“He loved life with all his heart”

A Windsor hero made the ultimate sacrifice, and the church magazine responded with a heartfelt portrait of the young man behind the record.

Charles James Henry Goodford.

Only a few weeks ago he was here in Windsor. He had come to receive the Military Cross which he had won by an act of splendid heroism. And many of us saw him and rejoiced with him at the honour which had come to himself and to those who loved him. Only a few weeks ago he was kneeling at the altar of All Saints Church on the very morning of his return to France.

And now with a shock we realise that we shall never see him on earth again. He has made the supreme sacrifice; he has heard the call and has responded to it even unto death.

Those who have always known him are not surprised. And all of us who knew him at all remember how at the outbreak of the war he was eager, and anxious, to share in the mighty struggle that lay before this land and empire. Then followed the brief course at Sandhurst, and before we realised that such a thing was possible we heard that he had gone to the Front.

That was eighteen months back- a brief space indeed, but marked with high distinction.

The Military Cross was the symbol of something more than one heroic act. From the first he showed, and he always showed, the ability and the temper of a true soldier. The letters which have come from those who were with him in France are a striking testimony to this. These are the words of a brother officer:

“No one in the regiment is mourned more than he by both officers and men. It is not an empty saying, everybody loved him.”

If this were all it would be more than worth saying. But it is not the whole of the story. Something must be said – and how much might be said – from the point of view of that which matters most of all- character.

He was so thoroughly human. This was seen in his love of his home, his garden, his pursuits and his school. And some of us will never forget the attractive boyishness of the pride with which he opened the case in which it lay and showed us the Military Cross. He loved life with all his heart and longed that, if it were God’s will, he might be spared to come through.

But behind all this was his strong and simple trust in God which bore the fruit of singleness of heart, loyalty of honour and truth, and purity of soul. He had realised the power of prayer in his spiritual life, and the knowledge that we were praying for him, and for others, at home was the joy and inspiration of days of danger and difficulty. He loved to think of us in Church on Sundays and to repeat the hymns which he thought that we perhaps were singing. He was specially helped just before he went into action for the last time by the closing verse of “Christ in Flanders.”-

“Though we forget You, You will not forget us,
But stay with us until this dream is past;
And so we ask for courage, strength and pardon,
Especially, I think, we ask for pardon,
And that You’ll stand beside us at the last.”

And when the strange experience came to him, as it must to us all, it was put to pass into the nearer presence of One Whom he had long since tried to serve and learned to love.

We cannot think of him as dead. We know that he lives and we doubt not that in the great unseen there will be grander, nobler work for him to do.

Our hearts go out to those who loved him most.

We cannot ever tell them how we care, how we sympathise. But we shall never cease to pray that the passing years may bring to them, more and more, the certainty of the abiding presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, a growing realisation of the communion of saints, and the vision of the many mansions wherein, in God’s time, His people shall know that they have not waited nor longed in vain.

Grant unto him, O Lord, eternal rest
And let eternal light shine upon him.

E.M.B.

New Windsor St John the Baptist parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P149/28A/21/5)

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