Whitwell: Forgotten soldier Samuel Godley remembered as bi-centenary of Battle of Waterloo looms

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The son of a humble Whitwell shoemaker who went on to become one of history’s true heroes at the Battle of Waterloo has been remembered 200 years on.

A commemorative wreath from The British Legion and Whitwell History Society was laid at the North London resting place of Samuel Godley by Hodthorpe-born man David Yaw last week.

Despite the fact the bi-centenary of the famous battle is fast approaching, Samuel’s story is not known to many Whitwell residents.

He was born to a simple home in the village in 1778, but later found himself in the centre of the action of the famous battle after enlisting in the army where the joined the 2nd Lifeguards.

My Yaw, who has been researching Samuel’s story with the help of local historical records, said: “It is understood that after Samuel’s horse was shot from under him, he was struck on the head by a French Cuirassier who fractured his skull. Despite this, Samuel fought on - eventually overcoming his adversary and re-mounting on the latter’s horse.”

“They say Whitwell folk are hard-headed- but his is surely an extreme example!”

Samuel survived his wounds and lived out the rest of his life in London where he found employment in a bazaar in Baker Street, supplemented by his army pension of one shilling a day.

When he died in 1832, non-commissioned officers of the Lifeguards placed a memorial stone in St John’s Church graveyard in North London, which still stands today despite the fact the graveyard has since been de-consecrated.

Mr Yaw has been working with organisations in Whitwell and the surrounding areas to ensure that Whitwell’s Waterloo hero will be remembered at the bi-centenary.

The Whitwell Branch of the British Legion will place a wreath on the War Memorial in Whitwell Square, and Samuel will be remembered in prayers at Whitwell’s St Lawrence Church. Framed replicas of his army service record with the Lifeguards are also on display at Whitwell Community Centre.