Goodson Watch: Whittlesford Sea Scouts

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The following record of the Whittlesford Sea Scouts voyage was published in The Scouter in October 1937.

GSM G L Cockle of Whittlesford Sea Scouts entered a report of the troop’s voyage into the Goodson Watch competitioon for Sea Scouts – and won. The Goodson Watch was a gold watch, a possession of the late Capt Goodson was presented by his sister to the Scout Association. His exploits are recorded below.

The Goodson Trophy

Originally called The Goodson Watch, the competition was set up by the Chief Scout following the presentation of a commemorative watch to the Sea Scouts by Miss Goodson, in memory of her brother Captain Peter Goodson Mercantile Marine. The watch to be awarded to the Group sending in the best log of a journey by water or by land and water performed by Sea Scouts. The watch was awarded each year from 1935 to 1938. In 1938 the 1st Nottingham Sea Scout Group won.

It is not known what happen to the watch but the competition was renamed the Goodson Trophy in 1949 and the watch replaced by a replica ship’s wheel. The competition was held up to 1976.

Captain Goodson of the General Steam Wood-Latimer Navigation Company

From https://seascouts.eu/euronaut/Issue_32

Captain John Goodson, commanding the Balgownie was attacked on November 27th 1915, by three aeroplanes, two large craft and one smaller, close to the North Hinder Lightship. Upon sighting the enemy, Captain Goodson went into the chart-house to fetch his rifle, and before he regained the bridge, one of the aeroplanes opened machine-gun fire, Captain Goodson ordered full speed, and steered a zigzag course, stationed the hands on the deck round the deck-house, ordering them to continue firing distress rockets; and opened fire with his rifle upon the enemy. The three Germans aeroplanes circled over the ship, dropping bombs and keeping up a cross fire from their machine guns, The bombs fell wide of the vessel by about half her length, sending up columns of water, and “where any of the splashes of water fell on the crew of the ship, it dried black from the smoke of the bombs.” For some twenty minutes the hunted ship, heeling over, turned and twisted , amid the crash and smoke of bursting bombs , continually struck by bullets. The Captain was firing steadily on the bridge, one rifle against three machine guns mounted in swiftly moving aeroplanes. Beside him on the bridge were the second mate and the helmsman who was methodically putting the wheel hard over, first to port and them to starboard. The hands on deck were firing the rockets. The engineers and fireman below were piling on a full head of steam, knowing that if the unseen bombs struck the ship their death or mutilation was certain. The Captain counted twenty-three bombs. Then the smaller aeroplane sheared off. The two remaining craft continued a machine-gun fusillade. A bullet struck the grating on which on which stood the man at the wheel; bullets pierced the side-light screen; and three went through the canvas stretched round the bridge. The bullets the Captain deposed, “were hailing in the water alongside the same as you see in heavy of drops of rain on the pavement during a thunderstorm.” The hull and deck were struck, the funnel and steam pipe were pierced, and the pipes on deck were riddled, Not a man was hit. Captain Goodson, who fired fifty rounds considers The effect of his of his shooting was to prevent the Germans from flying low, and thus reduce the accuracy of their fire. Captain Goodson and his crew received the expression of appreciation of their spirited conduct by the Lords Commissions of the Admiralty.

On behalf of the Government War Risk Insurance Scheme, Sir Kenneth S. Anderson, President of the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom, presented Captain Goodson with a cheque, and the Directors of the General Seam Navigation Company voted a sum of 100 guineas for distribution among the crew of the Balgownie. The days of brave old British sea-dogs did not end hundreds of years ago.

JWR Archivist May 2020