Private Oscar Leonard Godlee, 9th Australian Field Ambulance, AIF

Posted on 21 April 2021

Oscar Godlee was born in Beltana in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia on the 21st of June 1895. He was the fourth son of Arthur and Eliza Godlee. His father was the local butcher and baker in Beltana but at some point his family moved to Adelaide, and he spent part of his childhood in the suburb of Prospect. Oscar attended the local public school and Adelaide High School.

In 1915 Godlee qualified to begin medical studies at the University of Adelaide but instead decided to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force.

He enlisted in December 1915 and was posted to the 9th Machine Gun Company. After a period of training in Australia and England, he was sent to France to fight on the Western Front.

Godlee arrived in France in late 1916 and, apart from a short period he spent in hospital, there is little record of his experience. His family in Australia was under the impression that for he served as a dispatch carrier before working as a stretcher-bearer for his company, although his records do not confirm this.

On the 6th of June 1917, six months after Private Godlee arrived in France, the 9th Machine Gun Company went into action at Messines. It was supporting the 34th Battalion and on several occasions came under heavy shell-fire.

At some point Private Godlee was wounded and on the 7th of June 1917 he died at the 9th Field Ambulance in Belgium. He was buried in the Pont D’Achelles British Cemetery at Nieppe in France.

Oscar Godlee was one month shy of his 22nd birthday.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial, and also on Adelaide High School Honour Board, Prospect Roll of Honour A-G WWI Board and Prospect St Cuthbert's Church Honour Board.

Dr Meleah Hampton, Historian, Military History Section