Its always sad when when hears of the passing of a Suffolk Regiment soldier, but the news that R.Q.M.S. Wilf Goddard had passed away last week was a particular blow.
To me, he was a living link with my grandfather, being one of the last survivors of the 4th Battalion that was captured at Singapore in February 1942.
Unlike my grandad who having recuperated from three and a half years of beatings and malnourishment, and decided that the TA was no longer for him, Wilf decided to re-enlist and became a stalwart member of the Territorial Army in the post war years.
Wilf was born in Leiston in February 1918 and aged twenty-one, he enlisted into 4th Suffolk in April 1939 (as No. 5828219 - my grandfather being 5827215 having joined the previous year).
He was a crack shot in small bore rifles winning numerous medals and cups and somewhere I have photograph of him winning the ‘Pretty Cup’ - given in honour of Major Frank Pretty, who served in 4th Suffolk during the Great War. He was also a keen athlete, participating two years running in the gruelling ‘Nijmegen March’ in Holland. A long March of several hundred miles that had to be completed in certain number of hours.
Wilf’s passing reminds me that now we have but a couple of FEPoWs (Far East Prisoners of War) still left with us and all of those will be close to 100 years old. As another door of Regimental History closes, it’s a painful reminder of all those who have already passed away. I feel however proud, to have met and spoken with so many FEPoWs who like my grandfather, just came home, went back to work and tried to live ‘normal’ lives thereafter.