World War One Sergeant's relic found near Hong Kong shipwreck
PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 June 2015
AN ITEM of historic interest which once belonged to a Bleadon man has been discovered more than 5,000 miles away, 101 years after it was lost to the sea.
Historians have been identifying the remains of a vessel which was found in Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.
The ship is believed to have been the HMS Tamar, a Royal Navy depot ship which was built in 1897.
But it was scuttled during World War Two to prevent it falling into the hands of invading Japanese forces.
The only identifiable object found amid the wreckage of the vessel was a small oval brass plate attached to some baggage – and its owner lived in Bleadon.
The plate was owned by Sergeant Edgar Charles Goodman, who was born in Bristol in 1885.
His parents Henry and Julia Ann Goodman were both from Bleadon, and they returned to the village after Edgar’s birth.
Edgar joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry in 1901 when he was 16 years old, though he claimed to be 18.
After a number of postings, he ended up on the HMS Thistle in China.
Based on his service record, it became clear the plate was lost some time in 1914, during World War One, and was only discovered this year near the final resting site of the HMS Tamar.
Stephen Davies, a fellow at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, discovered the plate.
He said: “With the outbreak of war on August 5 Edgar was shifted, along with the crews of 12 other gunboats, to the recommissioned pre-Dreadnought battleship HMS Triumph at the time which was about to take over from the Tamar as the nominal depot ship.
“He took part in the siege of Qingdao in September to November 1914 and then, after the Triumph had been refitted, went with her to the Dardanelles.”
While on board the HMS Triumph during World War One, Edgar would have regularly been in action.
Mr Davies said he was likely to have been captain of a 7.5-inch gun and was on board a Royal Navy ship which had fired and been hit by the most shells of any of the navy’s vessels in the war up to that point.
The Triumph was the lead ship in the invasion force made up of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the Battle Of Gallipoli.
But on May 25, 1915, the ship was torpedoed by a German U-21 boat captained by Kapitänleutnant Otto Hersing, who was known as the ‘destroyer of battleships’ by his compatriots.
The Triumph sank in just 30 minutes. Sergeant Goodman was among the 725 men saved from the vessel, while 55 others lost their lives.
He stayed in the Gallipoli area until March 1916, and returned to Bleadon in 1922.
Edgar was a Home Guard Sergeant during World War Two, while two sons he had with his wife Beth both served.
He lived out the rest of his life in Bleadon until his death in 1959, while his old brass plate remained undiscovered under the mud in Hong Kong until earlier this year.