"The trench was a horrible sight. The dead were stretched out on one side, one on top of each other six feet high. I thought at the time I should never get the peculiar disgusting smell of the vapour of warm human blood heated by the sun out of my nostrils. I would rather have smelt gas a hundred times. I can never describe that faint sickening, horrible smell which several times nearly knocked me up altogether."
Captain Leeham on the First day of the Somme - 'Tommy Goes to War'
EDOUARD HERBERT ALLAN GOSS
The Riverhead memorial bears the initials and name E N A Goss. This is an error. It should read E H A Goss - Edouard Herbert Allan Goss.
His Mother was called Marie Leonie and had been born on the French colony Isle of Bourbon. His Father, Louis Allan Goss, was born in Bristol and at one stage worked for the Bombay Trading Company in Rangoon where Edouard was born. He had a sister Marie and brothers John, Cecil and Clement. He was at school in Clifton, Bristol between 1889 and 1895. His parents moved, at some stage to Sevenoaks.
Edouard Goss enlisted on 17th November 1914 - again part of Kitchener's "New Army". He landed in France on 10th October 1915.
At the start of the war he was farming at Fig Street farm in Riverhead. On joining up he passed this to a manager and thereafter stationed himself at the Royal Oak Hotel in Sevenoaks when on leave.
On 1st July 1916 he was engaged in the opening day of the Battle of the Somme and was one of the 19,240 soldiers of the British Army killed that day. More than 30,000 others were wounded.
There is a detailed description of the specific assault in which he was engaged as a member of 'B' Company 7th the Buffs (East Kent Regiment). It records the manner of his death (though no-one would know from the tone or content that Captain Kenchington and Edouard Goss were very close friends).
"REPORT BY CAPTAIN A.G. KENCHINGTON "B COMPANY"
OPERATIONS OF 1st July 1916
1. TWO PLATOONS DETAILED TO TAKE CRATER AREA
Before "Y" day I had collected and stored in No 10 sap necessary bombs and apparatus. I had put notice-boards directing runners to this point at the end of all saps trenches in the crater area.
At Zero the three sections of each platoon advanced as arranged round to flanks and the other two sections with snipers went over the craters which were very muddy.
The left hand party entered the enemy trenches with only one casualty, the platoon commander Lieut E.H.A.Goss who was killed instantly by a shell."
The task of informing Edouard's (Edouard was clearly referred to by his third name, Allan) family of his death fell to Captain Kenchington who typed the following letter to Edouard's father, from the freshly captured German trench:
His friend Captain Kenchington was wounded on the opening day of the Somme - but returned to duty. He appears to have survived the remainder of the war.
Edouard was buried in a crater on the Carnoy-Montauban Road. In 1920 his parents, who had moved to Cambridge, were informed that his remains had been exhumed and reburied in Dantzig Alley British Cemetery. He is commemorated on the Riverhead Memorial, the Vine memorial in Sevenoaks and in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Rangoon, Burma.
MEMORIAL PLAQUE - CATHEDRAL OF THE HOLY TRINITY, RANGOON, BURMA