The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (891) Private Fines Henry Godding, 53rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.329
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 25 November 2018
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Michael Kelly, the story for this day was on (891) Private Fines Henry Godding, 53rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

891 Private Fines Henry Godding, 53rd Battalion, AIF
KIA: 30 September 1918
Story delivered 25 November 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Fines Godding.

Fines Henry Godding was born in 1896 in Grafton, New South Wales, to Charles and Florence Godding, one of three sons born to the couple. Charles had served in the Boer War, and was for many years a warder at Grafton Gaol. Young Fines Godding attended Grafton Public School and worked as a farmhand.

Fines Godding was turned down on his first attempt to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force for health reasons, but was accepted in February 1915 after undergoing a small operation. His younger brother, Clarence, enlisted a year later, the two brothers serving in different battalions. The youngest Godding brother, James, was too young to enlist, but would later serve with the 2/6th Field Regiment during the Second World War.

Fines Godding was appointed to the 17th Battalion and, after a period of training in Australia, embarked for active overseas service in early May. He continued his training in Egypt before being sent to Gallipoli, arriving on 20 August 1915. The following day the 17th Battalion launched an attack on a Turkish position known as Hill 60, the final action of the August Offensive.

Some weeks later, Private Godding was shot in the right shoulder, and was sent to hospital in Egypt via Malta. He was finally able to rejoin his battalion, now training in Egypt, in March 1916, just days before they left for the Western Front.

The 17th Battalion took part in its first major battle on the Western Front at Pozieres in July 1916. On the 26th of July, Godding was again wounded, suffering bomb wounds to his left knee, throat, and head, as well as superficial wounds to left temple and left side.

He was sent to hospital in England to recover and recuperate, and when he returned to France in October 1916 was taken on strength of the 53rd Battalion.

Godding spent the bitterly cold winter of 1916 and 1917 undertaking training courses and spending time detached for duty with trench mortar batteries. By March 1917 he was severely run down, and spent some months in hospital in England recovering from general debility.

In May 1917 Godding’s brother Clarence, serving with the 19th Battalion, was posted missing after his battalion fought at Bullecourt. Fines wrote regularly to try to find out what had happened to Clarence, but the news that he had been killed in action was not confirmed until July the following year.

Godding returned to the 53rd Battalion in August 1917 and took part in the attack on Polygon Wood. The battalion spent the remainder of the year rotating in and out of the front line.

In March 1918, Godding was sent to England on leave. He returned to the battalion just in time to take part in the defence of Corbie after the Germans launched their spring offensive.

His health continued to suffer, and he was evacuated to hospital in England the following month. Godding rejoined his unit for the final time in France in mid-September 1918.

Less than a fortnight later, in the predawn hours of 30 September 1918, the 53rd Battalion, entered the bitter fighting to capture the Hindenburg Line near the French village of Bellicourt. Despite meeting intense German machine-gun fire, the 53rd Battalion was able to push on steadily, reporting “terrific hand-to-hand fighting, accompanied by many individual acts of gallantry”.

Around four hours after the attack began Private Fines Gooding was killed in action. He was hit by machine-gun fire and his body put aside in a trench until it could be buried. Today he lies in the Tincourt New British Cemetery under the words chosen by his father, “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord”. Fines Godding was 23 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Fines Godding, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

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