Colonel Herbert Thomas Goodland CBE, DSO, Deputy Controller of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission 1919 -1928

Colonel Herbert Thomas Goodland was a born Tauntonian and this research submitted is from Jenny Wakefield of St. James Church, Taunton. The St. James congregation researched the lives of 100 out of the 102 men on their war memorial.

goodland1In researching the lives of the men on our war memorial we have made considerable use of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) site and been aware of the work of the Commission in establishing the memorials and cemeteries worldwide to give remembrance to those who lost their lives. Rudyard Kipling, who lost a son in the war referred to them as Silent Cities. One of those instrumental in establishing these Silent Cities was born in the parish of St. James, Taunton.

Herbert Thomas Goodland was born in Taunton in 1874, the son of Charles John and Kate Goodland, who lived at 30 Bridge Street. Charles was a coal merchant from a family of coal merchants. (It is very possible that his great grandparents were William and Abigail Goodland from North Petherton, who settled in Taunton and are commemorated in a memorial window in St. James Church, Taunton. The name is still well known in Taunton to all those who walk through Goodlands Garden, behind Debenhams. The Coal Orchard Car Park is another reminder that is was an area where coal was traded. The 1881 census gives information on six of Charles and Kate’s eight children – Charles, Ernest, Herbert, Arthur, Rose and Roger. (Clifford was born in about 1885). Kate appears to be Kate Levy* and if this is the case she and Charles were married in St Pancras London in 1870.

Herbert appears to have been sent away to school and in 1891 is at Hart House School, Truro, Cornwall.

Although his father Charles was born in Taunton, his mother Kate was born in Montreal Canada, which is perhaps why in 1892, at 17, Herbert emigrated to Canada, settling in Manitoba where he took up farming. In the 1901 Canadian Census he is living in Brandon, Manitoba, as a general merchant with his wife, Ethel and assisted by his young brother Roger. Also in the household is their uncle, Albert Levy*. Herbert Goodland appears to have been a determined and resourceful young man. He moved to British Columbia, living in Chilliwack where he became the Manager of the Chilliwack Canning and Preserving Company in 1908, and held business interests with a local real estate agent J. Howe Bent. He became involved in the local community, serving as secretary of the Board of Trade and in 1912 became an Alderman of the city. In 1910 he was involved in the formation of Chilliwack’s “D” Company of the 104th Regiment and held a commission in the local unit until his retirement in 1913 when he subsequently joining Alberta’s 101st Regiment Edmonton Fusiliers.

goodland2When Britain declared war in August 1914, Herbert Goodland was in England and immediately enlisted. The two Canadian units he was associated with had been affiliated pre-war to the Royal Munster Fusiliers of the British Army and he was assigned to that unit’s 6th Battalion stationed at Curragh, Ireland. Herbert Goodland served as a staff officer with the 30th Infantry Brigade of the 10th (Irish) Division in Gallipoli, Salonica, Serbia and Macedonia where he participated in the heavy fighting on the Bulgarian front. Shortly afterwards Goodland contracted paratyphoid and in June 1916 was invalided home. Upon his recovery he was briefly attached to his original battalion until posted to the 16th (Irish) Division, commanding the 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers. With them he served in France during the operations of Messines Ridge in 1917. The 16th Division suffered greatly during the German “Michael” offensive of March 1918 and was withdrawn, returning to England to reform. Herbert Goodland, remained in France and commanded the 5th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment of the 12th (Eastern) Division until June 1919. Wartime honours granted to him included the Distinguished Service Order, the Serbian Order of the White Eagle and on three occasions he was mentioned in despatches.

He was twice married, firstly to Ethel Haill Hawkins in 1900 who died in 1930, and then to Marjorie Kathleen Ryall with whom he had a daughter, Katherine.
In 1919 Herbert Goodland was appointed to the CWGC as deputy controller. While there he became friendly with Rudyard Kipling, also working for the commission. Goodland’s initial responsibilities, with the Commission, were the organization of 166 military cemeteries located in France and Belgium. The work involved the relocation of remains from battlefield cemeteries, the supervision of artisans, carpenters, stone masons, memorial designers and sculptors. That he was a resourceful energetic administrator is testified to in a mention in the Unending Vigil, the History of the CWGC. The CWGC was expanding rapidly and it was difficult to keep pace with developments & the need for new buildings. Sheds arrived but with no roofs.

This was but one typical instance of a host of problems … due to the Army’s hasty departure and the rapid build-up of a new organisation in the field. Solutions had to be found quickly & without reference to London. … Thus, when cover was needed for the growing fleet of cars and lorries the Canadian Colonel Goodland, who was in charge of operations, discovered that the owner of the chateau had a brother-in-law who owned a garage and workshop nearby and agreed to rent it.

At the time of his retirement, in 1928, Goodland’s responsibilities rose to some 3,000 cemeteries indicative of the monumental loss of life during the First World War. His abilities as an efficient administrator was in great demand as the task of managing, at one point over, 2,000 employees and their families as the work of constructing the cemeteries was carried out. Herbert Goodland travelled extensively as part of his role, as more and more bodies were discovered and needed, if possible, identification and re-burial, a poignant and sobering task.

On his retirement in 1928, Herbert was he was made a Companion of the British Empire and the French awarded him the Medaille de Reconnaissance and the Gold Medal of the Souvenir Francais. He returned to British Columbia choosing to live in Victoria where he served in the legislature as the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms, and became President of the Canadian Club and the United Services Institute. He maintained his lifelong involvement with the Free Masons and Rotarians. He died on August 13th 1956.

There is a tiny community of about 90 people in Manitoba, called Goodlands which apparently is named after the two brothers, Herbert and Roger.

Information obtained from:
The Chilliwack Museum and archives site:,, The Unending Vigil: A History of the CWGC : Phillip Longworth.



About the Author:

This Taunton WW1 borough wide project has been bought to the community by Creative Innovation Centre CIC, Taunton (also known as CICCIC). With support from Heritage Lottery Fund and many other partners we are proud to work with all in the community to produce this website and other project related activities.


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