The Home Front in WW1 Forest Gate - through the eyes of Godwin school

Tuesday 21 March 2017

This is the third of a series of posts based on the school log of Godwin School, from 1883 - 1984, providing a fascinating, worms' eye view of the development of the local area.

See here for details of the first post and a background to this series of articles.

Godwin school in 1973

This article, in particular, highlights:

  • Deaths of former Godwin pupils during the conflict;
  • assistance Godwin pupils gave to the war effort;
  • how war-induced fuel and food shortages impacted on Forest Gate;
  • impact of air raids on the district;
  • attempts to provide "business as usual" in the school;
  • the impact of the great flu epidemic on Godwin.
1 Sep 1914 Sent a large parcel of magazines brought by the boys for men of the fleet. ...  Received an intimation that Thomas Pascoe, an old Godwin Road boy went down in the Amphion (ed:a British cruiser, and early WW1 victim.  Sunk in Thames estuary on 6 August, with 1 officer and 131 ratings killed).

HMS Amphion, photographed in 1911

Artist's impression of HMS Amphion being
 sunk by a German mine in August 1914
9 Sep 1914 Sent off a box of gifts for the Expedition Force today, to Southampton Docks.

8 Oct 1914 The master engaged in an educational chat with Standard 6 upon the real causes and inwardness of the war. Emphasised the importance of fidelity to treaties in national life and to one's word in individual life.

9 Nov 1914 In response to a request by the master that each boy should ask to bring one potato for the Belgians. about 4 bushels of excellent specimens have been brought. (ed: a bushel is a measure of about 8 gallons or 32 litres).

10 Nov 1914 The potatoes were dispatched this morning and they will go to H--- during the week.

16 Nov 1914 Today most of the boys have brought some sugar for the Belgian refugees.

18 Nov 1914 Sent off sugar to Lady Bennett for the Belgian refugees.

27 Nov 1914 The funds obtained by the staff and boys for Christmas puddings to the men in France and the fleet was closed today. Three pounds 17 shillings was obtained and sent to the Daily News.

17 Feb 1915 No fires in school today, because of a shortage of fuel.

13 Apr 1915 This is an interesting day. It is 30 years today since Godwin school was opened. ... Nearly 5,000 boys have entered in this period and 180 old boys have joined the colours.

31 May 1915 Received intelligence that Pte AD Eady was killed in action on 5 May and Albert Phimmer on 9 May.

8 Sep 1915 An aeroplane descended on the Flats this morning and remained the whole day. This proved a very strong attraction for the mothers and the children, so that the afternoon attendance suffered very considerably.

Stratford Express with only vague
 coverage of the air raid attacks referred
 to above - dated 15 September 1915

4 Oct 1915 Arthur Burrell, Standard 5, was present and quiet as usual on Friday died suddenly on Saturday at home. The inquest is being held this afternoon. News has come to hand that Douglas Home was killed in the great advance last week. He was in the London Scottish Regiment and went to France in March.

7 Oct 1915 Arthur Burrell was buried today. A wreath was sent from the school and about 40 boys who belong to the Scouts attended to pay their respect to the dead comrade.

15 Oct 1915 The Zeppelin raids on Wednesday night kept many from getting proper rest and in consequence the boys could not attend the next day.

23 Feb 1916 At prize giving the master called attention to ... upwards of 300 Old Boys had joined the colours. He further called the boys attention to those who had fallen in action, as follows: Pte A Eady, 7th City of London Rifles, killed 5 May 1915; Quarter Master Sgt Robert Sere ... killed in action; Pte Cecil Wheeler, Seaforth Highlanders, killed 15 June 1915; Pte Douglas Macgregor, Home London Scottish, killed Sep 1915; Pte Arthur Parker, Australian Contingent, killed on the Gallipoli peninsular, 10 August; Pte Walt Lewis Gilbert, 2/4 Battn Royal Fusiliers, killed 8 Dec at the Dardanelles; Pte Reggie Wagstaffe, 5th City of London Rifles, killed May 1915 in France; Sgt John Rasmussen (ed: see 3 Apr 1913, in earlier post), Rifle Brigade, killed 24 May 1915; Pte Alf Jameson, 8th Battery Somerset Light Infantry, reported missing; Pte Bert Plummer, 2nd Middlesex Reg, killed 9 May; Rifleman Fred Stanley, 12th London Reg, killed in action 27 Apr at St Julien; Sgt Edward King, Bedfordshire Reg, killed in action France 17 Jan 1916.

3 May 1916 The tercentenary of Shakespeare's death was celebrated today. In the afternoon the 7th Standard went through the trial scene of The Merchant of Venice in character.

24 May 1916 Some slight variations have been made in the nature of the lessons today in order to bring the 'British Empire' idea before the scholars. In the afternoon, after play, the classes assembled in the playground. Several of the classes sang suitable songs and the school, the national anthem. Three cheers were given for the king and also the 'Old Godwin Boys' in the area.

2 Oct 1916 The attendance has been considerably affected by the Zeppelin raid, which kept so many up the greater part of the night ... The school hours are altered from today until further notice. They are 9 to 11.45 and 1.15 to 3.30.

Zeppelin of the kind that raided London in 1916
19 Oct 1916 Several Jew boys are absent today in consequence of a Jewish festival.

Earlham Grove synagogue, where many of
the Jewish boys would have visited on this day

16 Feb 1917 Several coats have been missed during the last 10 days. It has been reported to the clerk and the police have been notified with a description of the garments.

15 Mar 1917 The detective officer called to say he has been unable to trace any of the lost coats.

13 Jun 1917 An air raid occurred this morning at 11.35. The boys behaved with coolness and self control. As the hostile aircraft made off the master considered the best thing to do was to get the boys distributed and sent them home at 11.40 before the craft returned.

5 Sep 1917 The attendance has been affected today owing to the air raid in the district and over London last night, from 11.25 to 1.59, when the all clear was given.

Censorship was alive and well during WW1.
This was the Stratford Express's account
 of the raids noted in the school log,
 above - dated 8 September 1917.
  So vague as to be useless.

25 Sep 1917 The raid last night has kept several away and others are going away.

More vague, uninformative, censored
 coverage in the Stratford Express
 of 26 September, "covering"
 the raids referred to, above.
11 Jan 1918 Considering the severity of the weather, the difficulties of shopping owing to shortage, the attendance has been good this week - 91.7% It is very difficult to get punctuality as many of the boys are out in search of articles of food before coming to school.

25 Jan 1918 The food queues are proving a great drawback to punctuality and regularity.

29 Jan 1918 Owing to an air raid which lasted on and off for some hours last night, a great many boys are absent today. The warning was given about 8 and the all clear was not sounded till after one o'clock.

31 May 1918 A very interesting letter has been received by the master from an old scholar Mr WJ Matthews ... I have been in the civil service for the last twelve years. As a result of my labours, I have been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

4 Oct 1918 Mr Rowland, student teacher, left today. He has now joined the air force.

18 Oct 1918 The attendance this week has been the lowest since records began, 55.6% This is due to an influenza epidemic that is sweeping many districts (ed: this would have been the 1918 - 1920 flu pandemic, which current estimates suggest killed between 50m and 100m, worldwide - between 3% and 6% of the entire global population.  The total number of people killed in WW1, by comparison, is estimated at 17million - somewhere between a third and a sixth of the deaths from the flu pandemic). Claude King, Standard 3, died on Wednesday.

11 Nov 1918 The armistice was signed this morning at 5 o'clock and fighting ceased at eleven. The school did not meet in the afternoon.

7 Jan 1919 Mr CH Rowland student teacher now discharged from the RAF, resumed work this morning. 


  1. Replies
    1. I would like any information or pictures of the car garage on Romford Rd called I think Bonalock . It was British leyland


We welcome comments to all the items featured on this site. However, we reserve the right to omit offensive comments, and edit the length of comments, for reasons of space.