JAMES/WALTER JOHN GOODING 1889-1917
James Gooding had a dual personality. From his birth in 1889 he lived in Meare, Pedwell, and Ashcott as ‘James’. He is remembered on the Ashcott Church Memorial plaque as ‘James’, and he emigrated to Canada in 1913 as ‘James’.
Once in Canada he reverted to his given names on his birth certificate ‘Walter John’ and this was his identity for the remainder of his life until his death with the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force in 1917.
Initial enquiries had failed to find a ‘James Gooding’ in the CWGC records who matched the age and date of death criteria. Discussions with the Ware family in Pedwell, however, revealed a Canadian link to James. Research into the Canadian military archives showed a ‘Walter John Gooding’ enlisting in the Canadian Army in May 1916 and referring to his next of kin as his mother ‘Annie’ living at Hill Farm, Pedwell.
The explanation is probably that at the point of emigrating ‘James’ had to produce documentary evidence of identity such as a birth certificate.
Walter John Gooding was born on 21 February 1889 to Mary Virginia Gooding at the Ring O’ Bells Inn, Meare. The birth certificate did not refer to a father’s name. His mother was usually referred to as ‘Annie’ as shown on the 1891 Census for Meare, and again on Walter’s Canadian enlistment document.
In 1893 Mary Virginia Gooding married Thomas Clark Ware.
When Walter was enrolled in Ashcott School on 5 March 1895 his father is Thomas Ware – ‘step-father’. Walter left school on 4 March 1900. The School records always refer to ‘James’.
Between 1893 and the 1911 Census Mary and Thomas had five children – Mary Anni b. 1895, Dorothy b. 1897, Thomas Clark b. 1898, Charles b. 1899 and Ellen Amy b. 1907. There was another daughter Elizabeth. By 1911 James/Walter was working for his step-father as a ‘bailiff’ on the farm.
On 2 April 1913 a James Gooding a ’farmer’ aged 22 sailed on the ss Royal Edward from Bristol to Halifax, Canada along with another 1167 emigrants.
On 27 May 1916, Walter John Gooding of Brampton, Ontario enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force giving his place of birth as ‘Pedwell Somersetshire Eng.’ and his next of kin as ‘Annie mother’ living at ‘Hill Farm, Pedwell near Bridgwater Somerset Eng.’
In August 1917 the Canadian Corps was charged with occupying Hill 70 near Lens, France mainly as a diversionary tactic to prevent German forces being diverted to strengthen their resources during the Third Battle of Ypres. The battle for Hill 70 started on 15 August and by 25 August had reached a stalemate until the Canadians were withdrawn in October. Neither side achieved any advantage from the three month conflict.
Walter John Gooding died on the opening day of the battle – 15 August 1917, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial near Arras in the Pas de Calais, France.
Attachments – Commonwealth War Graves Commission Certificate
– Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery Details
– Canadian Book of Remembrance World War 1 1917 Page 245
References – Ashcott School Admission Logs
– BMD web site and UK Census 1881-1911
– The Ware family of Pedwell, Somerset
– Doug Mears of British Columbia and Canadian Military Archives
Name: GOODING, WALTER JOHN
Initials: W J
Regiment/Service: Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment)
Unit Text: 75th Bn.
Date of Death: 15/08/1917
Service No: 1024131
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Memorial: VIMY MEMORIAL
In Memory of
Private WALTER JOHN GOODING
1024131, 75th Bn., Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment)
on 15 August 1917
Remembered with honour