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Captain A.F.G. Kilby VC,
2nd Battalion South Staffordshire RegimentThe son of Sandford and Alice Kilby of 'East Hayes', Pittville Circus Road, Cheltenham, Arthur Forbes Gordon Kilby was born on 3rd February 1885.
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Private Sidney Godley 'set the standard for the British Tommy' when he took a machine gun from a severely wounded officer and despite shrapnel wounds and a bullet lodged in his skull continued to hold his position alone for two hours against heavy German assault.
When he was ordered to withdraw, Private Godley, then 25, maintained a covering fire until the entire battalion was evacuated, but was eventually overpowered by the enemy and taken as a prisoner of war.
His brave actions defending the Nimy Bridge at Mons on the August 23, 1914 during the first infantry attack of the war earned the Royal Fusiliers soldier the highest decoration in the British Army.
When word got back to King George V about his astonishing bravery, he was recommended the award although army chiefs first thought it would be a posthumous award - until word got back to Britain that Pvt Godley had miraculously survived after being operated on at a German field hospital.
The recommendation by Lieutenant FWA Steele, Royal Fusiliers, states: ‘In the defence of a railway bridge near Nimy, 23rd August 1914, Private Godley of ‘B’ Company showed particular heroism in his management of the machine guns.
‘His Commanding Officer having been severely wounded and each machine gunner in turn shot, Private Godley was called to the firing line on the bridge and under heavy fire he had to remove three dead bodies and proceed to an advanced machine gun position under a sustained enemy fire.
‘He carried on defending the position for two hours after he had received a severe head wound.’
The announcement of the award - given during the first infantry attack of the Great War - was published in the London Gazette on November 25, 1914.
It read: ‘For coolness and gallantry in fighting his machine gun under a hot fire for two hours after he had been wounded at Mons on 23rd August.’
Mr Pepys said: ‘The courage was extraordinary. It would have been very easy for him to sit and obey orders and when the order came to withdraw, to withdraw. He definitely stood up to the plate.’
Sidney Godley was released at the end of the war and moved back to his home in East End of London. He worked at the Tower of London as a volunteer for the rest of his life as a leading member in the Old Contemptibles Association - a group created to ensure the ordeal of the conflict was never forgotten. He died in 1957.
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... during the first infantry attack of the war ...
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