From Whitwell to Waterloo: Remembering one of history’s unsung heroes

A memorial stone was erected in North London in honour of Whitwell's Samuel Godley, one of history's unsung heroes- it still stands today

A memorial stone was erected in North London in honour of Whitwell's Samuel Godley, one of history's unsung heroes- it still stands today

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As the bi-centenary of the Battle of Waterloo approaches, a Hodthorpe-born man is urging residents to join him in remembering the son of a humble Whitwell shoemaker who went on to become one of history’s true heroes.

David Yaw, who now lives in London, is planning to lay a commemorative wreath at the resting place of Samuel Godley - a young soldier who fought with remarkable bravery in Britain’s war against Napoleon 200 years ago.

Born to a simple Whitwell home in 1778, Samuel went on to enlist in the army in Chesterfield where he joined the 2nd Lifeguards. Though not much is known about his earlier service, some 12 years later Samuel found himself at the centre of the action at the Battle of Waterloo.

Mr Yaw, who has been researching Samuels’s story with the help of information gathered by The Whitwell History Society, said: “There are some fascinating details about Samuel Godley. It is understood that after his horse was shot from under him, he was struck on the head by a French Cuirassier who fractured his skull.”

“Despite this, Samuel fought on - eventually overcoming his adversary and

re-mounting on the latter’s horse.”

“They say Whitwell folk are hard-headed- but this is surely an extreme example!”

Samuel survived his wounds and returned to live in London where he found employment in the bazaar in Baker Street.

When he died in 1832, non-commissioned officers of the Lifeguards placed a memorial stone in St John’s Church graveyard in North London, which still stands today despite the fact the graveyard has since been de-consecrated.

Mr Yaw is currently working with organisations in Whitwell and the surrounding areas to commemorate Whitwell’s Waterloo hero.

“As a local man interested in the area’s local history, I thought it would be appropriate to mark the bi-centenary by placing a wreath at Samuel’s resting place to recall his part in the defeat of Napoleon,” he said.

“I hope Guardian readers will get involved or spare a moment to think of Samuel and his bravery on the weekend of 19th June.”