GODSELL , Amos William
(Service number 1/279)

First Rank (1) Private; (2) Lance Corporal Last Rank Private


Date 3 December 1896 Place of Birth Auckland

Enlistment Information

Date (1) 9 August 1914. (2) 1 June 1916. Age (1) 17 years 8 months; (2) 19 years 6 months
Address at Enlistment (1) 210 Tinakori Road, Wellington. (2) Deputy Chief Censor's Office, Wellington
Occupation Clerk
Previous Military Experience Senior Cadets - 3 years. 5th Regiment (still serving at time of enlistment)
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin (10 Miss C. M. GODSELL, care of Mr McKEOWN, 16 Pitarua Street, Wellington; (2) Mrs Katherine McKEOWEN (sister), 50 Ohiro Road, Wellington, or c/o J. P. McKEOWEN, c/o Mechanical Eng. Office Railways, Wellington
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information (1) Height 5 feet 8½ inches. Weight 10 stone 8 lbs. Chest measurement 34-37¾ inches. Complexion light. Eyes grey. Hair dark. Sight & hearing both good. Limbs and chest well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids and inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No distinctive marks or marks indicatiing congenital peculiarities or previous disease. (2) Height 5 feet 10 inches. Weight 146 lbs (10 stone 6 lbs). Chest measurement 34-36 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair brown. Sight - eyes both 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs and chest well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids and inveterate or contagious skin disease. No vaccination mark (vaccinated Sep 1916). Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation (1) Samoan Advance Party; (2) New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship (1) 5th (Wellington) Regiment; (2) 17th Reinforcements Wellington Infantry Battalion, B Company
Date (1) 15 August 1914; (2) 27 September 1916
Transport (1) Monowai; (2) Pakeha
Embarked From (1) Wellington; (2) Wellington Destination (1) Apia, Samoa; (2) Devonport, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Wellington Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Samoan Advance; Western European
Service Medals 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards Samoa - 8 months

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 15 April 1915 Reason At his own request (only 18 years of age).

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


Date 7 June 1917 Age 20 years
Place of Death France (in the Field)
Cause Killed in action
Memorial or Cemetery Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Amos William Godsell was the youngest son of John and Margaret Eleanor (née Meagher) Godsell, of Kakahu, South Canterbury. He was born on 3 December 1896, not 3 December 1893 as stated in 1914 on his Attestation form. He was educated at Roman Catholic convent schools and Onehunga High School. Amos’ father died of injuries from a kick from a horse in July 1897, when Amos was just an infant. John Godsell, born in Tipperary of a Welsh father, had left Ireland for the colonies at the age of 18 and eventually settled in New Zealand in about 1861, firstly in Auckland, then in Canterbury. While at Kakahu, he was a representative on the Geraldine Road Board. For some time he ran two farms – one at Kakahu and a larger one in the Hakataramea Valley, and employed a large number of labourers. After drought affected his grain crops, Mr Godsell returned to Auckland with his wife and young family. Amos’ sister Elizabeth, a kind, gentle and sweet religious sister by the name of Sister Mary Vianney, a teacher of music, died of pneumonia and heart failure in February 1914 at Nelson, aged just 27 years.

Masters Godsell and others presented a sketch in August 1909 at a very successful concert in St Mary’s Hall, Onehunga, in aid of the funds of the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy. In August 1911 Amos was one of the members of the Onehunga Dramatic Club who gave an admirable performance of the amusing comedy "The Strategist" at All Saints' schoolroom in aid of school funds. Some of his schooling was in the hands of the Marist Brothers, Wellington. He met with scholastic success, gaining a senior free place in secondary school and earning a Class A pass in Arithmetic at the Wellington Technical School in December 1912. Two months later he was successful in the Civil Service examinations.

On 12 August 1914 per the “Monowai”, aged 17 years 8 months, A. W. Godsell embarked with the Advance Guard, in "B" Company, arriving at Apia, Samoa on 29 August. His nominated next-of-kin was his Miss C. M. Godsell - his sister Catherine. Amos was on active service in Samoa, with the Samoan Advance, for 8 months (15 August 1914 - 14 April 1915). It was reported that the discipline of the troops on their return trip from Samoa was excellent. They were given a hearty welcome home by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the Chief of the General Staff and other dignitaries, a large number of spectators and crowds of relatives and friends. In his address, the Prime Minister said that although they had not had an opportunity to use the rifle and put into practical use the training they had received, they could have the satisfaction of knowing that they had rendered good service to the Empire and New Zealand and to the British in the Pacific. The Minister of Defence reminded those who were engaging in further service that it would be work of a more serious nature, but that it would carry honour and glory with it. They would require more training, so that when they got to the front they would be equally well disciplined and trained as the soldiers of Great Britain.

On 15 April 1915 Amos was discharged at his own request. At this time he was considered to be of very good character. He was not eligible to enlist for further active service being only 18 years of age. Back in Wellington he assisted at the 1915 Boxing Day picnic at Karori Park in aid of the Catholic education fund. In early 1916 he was elected as a Warden to the St Patrick's (Wellington) Branch of the Hibernian Society. In March he represented the Marist Old Boys’ Association at the Hibernian Society 8am Mass, annual communion and breakfast. While residing in Wellington, he identified himself with every Roman Catholic movement. The following month, employed as a clerk in the Deputy Chief Censor’s Office in Wellington, he responded to the Call to Arms, was passed medically fit, and in June, still not twenty years old, he went into camp for the 17th Infantry Reinforcements. His resignation from the executive of the Marist Brothers’ Old Boys’ Association, Wellington, was regretted and his place taken by J. P. McKeowen. This time his sister Catherine, now Mrs McKeowen, was again next-of-kin.

In July 1916 he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. While at Featherston and just before embarking on 27 September 1916, he was appointed temporarily to be Corporal. On 7 January 1917 he marched out of Sling for France where he joined his Battalion of the Wellington Infantry Regiment at Etaples in February. At this time he relinquished his rank as Lance Corporal.

Just one year after re-enlisting and only 20 years old, Amos was killed in action at Messines. He was killed by shrapnel, on 7 June 1917, whilst carrying ammunition to the front lines, death being instantaneous. He had been in good physical shape, even his teeth were good. News of his death was received by Mrs Bolland, Onehunga soon after.

His medals (1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal) were sent to his legatee, Mrs Mary Boland, Princess St, Onehunga, his executor Mr J. P. McKeown (McKeowen) desiring to have no further action re Medals. Amos had made out a pay book will (no date given), in which he named John Patrick McKeowen as his executor and trustee. He left all his property both real and personal to Mary Boland. His connection to Mrs Mary Boland is not apparent. She was born Mary Moore in Ireland and married there before coming to New Zealand. In 1920 she died, aged 74. His plaque and scroll were sent in 1921 to his surviving brother James, living at Doyleston, Canterbury. His brother John Amos Godsell was also killed in action in 1917 and his brother James Richard Godsell who also served in World War One, was about this time wounded in Palestine. Their mother, Margaret Eleanor Godsell formerly of Hakataramea, Canterbury, died in November 1918, predeceased by a daughter and two sons in the war. The 1918 annual report of the Wellington Marist Brothers Old Boys’ Association conveyed heartfelt sympathy to the relatives of those who had fallen in battle and advised that Masses had been offered for the happy repose of the souls of the deceased. Among the names of those who had been killed in action – all sterling characters greatly endeared to members both during and after school days - were A. Godsell and J. Godsell.

Although the Battle of Messines was a striking success, the New Zealanders paid a heavy price for success – a price paid in the life and future of young Amos. The name of Private Amos William Godsell is inscribed on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial in the Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium.


Cenotaph Database [21 September 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0045472) [27 September 2013]; CWGC [21 September 2013]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [September 2013]; New Zealand Herald, 5 & 6 August 1897, 26 August 1911, 19 January 1912, 8 September 1917, Oamaru Mail, 5 October 1897, New Zealand Tablet, 5 August 1909, 12 February 1914, 6 January 1916, 6 July 1916, 16 November 1916, Evening Post, 7 December 1912, 3 February 1914 [x 2], 15 August 1914, 25 January 1916, 18 April 1916, 1 June 1916, 21 January 1918, The Pukekohe and Waiuku Times, 6 February 1914, Colonist, 18 February 1914, Dominion, 15 April 1915, 13 March 1916, 20 September 1916, Timaru Herald, 21 June 1917, Auckland Star, 26 June 1917, Weekly News, 6 September 1917, Press, 18 September 1917, 15 August 1918, Auckland Star, 21 March 1919 (Papers Past) [26 September 2013; 02 July 2014; 03, 04, 05, 06 & 14 July 2017]

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Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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