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Private John Goodall, 63rd Regiment

by Bob Barltrop

This article originally appeared in the Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS) in March 2013. It is reproduced here by kind permission of the Society and the Author. 


John Goodall's Crimea Medal

John Goodall’s Crimea Medal (obverse)

John Goodall, along with four others, attested as a private in the 63rd Regiment of Foot at Cheltenham on 17 October 1850. His height was 5ft 2¼ins tall, and he stated that he was 17 years and 9 months old and was a labourer from Shipton Oliffe, Gloucestershire.1 He was allocated the number 2665 and was paid a bounty of £3.10.0 for signing on.

At this time the 63rd was stationed in the Manchester area, at Ashton-Under-Lyne, Burslem, Stockport and Burnley. Pte Goodall was sent to Ashton-Under-Lyne where he joined his regiment on 31 October 1850. The change to army life does not seem to have suited Goodall as he spent some seven weeks in hospital over the next five months.

The 63rd moved to Liverpool on 28 January 1851 and embarked for Dublin the following day, marching from there to Limerick. However, Goodall remained in Ashton-Under-Lyne, only joining his regiment in Limerick in the spring of 1851. His stay here lasted about a year which included three months in nearby Killaloe.

On 6 May 1852 Goodall moved with the rest of the regiment to Dublin, being quartered in the Ship Street Barracks. His health suffered again and he spent most of the next five weeks in hospital. In May 1853 he spent the month at Pigeon House Fort, although by August the whole regiment was concentrated at Richmond Barracks, Dublin.

On 29 August 1853 the 63rd provided the Guard of Honour for Queen Victoria when she landed from the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert, at Queenstown while on her way to the Great Exhibition in Dublin. On 30 September the regiment moved into barracks at Linen Hall, Dublin.

Early in the New Year Goodall again fell sick and spent a further six weeks in hospital. In March 1854 the 63rd was put under orders to prepare for embarkation to the Cape of Good Hope but on 28 March Britain and France agreed to support Turkey and declared war on Russia to try to end the designs that Russia and the Czar had on Constantinople.

Over the next few weeks the 63rd was twice called upon to supply volunteers for those regiments that were already under orders to proceed to the East and the vacancies in the ranks of the 63rd were filled by young inexperienced recruits. In June the 63rd itself was ordered to prepare to join the expeditionary force in the East and on 21 July 1854 the 63rd and Pte Goodall, who was probably not in the best of health, as evidenced by all the time he had spent in hospital since signing on, embarked from Cork for Turkey in the Royal West Indian Mail Steamer Avon. The Avon arrived in Malta on 1 August and in Constantinople six days later.

On 12 August 1854 the 63rd disembarked at Beikos Bay (Scutari), on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorous, but on 31 August they re-embarked and sailed for Varna where they became part of the 2nd Brigade under Brigadier General Torrens, forming part of the 4th Division under Lieutenant General Sir George Cathcart. The 63rd embarked again on the Avon and landed with the allies near Lake Kamishlu in Kalamita Bay in the Crimea on 14 September 1854. The strength of the 63rd at this time was 32 officers, 56 sergeants, 45 corporals, 21 drummers and 914 privates. According to the regimental history:

The men landed without their knapsacks, each soldier carrying just his greatcoat and a blanket rolled into a pack containing 1pair of boots, 1pair of socks, 1shirt, a forage cap, and, in the case of the 63rd Regiment, the men of which were still armed with the old “Brown Bess”, sixty rounds of ball ammunition.2

After five days to allow the British to requisition some transport, the two allies advanced on 19 September with the French on the right, nearer the sea, and the British alongside them. Sebastopol lay some 35 miles south along the coast. On the next day the allied armies encountered the Russian Crimean Army (33,000 infantry, 3,400 cavalry and 28 guns in redoubts) holding the heights across the River Alma. Following an attack by the French on the right flank, the British advanced in their standard attack formation, little changed since Waterloo.

In an hour and a half the battle was won and the enemy was in full retreat. The allies had lost 362 killed and 1,621 wounded while the Russians had lost over 6,000 men. As the 63rd, together with two companies of the 46th and the 4th Light Dragoons, had been detailed to clear the landing beach, they were behind the main armies and their advance to the Alma was further delayed by the fact that they took the wrong route. After a march of some 13 hours, they arrived at the Alma just as the battle was ending.

Lord Lucan wanted to pursue the Russians immediately after the battle but the French refused and the Russian army escaped. So on 21 and 22 September the troops spent their time burying the dead and removing the wounded to the ships. By now cholera had broken out and by the end of September the 63rd had lost 23 men to the disease. On 23 September the allied armies quit their positions above the Alma and moved across the Katscha and passed the Belbec. Here the 4th Division remained, to cover the rear and maintain communications with the fleet.

On 26 September the Army, including the 4th Division, descended into the valley of the Tchernaya, crossed the river at the Traktir Bridge, captured the port of Balaklava and took up their positions on the heights before Sebastopol. The 63rd were on the left of the British line but this position was within range of the Russian guns and the regiment moved back on 5 October, following the death of one of their men from artillery fire. From 9 October infantrymen, instructed by sappers, began digging batteries and entrenchments but the Russian defences grew visibly stronger. Meanwhile the troops existed on a diet of salt beef and biscuits with no fruit or vegetables and very little clean water. Diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera were rife and the weather was getting colder.

The long-awaited bombardment of Sebastopol began early on 17 October and went on for a week, with death and destruction raining down on the city during the day but with all being repaired at night. The Russians also bombarded the British trenches and the 63rd suffered several casualties. Pte Goodall was probably wounded or taken sick around this time as he was not present at the actions at Balaklava on 25 October or Inkermann on 5 November. He was evacuated to the hospital at Scutari from where he was ‘Invalided’ on 25 December 1854 to return to the UK on board the Avon, which departed the Crimea on 30 December 1854.

Due to public concern in the UK about the conditions endured by the troops in the Crimea, the Army reorganised its medical arrangements and formed the Army Hospital Corps, with its first school and hospital being set up at Chatham, Kent. The Avon docked at Chatham on 14 January 1855 but, while many soldiers disembarked, Pte Goodall remained on board the ship which sailed later that day for Liverpool where it arrived two days later. Here John Goodall entered the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary but despite numerous visits by the townspeople of Liverpool and receiving care in the infirmary, he died on 17 February 1855, less than seven months after leaving the UK. He was aged just 22.

John Goodall was buried on 19 February in St James’s Cemetery, Liverpool,4 together with Samuel Spinks of the 38th Regiment and William Evans of the 1st Battalion of Rifles. All three were buried with full military honours in front of a large crowd of mourners. The funeral rites were carried out by The Rev J. Holme and the firing party consisted of a detachment of the Royal Lancashire Artillery. Shortly after the ceremony a subscription, which eventually raised a total of £95 3s 6d, was started for the purpose of raising a monument to the memory of these three, together with four other soldiers who had returned from the Crimea and died in Liverpool’s Workhouse Infirmary at a later date. In December 1856 the obelisk of polished granite was raised at the north end of St James’s Cemetery as a fitting memorial to these seven private soldiers.


Obelisk to the memory of seven British soldiers in St James’s Cemetery, Liverpool

Pte Goodall’s Crimea Medal 1854-56, with clasps ‘ALMA’ and ‘SEBASTOPOL’, was issued to his next of kin in due course.

The following articles appeared later in the Northern Times:

The wounded soldiers in the workhouse.

Three of the soldiers lately returned from the Crimea, have expired. They will be interred at St James’ Cemetery with full Military Honours.

20 February 1855:

Soldiers’ funeral yesterday.

Names of the deceased - Goodall, Spinks and Evans, the two former died of wounds sustained at Crimea, the latter of diarrhoea. The firing party consisted of a detachment of the Royal Lancashire Artillery and the staff establishment under the command of Capt Fryer. There was a large attendance to witness the last of the noble fellows. A sister of Goodall’s came from the South of England to witness the ceremony. The Rev J. Holme performed the funeral rites.

Obelisk to the memory of seven British soldiers in St James's Cemetary Liverpool

19 February 1855:

In the Liverpool Mercury of 24 December 1856 the following appeared:

Monument to the Memory of Crimean Soldiers.

It will be recollected that in the early part of last year a body of invalided soldiers who had served in the Crimean campaign were landed at this port. They were placed in the Workhouse and supplied with everything of which they stood in need. Many of our townsmen also visited them, and public sympathy was largely excited in their behalf. Many of the brave fellows were severely wounded, in several instances the injuries they had received terminated fatally.

The names of those who died here were John Hewston, 20th foot; Samuel Spinks, 38th foot; Lawrence Carney, 47th foot; Thomas Marsden, 47th foot; John Goodall, 63rd foot; John Start, 93rd foot and William Evans, 1st battalion of rifles. As a tribute of respect to their memory, a large number of persons attended the funeral rites. They were buried at St James’s Cemetery with the usual military honours. Shortly afterwards a subscription was entered into for the purpose of raising a monument to their memory. The memorial being completed was a few days ago erected in St James’s Cemetery. It stands on an eminence at the north end, and from its position cannot fail to strike the attention of visitors immediately upon entering the burial ground. The monument consists of an obelisk or shaft of polished Scotch granite. Its design is characterised by simplicity in keeping with the mournful events it is intended to commemorate.

The four sides of the pedestal are of black marble, the one nearest the spectator inscribed: - ‘Erected by public subscription, to record the courage and endurance displayed by the privates of the British army, who at the call of duty devoted their lives to maintain the honour of their country and the fidelity of England to their allies, - Anno Domini 1856’

On the other side of the pedestal is the inscription: - ‘Sacred to the memory of seven British soldiers, who landed in Liverpool from the Crimea, 15th January 1855, and dying here were buried in this cemetery.’

On the third side are recorded the names of the deceased, as above stated.
The remaining side left blank. The artist is Mr A Macdonald, sculptor of Aberdeen.

Other newspapers picked up on, and printed, this story over the next two years. However, the Preston Chronicle of 24 February 1855 reported that Pte Goodall had died of diarrhoea rather than wounds.

In the OMRS winter Journal of 1992 (pp 288-89) N. Rowlinson reported on a very similar obelisk in Williamson Park Cemetery, Lancaster which included the names of some 19 ‘brave soldiers and sailors’ who were ‘natives of Lancaster and the neighbourhood’ and who fell in the Crimea, but I doubt that there are many other memorials in the UK to private soldiers of the Victorian army which have been paid for by public subscription.


  • War Office WO12/7282-7285 Muster Rolls 63rd Regiment
  • War Office WO 12/12353 Muster Roll Chatham Depot
  • War Office WO100/31 Crimea Medal Roll
  • Wylly, CB, Col H.C. (1923): History of the Manchester Regiment (Late the 63rd and 96th Foot). Forster Groom & Co Ltd, London.
  • Link to External Website


  1. The 1841 census indicates that John Goodall was born around 1829, making him about 21 years old in 1850. In 1841 he was living in Shipton Oliffe, which is about 7 miles from Cheltenham.
  2. Wylly, CB, Colonel H.C. (1923): History of the Manchester Regiment (Late the 63rd and 96th Foot). Forster Groom & Co Ltd, London.
  3. No record of Pte Goodall has been found in the official casualty returns.
  4. Liverpool’s Church of England Cathedral was subsequently built in St James’s Cemetery