Lieutenant General Charles Augustus Goodfellow V.C., C.B., Victoria Cross and Companion – Order of the Bath was born in Essex on 29th November 1836 .
At the height of his military service Charles Goodfellow was Colonel Commandant of the Royal Engineers; in fact he was the third member of his family to be appointed Commandant of the Royal Engineers. His father and grandfather before him had also held the post.
Charles joined the Army in 1855 as an officer of the Royal Bombay Engineers. In 1857-58 he was serving with the Central India Field Force and was present at the siege and capture of Ratghur, the capture of Garrakota and the siege and storm of Jhanzi. The following year he was Assistant Field Engineer with the Okamundel and Kattywar Field Force. As Brigade-Major of the Royal Engineers he served with the Abyssinian Expeditionary Force throughout the Abyssinian Campaign and was mentioned in despatches “for the efficient manner in which he carried on the duties of his appointment”.At the age of 22, Charles Goodfellow was a Lieutenant in the Bombay Engineers, Bengal Army, during the Indian Mutiny, when he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. In addition, he was subsequently awarded both the Abyssinia Medal and the Central India Medal. The London Gazette of 17th April 1863 reported that “Lieutenant Charles Augustus Goodfellow, late of the Bombay Engineers, now of the Royal Engineers received his V.C for gallant conduct at the attack on the Fort of Beyt, on the 6th of October, 1859. On that occasion, a soldier of the 28th Regiment was shot under the walls of the Fort. Lieutenant Goodfellow rushed under the walls, under a sharp fire of matchlocks, and bore off the body of the soldier, who was then dead, but whom he at first supposed to be wounded only”.
Following his transfer to the Royal Engineers Charles Goodfellow went on to serve in the Abyssinian War [Ethiopia] where he was mentioned in despatches as follows: – “Captain Goodfellow, next in seniority, whose services at Zoulla in constructing the pier have already been noticed, was the chief engineer on the highlands, and displayed great intelligence and activity in every duty throughout the operations”. Charles Goodfellow retired from active service in 1896, shortly after settling in Leamington in 1895, where he lived at Avon View, Warwick New Road, ( now simply number 38, Warwick New Road). He was a sporting man and did a great deal of cycling. He became a member of the Tennis Court Club and for 15 years was a member of the committee. Charles was a former Justice of the Peace for Kent, and lost no time in becoming involved in Leamington civic life, carrying out duties such as the laying of the foundation stone to St. Peter’s (New Street) Boys School in Gordon Street on 12th December 1912. He died at the age of 79 on Wednesday 1st September 1915 in a Leamington nursing home following an operation, leaving no immediate family but his widow.
Charles Goodfellow’s funeral was carried out with the fullest possible military honours, given that the country was at war, and few military men were available. His body was received into St. Peter’s Church, Dormer Place on the Friday evening following, where lit by candles, it lay in state overnight at the foot of the sombrely draped sanctuary steps, the coffin covered with the Union Flag . The following morning, mass was celebrated by the Rev. Hamilton Macdonald, Naval Chaplain at Portsmouth, and nephew of the deceased, and the burial service was conducted by the Rev. Canon Barry. As the funeral cortege left the church with the deceased’s hat, sword, belt, and his decorations including his V.C., placed on the coffin, a firing party from Budbrooke Depot saluted and the hearse passed through the troops lined up on each side of Dormer Place. Accompanied by The Mayor, Councillor W. W. Donald, the band, priests and servers, mourners, friends, Brigadier-General Townley, and Colonel Childers, C.B., representing the War Office, and the troops, Charles Goodfellow was buried at Brunswick Street Cemetery, Leamington Spa. A salute of three volleys was fired, followed by the “Last Post,” played by two Royal Engineers buglers.
The qualities shown by the late General Goodfellow when on active service characterised his whole life, for that life was a fine example of an individual living for others. However, his reserve and dislike of publicity were such that his many charitable acts are known only to those who participated in them. He was a most devout Catholic and a splendid, upright soldier, always ready to devote his time and money to good works. As a good Catholic he gave aid to institutions within his faith, but his interest and support was not restricted to Catholic causes, and he would be of service wherever he could, including the Charity Organisation Society, the Royal Midland Counties Home for Incurables and the Waifs and Strays Society to name but a few.
General Goodfellow’s Victoria Cross is located at the Royal Engineers Museum at Chatham.
Allan Jennings & Alan Griffin
I was interested to read your piece on General Goodfellow as he is my wife’s Great, Great Uncle. According to family records and the East India Register he was born on 27th Nov 1836 at Poona in India, not Essex, as is often thought. As Captain Goodfellow, he was married to Miss Mary Agnes Cahill on 12th Dec 1864, in Bombay. In addition to Charles Augustus Goodfellow, his father and grandfather, his brother General William West Goodfellow was also Colonel Commandant of the Engineers. The Rev Hamilton Macdonald who officiated at the funeral mass was the son of his late sister Isabella who married General John Macdonald of the Bombay Army. You might like the attached photograph of a younger CA Goodfellow.