Godley Road is in Harnham. It’s part of a small group of roads which I believe were built as military accommodation.

The military influence is reflected in the names of the roads. They are named after former General Officer Commanding Southern Command[1]. The official residence of the G.O.C. was Government House, sometimes known as the Cliff, on the other side of Harnham Hill.

The list below gives the names of the G.O.C.s from 1923 until 1939. The highlighted names have roads named after them in the area.

Lieutenant General Sir A J Godley, illustrating Godley Road, Harnham
Image from Wikimedia[3]

Sir Alexander John Godley (1867-1957)

Alexander Godly was born in Gillingham in Kent in 1867[4]..

His first military role was in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers where he served from 1886 until 1893. According to the Dictionary of National Biography he supplemented his income by training polo ponies.

In 1896 he took part in the Mashonaland campaign in what is now Zimbabwe. On returning to Aldershot, he was given the command of two mounted infantry companies.

In 1899, he went on a trip to South Africa to recruit volunteers. He was at Mafeking when the war started.

In 1910, Godley took the position of General Officer Commanding New Zealand forces. It is seen as being due to his organizational abilities that the NZ forces were capble of being integrated with British forces at the start of World War I.

Godley commanded the joint New Zealand and Australian division at Gallipoli. He was blamed by some for ‘Godleys abbatoir’ – the loss of many Australian light horse units. The Dictionary of National Biography says that this ‘was not wholly unjustified, having been earned by Godley’s rigid compliance with orders and his failure to take changed circumstances into account’. The DNB is also critical of his role at Passchendaele Ridge, where Godley did not postpone an attack ‘despite rain and shelling which had created a vast, grotesque mud-bath’[5]‘

After the war, Godley was Winston Churchill’s military secretary and also worked with Field Marshal Haig to set up an officers’ association. He commanded the army of the Rhine from 1922 to 1924, and was then appointed general officer commanding southern command. At this time he was resident at ‘The Cliff’ in Harnham.

General Godley left the army in 1928, and became governor of Gibraltar.

He died in 1957 in Oxford[6].

Further Reading on Amazon

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Footnotes

  1. I may have the title wrong here – I would be very happy to be corrected on this []
  2. ‘The History of Harnham’, published by the Women’s Institute in, I think, 1954 []
  3. George Edmund Butler [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons – File:George Edmund Butler – Lieutenant General Sir A J Godley.jpeg – Wikimedia Commons []
  4. Unless otherwise stated the information here in this section is from: Ray Grover, ‘Godley, Sir Alexander John (1867–1957)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33434, accessed 11 May 2012] []
  5. Ray Grover, ‘Godley, Sir Alexander John (1867–1957)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33434, accessed 11 May 2012] []
  6. Ray Grover, ‘Godley, Sir Alexander John (1867–1957)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33434, accessed 11 May 2012] []

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