Faringdon Advertiser 18 May 1918

Report in the Faringdon Advertiser 18 May 1918 regarding the death of Alfred Edmund Godsal

Official sanction has now been given to the publication of the names of the gallant officers who were in charge of the Vindictive in the hazardous operations at Ostend on Friday morning last week. Commander A. E. Godsal was in command of the old cruiser, and with Lieutenant Sir John Alleyne and Lieutenant Crutchley stationed himself at the upper steering position.

When the vessel was approaching the harbour mouth the fire from the shore was so heavy that the three officers took shelter in the conning-tower. After swinging the ship into the channel and ramming her stern against the eastern pier, Commander Godsal left the protection of the conning-tower and went outside in order the better to see the position of the vessel. A shell burst outside the conning-tower, and, it is believed , killed the gallant officer.

The command then devolved upon Lieutenant Crutchley, who, after ascertaining that the Vindictive would not turn any further, cleared the engine-room and stoke-hole and blew the charges. The crew jumped into two motor-boats - 254 (Lieutenant Drummond, R.N.V.R.) and 276 (Lieutenant Bourke, R.N.V.R.) - which had gallantly stood by to rescue the men. One of the motor-boats, with Lieutenant Crutchley, Engineer-Commander W. A. Bury, and thirty-eight men of the Vindictive, was sighted by Admiral Keyes' flagship Warwick, which took the party on board. Motor-launch 276 brought off Lieutenant Sir John Alleyne and two ratings. Two other motor-launches - 383 (Lieutenant-Commander Hoare) and 128 (Lieutenant Saunders, R.N.V.R.) - were also detailed for rescue work, and searched the shores carefully under heavy fire.

Engineer-Commander Bury was on the Vindictive in the Zeebrugge attack, and Lieutenant Crutchley and Sub-Lieutenant A. H. Maclachlan were aboard the Brilliant on that occasion. Lieutenant Maclachlan is missing, and is believed to have fallen in Friday's operations.

A supplementary account of the enterprise has been given in a report supplied by the Admiralty and dated from Dunkirk. This account says:

There was no preliminary bombardment of the harbour and the batteries, as before the previous attempt: that was to be the first element in the surprise. The Vindictive, having found the flagship's light-buoy that was to be her guide, bore up for where a coastal motor-boat, commanded by Lieutenant William R. Slayter, R.N., was waiting by a calcium flare upon the old position of the Stroom Bank buoy. Four minutes before she arrived there, and fifteen minutes only before she was due at the harbour mouth, the signal for the guns to open was given.

Two motor-boats, under Lieutenant Darrel Reid, R.N.R., and Lieutenant Albert L. Poland, R.N., dashed in towards the ends of the high wooden piers and torpedoed them, the monitors opened fire, the aeroplanes dropped the first bombs, and upon the warning of the explosions the enemy guns came into action.

The uproar and blaze of conflict was now tremendous, and through it all the old Vindictive walked the lighted waters towards the entrance. It was then that those on the destroyers became aware that a sea fog had come on. The destroyers had to turn on their lights and use their syrens to keep in touch with each other; the air attack was suspended, and the Vindictive, with some distance yet to go, found herself in gross darkness.

There were motor-boats to either side of her escorting her to the entrance, and these were supplied with what are called Dover flares - enormous lights capable of illuminating square miles of sea at once. A Verey pistol was fired as a signal to light these, but the fog and smoke together were too dense for even the flares. The Vindictive there[fore] put her helm over and started to cruise to find the entrance. Twice she must have passed across it, and at her third turn, upon reaching the position at which she had first lost her way, there came a rift in the mist and she saw the entrance clear, the piers to either side and the opening dead ahead. The inevitable motor-boat dashed up (No.22, commanded by Acting-Lieutenant Guy L. Cockburn, R. N. ), raced on into the opening under a heavy and momentarily growing fire, and planted a flare on the water between the piers. The Vindictive steamed over it. She was hit every few seconds after she entered."

Faringdon Advertiser 18 May 1918

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