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Famous names in the First World War

The Rt Hon Clement Richard Attlee MP

The Rt Hon Clement Richard Attlee

The Rt Hon Clement Richard Attlee

(British prime minister, 1945-1951)

The Rt Hon Major Clement Richard Attlee (1883-1967) was born in Putney, south west London. He was educated at Haileybury College and then University College, Oxford, and went on to become a barrister in 1906. Later in 1913 he became a tutor at the London School of Economics. Read more about Clement Attlee

John Buchan MP

(Scottish politician, Diplomat and writer)

John Buchan (1875-1940) was born in Perth, the son of a Free Church of Scotland minister. He was educated at the University of Glasgow and later at Brasenose College, Oxford. Buchan's first book, "Sir Quixote of the Moors" was published in 1896 whilst he was still studying at Brasenose College. During his time at Oxford, Buchan wrote a further four novels, and by the age of 25 he had written and published a total of eight books. Read more about John Buchan

Sir Philip Chetwode

Field Marshal Sir Philip Walhouse Chetwode, (1869-1950) was a cavalry commander during the First World War, and played a vital role under Allenby, in taking Jerusalem in 1917. He was known in the army as "The Bart", on account of his long, amber cigarette holder and dapper manner, not to mention his aristocratic heritage (he succeeded his father as seventh Baronet in 1905). Chetwode was a serious soldier nevertheless. Read more about Sir Philip Chetwode

Sidney Godley VC

Sidney Godley VC

Sidney Godley - by kind permission of the Godley Family

Sidney Frank Godley (1889-1957) was the first Private to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War. He was born at North End, East Grinstead, West Sussex. Following his mother’s death in 1896 he was sent to live with relatives in Willesden, North London. His father remarried in 1899 and by the time of the 1901 Census, Godley was staying with his family again, this time in Bromley, Kent. Godley left school at fourteen and worked at an ironmonger's in Kilburn for a few years, then in 1909 he joined the Royal Fusiliers. Read more about Sidney Godley VC

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams in 1915 - by kind permission of Ursula Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1915 - by kind permission of Ursula Vaughan Williams

The English composer and folk song collector Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was born in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. He was a great-great grandson of both the pottery manufacturer, Josiah Wedgwood, and of the eighteenth century intellectual, Erasmus Darwin. Another illustrious relative was his great-uncle, Charles Darwin. After his father died in 1875, Vaughan Williams lived at the Wedgwood family home at Leith Hill Place, Dorking in Surrey. He attended Charterhouse School then went to study first at Trinity College, Cambridge and then later, at the Royal College of Music (RCM). Read more about Ralph Vaughan Williams

Pals Battalions

When war broke out in August 1914 most people in Britain expected it to be "over by Christmas". In those early days there was no shortage of volunteers; half a million men joined up within weeks. However, some expected the war would last longer. General Henry Rawlinson, the Commander of the 4th Army, devised a recruitment scheme to maintain the momentum. He saw that patriotism alone would not be enough and sensed that men might join up if they were able to serve alongside their relatives, friends, neighbours, workmates or colleagues. These regiments became known as "Pals Battalions". Read more about Pals Battalions

Taffy IV, the Regimental Goat

Taffy the IV - by kind permission of the Regimental Museum of the Royal Regiment of Wales

Taffy the IV - by kind permission of the Regimental Museum of the Royal Regiment of Wales

One of the most unusual entries in the Medal Card Index is "Taffy the IV" who was awarded the 1914 Star. He was attached to 2nd Battalion Welsh Regiment and his rank was "The Regimental Goat". Taffy entered France on 13 August 1914 and saw active service in the Retreat from Mons, the first great Battle of Ypres and Gheuveldt and finally, Festubert and Givenchy. His medal card notes that he died on 20 January 1915. You can see his medal card here.

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A goat was first adopted as a mascot during the Crimean War but Queen Victoria presented the first "official" goat from the Royal Herd at Windsor in 1862. Each goat is identified as the gift of the Sovereign by a silver head plate. Goats continue to come from the Royal Herd which is now kept at Whipsnade Zoo. The current "Taffy" is listed in the battalion ration roll as "Gwilyn Jenkins". You can find out more about the Welsh Regiment at the museum website . The Imperial War Museum North exhibition The Animals' War explores the role of animals in conflict from the First World War to the present day.

Search now for medal cards for your own ancestors. Or find out more about the Medal Index Cards in DocumentsOnline.