltshire, England, Non-Conformist Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1810-1987

3. 1871 – 1921 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcriptions

4. The 1939 Register

5. England, Oxford Men and Their Colleges, 1880-1892 

6. UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1956

7. University of London, General Register. Part II. March 31st 1899

8. Clergy List 1896 and 1897

9. Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902

10. UK, British Army Records and Lists, 1882-1962

11.  Anglo-Boer War 1899 – 1902 Queen’s South Africa Medal & Clasps

12. Anglo-Boer War 1899 – 1902 King’s South Africa Medal & Clasps

13. Docs – Services – Royal Army Chaplains Department – British Military History

14.  UK, British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920

15. UK, British Army Records and Lists, 1882-1962

16. Page 8390 | Issue 28945, 20 October 1914 | London Gazette | The Gazette

17. Page 71 | Supplement 29422, 31 December 1915 | London Gazette | The Gazette

18. Page 13490 | Supplement 30445, 21 December 1917 | London Gazette | The Gazette

19. Page 21 | Supplement 30450, 28 December 1917 | London Gazette | The Gazette

20. Church of England Army Chaplains in the First World War: Goodbye to ‘Goodbye to All That’ | The Journal of Ecclesiastical History | Cambridge Core

21. Royal Army Chaplains’ Department | The British Army (

22. Bonhams : A Great War D.S.O. group of six to Reverend T.S.Goudge, Army Chaplain’s Department

23. Spring 1919 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Little Gaddesden

24. UK, Navy Lists, 1888-1970

25. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005

26. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge

27. Senar, H., 1985, Little Gaddesden and Ashridge, Phillimore

28. The Little Gaddesden Parish Diary 1877 – 1918

29. UK, City & County Directories, 1766-1946

30. National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858 – 1995

Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at

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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson