Llangollen Advertiser 24 May 1918

Report in the Llangollen Advertiser 24 May 1918 regarding the death of Alfred Edmund Godsal

The Admiralty, on Wednesday, issued an official account of the exploit, in the course of which it was described how Commander Godsal, who was in Command of the "Vindictive" in her hazardous venture to block the fairway of Ostend Harbour, met his death.

The guns found her at once. She was hit every few seconds after she entered, her scarred hull broken afresh in a score of places and her decks and upper works swept. The machine-gun on the end of the western pier had been put out of action by the motorboat's torpedo, but from other machine guns at the inshore ends of the pier, from a position on the front, and from machine-guns apparently firing over the eastern pier, there converged upon her a hail of lead. The after control was demolished by a shell which killed all its occupants, including Sub-Lieutenant Angus H. MacLachlan, who was in command of it. Upper and lower bridges and chart room were swept by bullets, and Commander Godsal, R.N., ordered his officers to go with him to the conning tower. They observed through the observation slit in the steel wall of the conning tower that the eastern pier was breached some 200 yards from its seaward end, and as though at some time a ship had been in collision with it. They saw the front of the town silhouetted again and again in the light of the guns that blazed at them; the night was a patchwork of fire and darkness. Immediately after passing the breach in the pier, Commander Godsal left the conning tower and went out on deck, the better to watch the ship's movements; he chose his position, and called in through the slit of the conning tower his order to starboard the helm. The Vindictive responded; she laid her battered nose to the eastern pier and prepared to swing her 320 ft. length across the channel.

It was at that moment that a shell from the shore batteries struck the conning tower. Lieut. Sir John Alleyne and Lieut. V. A. Crutchley were still within. Commander Godsal was close to the tower outside. Lieut. Alleyne was stunned by the shock. Lieut. Crutchley shouted through the slit to the commander, and, receiving no answer, rang the port engine full speed astern to help in swinging the ship. By this time she was lying at an angle of about 40 deg to the pier, and seemed to be hard and fast, so that it was impossible to bring her further round. After working the engines for some minutes to no effect, Lieut. Crutchley gave an order to clear the engine-room and abandon ship according to the programme previously laid down. Engineer Lieut.-Commander William A. Bury, who was last to leave the engine room, blew the main charges by the switch installed aft; Lieut. Crutchley blew the auxiliary charges in the forward 6 in. magazine from the conning tower. Those on board felt the old ship shrug as the explosive tore the bottom plates and the bulk heads from her; she sank about 6 ft. and lay on the bottom of the channel. Her work was done.

It is to be presumed that Commander Godsal was killed by the shell which struck the conning tower. Lieut. Crutchley, searching the ship before he left her, failed to find the body, or that of Sub-Lieut. MacLachlan, in that wilderness of splintered wood and shattered steel. In the previous attempt to block the port, Commander Godsal had commanded the Brilliant, and, together with all the officers of that ship and of the Sirius had volunteered at once for a further operation.

Commander Alfred Edmund Godsal, R.N., was the fourth son of Major and Mrs. Godsal of Iscoyd Park, Whitchurch. Born in 1884, he was educated at A. J. de Winton's, Slough and from thence passed into H.M.S. Britannia, from which he passed with five firsts, and in the language of the fleet, he was a "five wonner". His first ship was the Hannibal, in which the senior midshipman was the son of Mr. Robinson, of Frankton. Commander Godsal had completed over seventeen years in the navy, and had spent commissions in the West Indies, China and Mediterranean Seas, in the Hogue, Monmouth, and Irresistible respectively, before taking the torpedo course at Portsmouth, and the advanced course of wireless telegraphy at Chatham. While serving in the Monmouth on the China Station he commanded the despatch boat, Kinsha. His chief service was in the Centurion, to which he was appointed as torpedo-lieutenant in November, 1912, and he remained in her after his promotion to commander last midsummer. He left the Centurion to serve under his old captain, now Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keys. He volunteered for service in the attempt made on Zeebrugge, and in Brilliant he was the leader of the Ostend operations, which, through no fault of hi,s were not successful. He came through this trying ordeal with a slight wound, and again volunteering for the second attempt on Ostend, he was given the command of the Vindictive.

The French Croix de Guerre has been conferred on Commander Godsal, and had he lived it is understood he would have been promoted to captain and have had the D.S.O. awarded him."

Llangollen Advertiser 24 May 1918

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