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Dispatch Rider

Heroes Remember

Our command post dispatch rider, Charlie Nurse got wounded. He had hit some shrapnel, and had to be evacuated. Now I'd always wanted to be a dispatch rider. I always wanted to ride a cycle. I had training in England for that when I was in the automotive section, I was, I went up to a place called Ryhl in Wales, a bunch of us and graduated on to cycles. But there was only so many, you know, dispatch riders. But anyway that's what I wanted to do. When Charlie got wounded, he got evacuated out and I got a call from the command post, "Godden, you got to take over Nurse's bike." I said "Great", I was all set. And that's what I stayed at then, as a dispatch rider for the rest of the war. It was a, I suppose, I don't know what you'd called it a second or third line of communication. Your first lines of communication naturally are your signaller, your wireless and your landline communications from command post to gun position and so on. But you carried dispatches, you carried fire orders and you had to communicate between Headquarters and before, before when you went into a new position, the guns were surveyed in or one thing or another in to the position and the command post officer, I was attached to the command post, I was the command post officer's dispatch rider. And they'd... we wouldn't have any lines of communication made yet to the Headquarters and that, so I'd have to carry dispatches back and forth. Stuff like that you know. Kind of a glorified messenger if you want to, but, you know. They... after a while, after some time, it was a bit rough, and they asked me if I'd like to come off of the bike and go back on the vehicles for awhile, and I said no. I didn't want to, I liked the riding, and I liked to be on my own, sort of thing, which was good. You know, I always enjoyed that. So, I stayed with it until the war ended.

Mr. Godden describes the circumstances that led to his becoming a dispatch rider. As well, he explains the functions/duties of the position.

Tom Godden

Mr. Godden was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in March 1921. At a very young age he moved to Newfoundland. When war broke out Mr. Godden was working with the postal service, and when they would not let him leave for the service he resigned. In 1941, he enlisted in St. John's and became a member of the 166th Newfoundland Field Regiment (a light artillery regiment). He held the position of a dispatch rider for most of the war, serving in Africa and Europe. Mr. Godden witnessed the famous Allied bombing assault on Monte Cassino. After the war, Mr. Godden returned to Newfoundland and went on to have a successful career with Pan-American World Airways.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Tom Godden
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
166th Newfoundland Field Regiment
Dispatch Rider

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