Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Service number: 13067
Regiment / Service: York and Lancaster Regiment
Family information: Son of Peter and Sarah Goodair of Leeds Road, Outwood
On 31 August 1914, when employed at Lofthouse Colliery, Alex Goodair joined the army, signing for the duration of the war. Four days later, after a medical at Pontefract, he joined the 8th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. The 8th Battalion, part of Lord Kitchener’s volunteer army, moved to Frensham, then onto Aldershot, part of 70th Brigade, 23rd Division. In 1915, the 8th Battalion was based at Hythe, in Kent and at Bordon. However, on 27th August 1915, the battalion sailed from Folkestone bound for Boulogne, to join the British Expeditionary Force.
On the 11 October the 8th York and Lancs, with 70th Brigade, was transferred to the 8th Division. Two days later, the 8th Division was involved in a subsidiary attack at Bois Grenier, in support of further attacks during the Battle of Loos. The 70th Brigade was to remain with the 8th Division for almost nine months.
On 4 April 1916, the 8th Division moved to the La Boisselle-Thiepval Sector, on the Somme, with the 8th York & Lancs occupying the trenches in front of Authuile Wood. Shortly afterwards, on 30 April, Alec Goodair was slightly wounded by shrapnel, during an artillery bombardment. He soon returned to duty, but on 16 May, he was admitted to hospital suffering from Myalgia. Returning to duty on 26 May, Private Goodair joined his colleagues in preparations for the forthcoming battle.
After a week long artillery bombardment, the infantry assault at the Battle of the Somme began at 07.30 hrs on 1 July 1916. At this time, the 8th York and Lancs attacked towards the village of Orvillers. The leading waves of infantry cleared the German first line and entered the second line. Here, due to the heavy losses inflicted by enemy machine-gun fire, the assault was checked. The 8th York & Lancs was forced to withdraw from the second line and the following day, the battalion was relieved and moved to Dernancourt.
During the assault on the 1 July, the 8th York and Lancs incurred 635 casualties. One of these casualties was Private Alex Goodair, who was initially reported missing, but later confirmed as killed in action. His body was recovered from the battlefield and was buried at the nearby Blighty Valley Cemetery. Blighty Valley was the name given to a deep valley running through Authuile Wood, towards the River Ancre, near the twin communes of Authuile and Aveluy. Over two hundred soldiers, who died on the Somme between July and November 1916, are also buried here. After the war graves were brought in from the nearby battlefield and there are now 1027 burials from the First World War, of which 536 are unidentified.
Alex or Alick Goodair was born on 12 October 1894, the son of Peter and Sarah Goodair of Leeds Road, Outwood. His parents, Peter Goodair and Sarah Field, had married on 31 October 1874, at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood. It was at the same church, on 7 November 1894, that their son Alex was baptised. In April 1907, when living at Leeds Road, Outwood, his mother, Sarah, died at the age of 54 years. His father, Peter Goodair, continued to work as a hewer, at the local coal mine. When old enough, Alex Goodair also found employment at the mine, working underground as a pony driver. On the census of 1911, Alex and his widowed father are shown at the home of his married sister, Hilda Atkinson, at Teasdale’s Buildings, Leeds Road, Outwood.