Lieut. Ronald Clifford Thomas Goodwin (47456) - Missing Diary of 1940

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Ronald Clifford Thomas Goodwin who was with the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.

Lieutenant R. C. T. Goodwin (1939)

Monday 1st January 1940
The first day of the New Year was a very busy one. Ken Tomkinson and myself were attached to Signals as Chesshire was away. Signals are in a terrible state, mainly because of the draft of South Staffs. We took them up to the Grand Avenue in the morning and practiced exchange and line work. In the afternoon, a practice loading of trucks. Evening, David Goodwin and self went to St. Patricks tearooms and there I cooked bacon and eggs before we (including Jean Vernon and Anne Anslow) went to Hungerford to dance at the Bear. It was a grand party, magnificent R.A.S.C. Band.
Borrowed Wigs’ car, and bumped wing.

Tuesday 2nd January 1940
A great day for all of us as we were inspected as a Brigade by H.M. the King along the Salisbury Road in Savenak Forest. We were all lined up on right of road in close column, officers in front of respective platoons, all raised caps and cheered as he walked by us. We had long and very cold wait before the inspection, as it has been freezing continually for the last 3 days. Afternoon was spent inspecting kit, lasting till nearly 7 p.m.
At 8.0 p.m. I had a little party at the Castle and Ball to eat a brace of pheasants and a woodcock – Wigs, the Watkins, Toobys, Ken Tomkinson, Jean and self. Went very well, though late starting. Jean and I went back to the Tearooms and fell asleep in front of the fire.

Wednesday 3rd January 1940
Very busy morning loading up signal trucks and getting my equipment from ‘D’ Company office. H.Q. Company fell in on the common and were inspected by the Brigadier. I showed him round our P.U. and 15 cwt and he seemed quite satisfied. The C.O. seems very friendly these days. Afternoon nothing doing for a change, so I started writing this at 4.30 p.m., tea with David at St. Patricks.
Only four into Mess as ‘C’ Company sapper was on. Foul meal of soup and meat ball stuffed with onions. Padré is a rotten P.M.C.
Sat and read for a bit then went to bed feeling rather tired.
Ken Tomkinson was appointed Divisional Reception Officer and goes on Saturday.

Thursday 4th January 1940
John Tomkinson tried to clear up deficiencies of H.Q. by sending everyone down to Q.M. stores by 9.0 a.m. Of course they all returned without success.

The above made us late starting for the trenches, as I was in charge of 133 H.Q. men, and had to take them out and fill the trenches we had lived in. Got out in 1¾ hrs – 7 miles – freezing till 3.0 p.m. Rations for lunch and 3 digging parties of 1½ hrs. Ground frozen right through – terribly hard work. The Colonel brought out General Grogan who talked to the men. Managed to get some hot tea sent out for 4.15 p.m. Came back in dark – 1 hr 40 mins marching. Rush to get ready for mess – very good dinner as General Grogan (Colonel of the Worcestershire Regiment) and Honorary Colonel Tomkinson were present. Hon. Col. broke down in his speech – very cheery evening otherwise – batman with accordion.

Grand Avenue (1940)

Capt. John Tomkinson

Bear Inn, Hungerford

Friday 5th January 1940
The signallers were very late getting up to breakfast so general raspberry all round and promise of charge sheet if late tomorrow. Set them to exchange work and buzzer reading. After lunch deficiency parade at Q.M. stores of issue of battle-dress, boots and greatcoats.
Tea at St. Patricks tearoom, quite fun over mix-up over dates.


Thursday 11th January 1940
The morning I spent with the Signal Platoon and doing odd jobs and after lunch went to ‘D’ Company and gave my 16 Platoon a foot and rifle inspection.

Friday 12th January 1940
Very cold and frosty. Tony Whitaker and self took Company up to the Grand Avenue for kit inspection after a lecture by Terry Viney on expected behaviour of a Platoon commander.
Stayed to see lunches and in afternoon, very little to do.
Tea at St. Patricks and a steak at the Castle and Ball with Jean, Dick and Kitty before going on to dance at the Aylesbury.
Dance was quite good fun but terrific crowd and Jean and I didn’t stay till the end. Air Force Band was quite good.

Saturday 13th January 1940
Wigs took me up to see breakfasts and morning was spent cleaning up billets and packing remaining stores.
After lunch I started on my own kit and had a helluva (hell of a) game getting every thing into my valise, which with my tin trunk, I took to Braemar and trunk to station to be railed home, in a hired car. Feeling very tired, I went to St. Patricks for tea with Jean who was rather depressed about everyone going. Had dinner with her and the Castle and Ball and after we called at the Marlborough Tearooms to see Dick and Kitty. Then an early bed, as it was early rising for both of us the next morning.

Sunday 14th January 1940
Got up at 5.0 a.m. and had to walk up London Road to see Company breakfast as Edward Tooby overslept.
Breakfast at Crown, packed, then off to station as on first train – 8.20 a.m. Jean and Anne came to see me off. Good Journey down to Southampton docks and went aboard the Amsterdam about 11.30 a.m. Found we all had an excellent little cabin each with bed, washbasin etc.
Convoy moved to Portsmouth at 1.0 p.m. and it started to get rather foggy.
Very little to do, so after Company confab Dick Boulter and I (adjoining cabin) went to bet at 8.0 p.m. I woke at 2.0 a.m. but we had not moved as expected because of fog. Had a very comfortable night.
Capt. of ship very particular about no lights being shown. Cigs being sold duty free.

ss Amsterdam troopship sales for France

Monday 15th January 1940
Dick and I got up at 6 a.m., dressed and went round our prospective platoons. Still foggy and sea very calm. Breakfast in the saloon, after seeing men’s meal.
Parade at 10.30 a.m. – inspection including rifles, mess tins and emergency rations, then P.T. which was difficult as my Platoon was on the hatch of the well deck. Convoy moved off shortly after midday when fog had lifted. After lunch, P.T. on foredeck and I took a few photos. Sea still calm, and at 6.30 p.m. dropped anchor outside Le Havre. Speed over was 18 knots. Men very cheerful. Ward has abscess in tooth. At 7.0 p.m. we weighed anchor and came into the harbour, lifting the buttress’s on the key hard three times. After short Company confab we went to bed. I think convoy was of 8 troop ships and 4 destroyers – good journey and very comfortable.

Tuesday 16th January 1940
Reveille was 5.30 a.m. and after seeing men’s breakfast and having had our won on ship, we paraded and marched off ashore.
Arriving at the Maritime American – a colossal mass of new buildings, we took off our kit, the men had a hot meal and the officers went down to the Rest Room, where we fed and changed our money. I took a photo of the “City of Paris” in Le Havre harbour.
1.19 p.m. we went in train to Yvetôt, then detrained. It was frightfully cold and snowing. We march 2 miles and then found we were on the wrong road, came back and went another mile, and were met by R.A.S.C. transport who took the Battalion, in relays, to St. Giles – 9 miles – as there were insufficient trucks. Got to our billets about 8.0 p.m. worn out and very cold.

Wednesday 17th January 1940
Our billets consisted of a small disused house, a loft and a barn – not very good.
We spent the morning cleaning up, and breaking up ice for water. After route march, I was told that as part of an advance party I had to go to Blangy – 50 miles distance – immediately. We finally left at 2.0 p.m. in an 8 cwt and a 15 cwt. Party was George Coventry, Andy, Keith Evers, Pat Monahan and myself and 5 NCO’s. I drove the 15 cwt and was nearly killed by the cold. Arrived at Blangy after dark and luckily met Simon Green there, who took us on to Airaines. The NCO’s were in the back of the 15 cwt – poor devils.
We finally found billets and fed at the Ecu de la France. Found that actually only one officer should have been sent for our job – another ballsup!
(6 of the transport ill with flu.)

Route taken by 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment to Airaines

Thursday 18th January 1940
Did not get up very early and after breakfast went round with M. Blandin the Billetting Officer of Airaines, to fix up billets for transport, who were supposed to arrive today. Heard that they were help up by bad weather – snow and ice – and were coming tomorrow. Current drinks here, seems to be Cognac grog and Pigmante. Found I could make myself fairly well understood by the French people.
At 4.0 p.m. we went to Amiens – 28 km – in P.U. Very little doing there, and after tea at the Hotel de Universe came back. Bought some “hot” magazines at Amiens causing great amusement. After dinner we went to bed, Andy and I in different billet to previous night – very comfortable room, owned by people named Levis.

Friday 19th January 1940
Breakfast at 10.0 a.m, and George and I left in the 15 cwt at 12.0 p.m. to meet transport at Blangy, but ran into the convoy, headed by the C.O.’s staff car about 4 miles out of Blangy.
Turned round and started to lead them back when my bus ran out of petrol. George went on in staff car while I switched over to reserve tank. Back at Airaines was total confusion over billets as they had brought 4 extra officers, but it was sorted out eventually. Brigade had also arrived with the Glosters and 8 Worcs.
Heard we were moving on to Beaumetz tomorrow, and I was stay behind to get a “clear” report on billets.
David slept with Andy and I.

Saturday 20th January 1940
Today was, I think, the worst I have yet experienced in the army. I had to get up at 3.0 a.m. to visit the Guard over the transport, and later the C.O. told me to bring on the “crocked” vehicles, of which there were 10. Having cleared billets, we started about 12.0 p.m., and had our first mishap immediately, tow rope attached to stearing bar, which of course bent. From then on nothing but trouble – frozen radiators and burst, petrol pumps, and worst of all, lack of petrol, which I eventually scrounged, 24 gal from a Tank Regt., and 24 gal from R. Grd at Douai. The roads were solid ice, and we got lost and had to turn convoy (three on tow) in Rôste. Finally arrived at Le Forest at 2.30 a.m., dead beat, and after knocking up the local gendarme, found billets for the night with H.Q. cooks.

Sunday 21st January 1940
Up again at 8.0 a.m., met the C.O. and had breakfast with him, and later heard that the Technical Truck (which we lost in Rôste) had turned up. I spent the morning cleaning myself up and settling into my billet, which was with Tony Whitaker, in a very neat little house in Le Forest. In the afternoon, I went up to ‘D’ Company, which were situated in Rue de Citédubois in empty houses.
The cold was terrific, and it was snowing occasionally.
Went to bed after supper fairly early, but didn’t sleep much, as I was very cold – floor of our room is stone.
I had borrowed a bed from Pat Monahan.


Thursday 25th January 1940
Up at 7.0 a.m. and saw breakfast at ‘D’ Company Parade at 9.0 a.m., with webbing and haversack for Battalion Route march.
Passed starting point at 9.30 a.m., and marched for 9 miles. Conditions were very bad for marching as roads were solid ice, but I got terribly hot after 2 hrs.
We got back at about 12.45 p.m. feeling very tired – I had had rifle of Dukes who fell out early on.
In the afternoon I went with the CQMS in a 15 cwt to draw a Co. rum ration and blanco. Censored a few letters, then went and had a hair cut and shampoo – very good and cheap – 6.50 frs. At 9.0 p.m. I went up to ‘D’ Company to see rum ration and then came back to billet.


Sunday 25th February 1940
George Coventry, Johnny Betts, Sam Ibbotson and myself set off about 1.30 p.m. for Aubencheul-au-Bac from Saméon to attend an Officers Tactical Training Course, run by, Corps and attached to 7th Cheshires.
We travelled in an 8 cwt, and the Batmen and luggage in a 15 cwt.
Arriving at the Château (the Mess) we were then shown to our billets. I was shown to a farmhouse, in the main-street, and found I was sharing a room with another officer of the K.S.L.I., Brook-Smith.
The French family – Cochon by name – had us on show to their friends and relations and drank our health.

Monday 26th February 1940
Started work bright and early at 8.30 a.m. parade in the lecture room. Demonstration Platoon from 7th Cheshires at war strength and loading Platoon trucks.
Quite a good lunch at the Château, then exercise on “Platoon in attack without outside assistance,” followed by a lecture on lessons of the war by Lieut.-Col. Robertson.
The working hrs of the course were as follows – 8.30 a.m. – 12.45 a.m., 2.0 p.m. – 4.0 p.m. and 5.30 pm. – 6.30 pm.
We were rather crowded in the Mess as there were 31 officers. The instructors were – Major Thompson, Chief Instructor, of the …………………, Major Molloy, 2/Dorsets, Major Prattley, Norfolks, and Capt. Carroll.

Tuesday 27th February 1940
Started with a lecture on Artillery support by Capt. Tapp, Staff Officer, very decent fellow.
Platoon in attack with arty support, raining but otherwise quite fun. After lunch, lecture on the Saar by Prattley, then demonstration of Covers and Camouflage using batmen, very well done by Thompson.


Lieut. George Coventry
(10th Earl of Coventry)

Saturday 16th March 1940
The morning was spent on interior economy and as I was Battalion Grd. Officer. I had to go to Heuén Leitard (via Vimy Ridge) to get tickets for the party who were going to a George Formby Concert in the evening. Went I a P.U. Truck with Lea and was terribly rushed for time, but just made it. At the ticket office, met Derek Woodward of the 51st A/Tk. Regt.
Was the only one in for the evening at Mess and went to bed fairly early after orderly duties.

Sunday 17th March 1940
Was rather a slack day, mild but raining. Church parade, with service taken by a new padré, who gave a very fine sermon, using as a parable the building of Liverpool Cathedral – men carving, cutting stones, and wheeling up cement, the latter “was building a Cathedral”. – likened to the boring and tedious and apparently pointless work out here.
I had rather a head in the afternoon, so spent it quietly in my billet. Nothing particular for rest of day.

Monday 18th March 1940
Parade at 8.15 a.m., and we marched out from Agny to Neuville-Vitesse to partake in a Battalion Advance Guard action. Very mild day, and got very hot marching. We, (‘D’ Company) were at the rear of the main Guard, and moved soberly till 3.30 p.m. with a few intermittent halts. At 3.30 p.m. we ate our rations and marched to the tea trucks. Halted by an Estaminet were there was an exceedingly pretty girl watching us – greatly to the amusement of the troops. Back at Agny by 5.30 p.m. – very long and tiring day, 15 miles, which my Platoon stuck well. Conpab. at 6.30 p.m., and the John T and I were in Company Office till 9.10 p.m., preparing for tomorrow.



Thursday 4th April 1940
The Sgt. Major and I did not get up early – 9.30 a.m.

Friday 5th April 1940
In the morning I went with Nigel Parker and Bell-Syers to recce our little range, - the butt being a very convenient high bank and the firing point the other side of the track. It was near Marieux.
Afternoon, Parker gave us a lecture on the Sniping Rifle – P.14 – and that was all for the day.
After dinner I spent an hour writing up notes.

Enfield P.14 Sniping Rifle

Saturday 6th April 1940
After collecting some ammunition we went out to our range, and proceeded to make some targets out of corrugated sheeting. Having done this and painted on some black bulls, we fired at them.
At 100 yards, I had 3” groups with aperture sights and some with telescopic.
A Sgt. Maclean of the Camerons had an amazing group of 2” with aperture, and ½” with tele (telephoto).
After lunch, I went in to Arras with Nigel Parker and Stewart, and bought a pair of French boots, notepaper and novel. Had tea “tout seul” at the Grand Hotel.
The Staff Capt. – David Leslie – came to dinner.

Sunday 7th April 1940
Did not get up till 8.30 a.m. and spent a very lazy day, writing letters.
Lovely morning and afternoon with hot sun.


Thursday 11th April 1940
Passed a quiet morning digging on Section Post and Brigadier came round to see progress made.
1.40 p.m. I was called to Battalion Orderly Room with Pat Monahan and told to report to Orchies – the Mairie – for T.C.P. conbab. Pat and I went in by 15 cwt truck and had a cup of tea first. Got back to Battalion O.R. (Orderly Room) by 7.30 p.m., to find everyone in a flap, and at 2 hours notice to move. Frightful rush from then on, organising T.C.P. Transport all came up from Marchieunes and everything was packed, preparatory to move into Belgium. I had No. 3 Police Motorbike, and did Rumegies-Saméon 6 times, and finally settled back at Saméon at 2.45 a.m., and slept for two hours in my clothes on my bed, and was woken twice for messages coming in.

Friday 12th April 1940
Woke up early – 5.30 a.m. – and rolled out of bed, and after digging out the batman, was able to “wet” my face and hands. Was called to Company Office to answer phone – the Colonel – who blew up not finding an officer ready by phone. Had breakfast in Company Office. Biked to Rumegies, and got soaked in mud running into a ditch.
Pay parade before lunch, and after lunch went to Rumegies again and confab with Sandy Watson who was on same T.C.P.
Went to bed fairly early, - a well organized bed this time and had a good nights rest, with no break.

Saturday 13th April 1940
Was in Company Office censoring letters till 10.0 a.m., when I received message that T.C.P.’s were to report to Landas complete by 11.00 a.m.
Terrific rush to get organised, but managed it, and arrived in Landas at 11.05 hrs in my P.U. truck, with Stickman, driver, Sgt. Breakwell, Walker, and Donovan. Stood about on the green for over an hour, and then got our trucks lined up on the road outside Landas, facing Belgium. Sandy and I had lunch (late) with Anti-Tank Company (Simon Green) and later went and found out our billets and got the men back to them, leaving a guard over the vehicles.

Sunday 14th April 1940
Spent the day settling in and getting organised. Sandy and I went into Rumegies to collect mail and had a drink with ‘B’ Company.
In the afternoon we moved the trucks from yesterdays’ position, back to Landas into the school yard. Much easier for picketing, and only had to have one Don R. (Dispatch Rider) on duty.
The remainder of the day was very peaceful – nothing to do.
Sandy Watson and I have gat a very comfortable little billet and Walkers my batman is sleeping in with us.

Monday 15th April 1940
Rained like hell all morning, so stayed indoors, while John and Pat went into Rumegies to draw rations.
In afternoon, John, Pat and I went to Beuvry hord to the R.E. shower baths, and had a darn good shower.
I purchased a fine .22 Colt Automatic from Nigel Parker, with 750 rounds of amo. Gave him a cheque for £8.10.0. Cleaned it during the evening.
We have surprisingly little to do here, except to keep at short notice to move. We’ve started a little Mess for all T.C.P. officers at a café near the church at Landas, very cheap and good food – 7 frs, 14 frs and 14 frs.

Circular route taken on the 16th April 1940

Tuesday 16th April 1940
Late reveille as nothing doing. Wrote letters in morning. In the afternoon John and I went into Orchies to draw money on motorbikes. John never having ridden one before, it was a bit of a party, starting off with almost a mishap outside the Brigs. office. However, all’s well that end’s well.
Soon after we got back, I was called to Major McDonald (i/c T.C.P.), and told to be prepared for a move (practice). Told this at 4.0 p.m. we were packed up an in position by 5.0 p.m., and at 5.30 moved off on circular route – Aix, Mouchin, Bercu, Orchies, Beuvry hord, Landas, and back soon after six. Quite successful.
Spent peaceful evening with nothing to do. Got compass today.

Wednesday 17th April 1940
Another late reveille. Breakfast at about 9.00 hrs. After breakfast I went into Douai via Orchies on No. 1 Signal m/bike – good run of ½ hour each way. Bought ink and writing paper for John, Sandy and Pat.
In the afternoon John and I went into Orchies to try and get a wireless, but the man hadn’t returned from Lille. Stayed and had a cup of tea.
In the morning at Douai, I bought some scent to send to Sadie.
Just after breakfast I met Basil Dykes and heard about Brigs raspberry re dirty trucks and consequent orders to postpone leave for Tooby, Whitaker, Wakelin, and Basil Dykes, 3 months, 6, 3 and 3 respectively.


Friday 24th May 1940
Still on the road at midnight making our way past Berea towards Seclin, which lies some way south west of Lille. Stopped about 3 miles from Bereu with the Brigadier and tried to find the 5. I. Bd. (5th Infantry Brigade) troop carrying vehicles. Found some, then having sent them to pick up our Brigade. Pushed towards la Bassée.
Traffic in enormous quantities was blocking most of the roads. Passed through la Bassée about 6.30 a.m., which had been heavily bombed, and arrived at our new area north of the canal running between La Bassée and Bélthune, about 8.0 a.m. I personally slept till 3 p.m. then the firing started again – jerry being somewhere south of the canal which our Div was holding. After dark went with Bell-Syers to deliver messages to the Worcs, and Dorsets, Dorsets having had heavy casualties from mortar bombs.

Capt. Basil Dykes

Names mentioned in Diary



Basil Dykes Capt. 

David Basil W. Dykes


Lieut. Richard Leslie Bell-Syers


Lieut. George Pountney P. Chesshire – Signals Officer

David or David G.

2nd Lieut. David George Goodwin (killed 26/05/1940)

David Leslie


Derek Woodward 


Dick or Dick Boulter

2nd Lieut. Richard Henry Boulter

George or George Coventry

Lieut. George William Reginald Victor Coventry (10th Earl of Coventry) – killed 27/5/1940.

Ge. Grogan

General George William St. George Grogan V.C., C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. (Colonel of the Worcestershire Regiment)

Hon. Col. Tomkinson

Colonel Francis Martin Tomkinson, D.S.O., T.D. (Honorary Colonel of the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from July 1929 to December 1952)


Captain John Whitaker Tomkinson (‘D’ Company Commanding Officer)

Johnny Betts

Lieut. John Francis Betts (wounded and taken prisoner 26/5/1940)

Keith Evers

Lieut. Ralph H. Keith Evers

Ken T. or Ken

Lieut. Kenneth Ronald G. Tomkinson

M. Blandin


Major McDonald 


Nigel Parker 


Pat Monahan or Pat

2nd Lieut. Patrick Charles Watson Monahan (killed 26/5/1940)

Sam Ibbotson

2nd Lieut. Samuel Frank Ibbetson (killed 26/5/1940)

Sandy or Sandy Watson

Lieut. R. S. H. Watson

Simon Green

2nd Lieut. Simon M. Green – Anti-Tank Platoon (wounded, taken prisoner 28/5/1940)


2nd Lieut. Stewart Edward Johnson

Terry Viney

Captain H. T. Viney

Tooby or Ed. Tooby

Captain Edward Reed Ward Tooby


Private Walker – batman to Lieut. R. C. T. Goodwin


2nd Lieut. Eric Noel Wakelin

Wigs or Tony Whitaker

Lieut. Charles M. A. Whitaker (taken prisoner of war)


Abbreviations and words used in original hand written Diary


2nd Battalion Dorset Regiment

5. I. Bd.

5th Infantry Brigade






Village of Blangy-sur_Bresle (France)


refers to the Bear Inn in the village of Hungerford.

Beuvry hord

Village of Beuvry-la-Forét (France)


Brigade – The 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment was part of the 5th Brigade commanded by Brigadier G. I. Gartlan. This Brigade included 3 Infantry Battalions of 7th Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment, 2nd Battalion The Dorsetshire Regiment and 1st Battatlion The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.







Castle and Ball

The Castle & Ball, High Street, Marlborough, Wiltshire. This is a English Country Public House, Restaurant and Hotel.




Commanding officer

Col. or Coln







Company Quartermaster Sergeant


Division or Divisional 

Don. R. 

Dispatch Rider


reinforcement of extra soldiers.




refers to setting up a field telephone exchange.







Grand Avenue

Entrance to Savernake Forest, located between Marlborough and Hungerford.



Hon. Col.

Honorary Colonel


His Majesty (King George VI).






refers to Jean Vernon.


in command


Kings Shropshire Light Infantry

Line Work

refers to laying down telephone lines for communication during action.






Non-commission officer


Norfolk Regiment


Orderly Room


Lee Enfield Sniping Rifle




President of Mess Committee


Physical Training


Pick-up truck




Royal Army Service Corps.






Royal Engineers



R. Grd.


Savenak Forest

correct spelling is Savernake Forest, located between Marlborough and Hungerford in the English county of Wiltshire, is privately owned by the Trustees of Savernake Estate, the Earl of Cardigan and his family solicitor.




Signals Platoon responsible for telephone and wireless communication.

S. Staffs

South Staffordshire Regiment.


Troop Carrying Personnel

“Tout seul”

Meaning “on my own” (French)


is the nickname of Lieut. Tony Whitaker one of his fellow officer friend.


Worcestershire Regiment

8 Worcs.

8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment