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Wincanton’s First Casualties of WWI – Tony Goddard’s History Society Talk

Wednesday 11 June 2014, 14:28
By John Baxter

Battlefield mementos

In a well-attended talk in the Memorial Hall on the 29th of May, Tony Goddard concentrated on what was known of the first three World War One casualties from our area.

When war was declared Captain Frederick Liebert had already left the army and was involved with managing Wincanton Racecourse. He was a keen horseman, Master of the local Hunt and was well known in the area. He had served in India, so when war came he was called up as a reserve officer and died in 1914 in one of the first battles.

The other two early casualties, Charlie Lodge and Charlie Alner were both already professional soldiers when the war broke out and so were quickly shipped out to Europe. All three took part in the first battles when the German army over-ran Belgium, and with overwhelming numbers attacked France. There they faced a small, professional British Army who fought valiantly and skilfully, but suffered heavy losses and were forced to retreat. It was in these battles our three men died. In fact Tony pointed out there were 87 from Wincanton who served in the first battles.

Shell casings

Tony illustrated his talk with fascinating and sobering photographs, showing troops drawn up by Wincanton Station ready to embark on a war they thought would be "over by Christmas" but which was to drag on for four years. He also laid out a selection of battle-field mementos, shell casings and shards of shrapnel. These grim reminders brought the reality of the war home to us as we sat marvelling at what our great grandparents had gone through and how many had never returned.

Tony is devoted to his subject and is in the middle of a book on Wincanton's casualties and survivors; his passion and knowledge of his subject shone through. We look forward to reading it when it comes out as he hopes, later this year.

Tony Goddard


Posts: 1
'Lest we forget'
Reply #1 on : Wed June 11, 2014, 18:30:54
Wincanton may be just another small market town located in-between where you came from to where you are going but like thousands of other hamlets, villages, towns and cities it paid a heavy price in protecting what we enjoy today. 100 years on it can be easy to walk past a War Memorial and just see a list of names and think no more but they are 'not just names', they are men from our town who gave thier lives 'for our tomorrow'. Tony Goddard has taken on the very difficult task of ensuring that 'those names', become so much more, we can now see their faces, know where they lived and never forget the details of how they made the ultimate sacrifice. The talk was captivating, emotional and so very important.

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