Gohl, Edward John

Edward Gohl, 11th EYR, killed on 23/12/1916, aged 27.

PRIVATE, EDWARD JOHN GOHL 11/489. Born in August 1889, Edward was the second of ten children to Julius Gohl (1865-1922) and Susannah Carter (1867-1925), of 49, Waverley Street, Hull. He had five brothers and four sisters.  His father Julius Gohl was a well known confectioner in Hull and Withernsea. His shop was located at 6 George Street, Hull and Edward assisted his father in the shop. His army records, describe Edward as 5 foot, 4.5 inches tall, 137 lbs weight, 38-40 inch chest, fair complexion, blue eyes, light hair, “good” physical development, Church of England religion.

Edward Gohl enlisted at City Hall on 8th September 1914, aged 25. Four days later he was promoted to Corporal and remained so throughout training and the posting to Egypt, on the 11th December 1915, to defend the Suez Canal. The Pals left Port Said and after a seven day voyage, arrived in France on 7th March 1916. The East Yorkshire were then transported to the village of Serre, to prepare for ‘The Big Push’. in June 1916, Edward was promoted again, this time to acting Sergeant. As the Somme campaign wore on though, Edward requested he be demoted back to Private. His request was granted on 26th August 1916. Strange. May have been a little undiagnosed shellshock, or a sudden loss of faith in his ability to lead men, I wonder too if it may have been his name. Julius Gohl was born in Germany and had emigrated to Britain as a young man. Back home there was some pretty nasty violence and intimidation of families with Germanic surnames, and many Anglisized their names to avoid it. I wonder if, in the heat of the losses on the Somme, there were mutterings about him. I hope not. After eight months of landing on French soil, Edward was killed in action on 23rd December 1916. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on Hull’s Walker Street ww1 Memorial and on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing on the Somme. He was only 27 years old. The Serre village cemetery contains 7,000 burials, of which 5,000 are unidentified, perhaps Edward’s remains, lie there?
Edwards siblings also served. His brothers were Charles Gohl, RASC, who served in France 1917-18; Harry Gohl, RE’s, France 1915-18; Richard Gohl who joined the Navy c 1917 and his sister Louisa Gohl who was VAD Nurse in France in 1916.

The attack on Oppy Wood, part of the Battle of Arras, was a significant battle for the East Yorkshire Regiment and particularly for the city of Hull.  All four Hull Pals battalions were involved on 3 May and all suffered heavy casualties, with 40% of those present killed or injured. 2nd Lieutenant Jack Harrison, a local teacher and rugby player with Hull FC, won a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery in rushing a machine gun position to protect his platoon. His body was never found.
The village of Oppy in France had been in German hands since October 1914 and was part of a formidable defensive system including trenches, dug-outs and thick barbed wire defences. During the Battle of Arras, which began in April 1917, the British tried to take Oppy. The first attack was a failure. A second attack was partially successful. The third attack on 3 May, known officially as the Third Battle of the Scarpe, was again unsuccessful with significant loss of life. The troops were ordered to attack at 3.45am, rather than at dawn, and the defending Germans could easily see the line of British soldiers clearly lit by the full moon.The British continued to attack Oppy and were finally successful the following year. The City of Hull Memorial at Oppy was unveiled in 1927 and commemorates the men of the Hull Pals who were killed on 3 and 4 May 1917.

For more information on the Gohl family, please see the link, kindly forwarded to me by Brian Gohl on 03/01/2015.

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Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France