Augustus William Goldsworthy (Gus) was born in Monmouth in 1886. Little is recorded about his early life apart from him having attended Wycliffe breakaway Methodist School in Gloucester. His family were well known in Monmouth and Newport, holding prominent positions in both industry and local government. The family were also very active members of the Wesleyan Methodist movement in South Wales. Upon completing his education, Gus qualified as a Barrister and was a member of the profession until he enlisted with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force (CEF) on 25th September 1914. His reasons for choosing to volunteer with the CEF as opposed to one of the local British Army units are not recorded, although by the end of the war in 1918 at least 50% of the CEF consisted of British-born men.
The diary itself gives details of Goldsworthy’s movements during the opening years of the War. His early entries, relating to the initial months of the War, give brief details of his postings between the UK and Europe. The period commencing May 1915 makes reference to the fighting in Ypres Salient at the battle of Festubert, where Canadian divisions were prominent. It was during the fighting in the Salient that the first use of gas was employed by the German Army. An indication of the appalling conditions in Flanders can be seen in Goldsworthy’s entries for May and June 1915:
22 May1915: Proceeded to trenches at Festubert, rained all night devil of a fatigue carrying bombs to front line, slept on a manure heap by mistake.
23 June 1915: Proceeded to Estaires slept in a field two days there, marched to Ploegsteert [known to the Tommies as Plugstree]. Got into position at Rotten Row. Devil of a march 15 miles ended up carrying two rifles…
It was common for British soldiers to give names associated with home for the different trenches on the battlefields. In this section of the front, trenches were known as Hyde Park Corner, The Strand and many other well known sites in London, showing a strong connection with the city.
An entry during November 1915 gives detail of Goldsworthy’s transfer to the 1st Monmouthshire regiment. The entries for January 1916 describe retuning to France and departing for Egypt and the Suez Canal:
21 January 1916: Landed at Alexandria stayed at Winter Palace…joined sporting club played tennis- no parades…
28 January 1916: Battalion sailed for France
29 January 1916: I proceeded to France with details.
The reasons for such a short, one week trip to the Middle East are not known, as no details are given in the diary.
The final entries of the diary describe returning to France in February 1916. There are no further entries in the diary, and no additional details amongst our records at Glamorgan Archives. However, from military records we know that Gus Goldsworthy survived the war. He was seriously wounded, and was awarded the Military Cross, but lived until 1950 and died in Vaynor, Breconshire.
John Arnold, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer