- Vickridge, G.L.W., Lieutenant, RANR
- Biographies and personal histories
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1978 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
‘I HAVE KEPT THE POSSIBILITY STEADILY BEFORE ME, so as to be prepared; it is very good to be brought to look upon a near death as more than usually probable . . . The weather is lovely, and entirely favourable to the little wounds, which are absurdly small. My only trouble is a pain in the small of my back, which is a little against my sleeping . . . I can only imagine the motive to have been plunder or a sort of running-a-muck. I don’t feel . . .’ And so were recorded the last written words of Commodore James Graham Goodenough, CB, CMG, RN, as he lay in his cabin aboard HMS Pearl, the Flagship of the Australian Squadron. On 20th August 1875 he died of tetanus, the result of arrow wounds received in the Santa Cruz Islands eight days earlier.
Born forty-five years earlier in Surrey, it was not surprising that Goodenough entered the Royal Navy at fourteen, for his godfather Sir James Graham was a First Lord of the Admiralty. Goodenough excelled in every aspect of his training as a midshipman, and after a long cruise to the Pacific was appointed to HMS Cyclops and spent a year on the African coast.
Obtaining a Lieutenant’s commission at the age of twenty-one, Goodenough spent the next three years on the South American Station, but was recalled at the outbreak of the Crimean War, during which he saw service in the Baltic. His first command, the gunboat Goshawk, was for four months, after which he was appointed First Lieutenant of HMS Raleigh. This also proved to be of brief duration, for on 15th March 1857 Raleigh struck an unmarked rock and was run ashore not far from Macao.
Two months later Goodenough was given command of the small hired steamer Hongkong and in September, command of HMS Bittern, in which ship he remained but for a few weeks. Frustrated by the succession of brief appointments, he accepted the position of Second Lieutenant of the Flagship Calcutta and was in charge of a landing party at the capture of Canton. Within weeks, the Admiralty promoted him to the rank of Commander. In May 1858 Commander Goodenough led Calcutta’s landing party in the capture of the Taku Forts. Goodenough returned to England in August 1859, where after a brief leave, he heard the news that the Taku Forts had been recaptured. Feeling that his knowledge of China could be made use of, Goodenough immediately volunteered to return and was appointed to command the sloop Renard.
In June 1860, HMS Renard was at the second taking of the Taku Forts by British forces. From March 1861 Commander Goodenough acted as Senior Naval Officer at Nankin until his departure for England in November of the same year. He spent five years of his brief life on the China Station. For five months after his return he was on half pay, until July 1862, when Admiral Smart of the Channel Squadron asked him to accept the position of Commander of his Flagship, Revenge. When the Channel Squadron joined the Mediterranean Fleet at Malta in May 1863, Goodenough found his promotion to post captain waiting.
Earlier, Goodenough had recommended that an officer be sent to observe the American Civil War, and in particular, to obtain information about the ships and guns in use. He was nominated and left HMS Revenge to tour United States Navy yards. He returned to England in May 1864 and on the last day of that month, married Victoria Hamilton.
Admiral Smart, now Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Squadron, offered Captain Goodenough command of his new Flagship, Victoria. On 2nd November, Goodenough commissioned the last sea going three-decker in the Royal Navy and sailed for Malta three weeks later. During his time with the Mediterranean Squadron, Goodenough became interested enough in his sailors’ welfare to establish the ‘Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Institute’, a club where the men might spend their leave pleasantly and quietly. The Institute was an immediate success with the men of the Squadron.
Sir Robert Smart’s command of the Squadron expired in May 1866 and Goodenough’s command of Victoria ceased at the same time. In September he received an offer from Admiral F. Warden to serve as Flag Captain of the Channel Squadron. HMS Minotaur was to be the Admiral’s Flagship and Goodenough commissioned the ironclad in April 1867. In December 1868 Warden was succeeded by Sir Thomas Symonds, but Captain Goodenough retained his position as Flag Captain. During 1869 Goodenough’s attention was drawn to the temperance movement and so strongly did he feel, that he addressed several meetings on the subject. After one meeting Goodenough gave up the use of alcohol for the remainder of his life.
Sir Hastings Yelverton relieved Symonds in June 1870 and requested that Captain Goodenough remain with him as Flag Captain. The Channel Squadron joined the Mediterranean Fleet shortly after and cruised for a short time in the Atlantic. It was during this cruise that the catastrophic loss of the experimental turret ship, HMS Captain, occurred. The four month old ship-rigged vessel foundered off Cape Finisterre on 7th September with the loss of all but a score of the 500-odd complement. Almost immediately the Squadron returned to England. The following month Admiral Wellesley assumed command of the Channel Squadron and Goodenough was relieved as Flag Captain.
The Franco-Prussian War which had just broken out brought many hardships to the districts in which it had raged, and for two months Captain and Mrs. Goodenough worked with the French Peasant Relief Fund. From January to July 1871, Goodenough was a member of a ‘Committee on Designs for Ships of War’ and, again spent time working with war refugees in France. During this year of comparitive leisure he had time to expound his views on the education of naval officers.