WWI Stories – Ralph Goode
Anthony McAleer shares the story of Ralph Goode who served in Gallipoli and the Western Front.
Twenty years ago I first came across the war diaries of Ralph Goode. These were extraordinary documents that gave a personal and some emotional account of the day to day life of a stretcher bearer in Egypt, on Gallipoli and throughout the Western Front. I continued to research his story and then this year, with the centenary of his enlistment coming up, I worked with his family and the Mt Evelyn RSL to publish his diaries. We were sponsored by the Casey electorate’s Centenary of Anzac fund and on 16 August 2014, exactly 100 years after he enlisted, Major-General Jeffrey Rosenfeld AM, OBE launched the book in Lilydale.
Ralph Goode enlisted on 16 August 1914, the first man from Lilydale to do so. He was allotted to the 2nd Field Ambulance to serve as a stretcher bearer and he travelled on the SS Wiltshire in the first convoy to Egypt. He was stationed there until he moved to Lemnos Island and then was at the landing at Gallipoli. He saw service at Anzac Cove and Cape Helles and was there at the Battle of Lone Pine. He was Mentioned in Despatches for his work here. After the evacuation, he was sent back to Egypt where his unit was re-organised and then moved to France.
Between 1916 and 1918 he served on the Western Front, experiencing all the horrors and heroism of those campaigns. He was a veteran of Pozieres, Bullecourt, Passchendaele, Ypres and Delville Wood. In 1918 he returned home to Lilydale, married, had a family and took up a business running a drapers store in Lilydale’s Main Street. He also threw himself head first into community work and achieved an extraordinary amount for that township. His family believed his way of coping with what he saw during the war years was to keep himself busy with community work. He was awarded the MBE for his efforts for that community.
Ralph Goode passed away in 1961.
Sunday 25/5/1915 – The fun begins. Landed under fire, our boys routed the Turks out with the bayonet but lost heavily. Have had all the excitement I want. I was hit twice by shrapnel, a scratch on the cheek and a spent one in my clothes. A bullet went through a tin I was filling my water bottle out of. Monday 3/5/1915 – I’ve been through hell and out again. Our chaps took a hill and I think still hold it. Some of the wounds are awful, I saw some of our chaps getting up to the trenches, the Turks had a machine gun trained on them, not a man escaped. We worked fifty-five hours without a spell.
Friday 17/9/1915 – Of the original bearers 108 who landed on the 25th of April, only 30 of us came off last Friday. We had 15 killed and 55 wounded.
Wednesday 23/8/1916 – When we arrived in this part about a month ago there were seventeen of us from Lilydale in the 2nd Brigade, we march out today, not seventeen but two of us, myself and as far as I know George Milne. All the rest are killed, wounded or missing, such is war.
Thursday 5/4/1917 – Fritz has only been out of this village six days, the damage and destruction is cruel, not a building left standing.
Sunday 14/4/1918 – The sights I’ve seen this last few days would melt the heart of a statue.