Robert Roger Godfrey MMR, chief carpenter on the Laurentic, was born in Seacombe in 1885, the eldest of four children born to William Benjamin Godfrey (Captain aboard the Wallasey Ferries) and Emily Godfrey (née Dodd). His parents had married in Birkenhead in 1884.
At the time of the 1891 census William and Emily were living at 98 Ashville Rd, Seacombe with their two sons; Robert Roger age 5 and William Benjamin age 3. Robert Roger received his education at St. Paul’s School, Seacombe.
The census of 1901, when he was 15 years of age, gives his occupation as Apprentice Shipwright with Cammell, Laird & Co., Birkenhead, so it appears that he chose a life at sea long before the outbreak of war. The family was still living in Ashville Rd and there were two more children, Florence age 9 and George age 7.
By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to 4 James St, Seacombe. Robert wasn’t at home so perhaps he was already at sea. His brother William was working for Wallasey Corporation, like his father, and was a Shipwright.
Newspaper reports at the time of the sinking noted that “there were several Wallasey men on board the Laurentic, whose relatives are anxiously awaiting news.” With around three quarters of those aboard known to have died, for many of those families, the news when it came would likely have been dreadful. More than a century later it can be difficult to find much information about the men aboard who died. Robert Roger Godfrey never married or had children and neither it appears did any of his siblings. George Edward died in 1947 and William Benjamin in 1957 leaving their estates to their unmarried sister Florence, so there are no close relatives to pass on stories about the family.
Robert Roger is remembered on the County Memorial, Wallasey, Plymouth Naval Memorial and on his family grave in Rake Lane Cemetery, Wallasey.
British Newspaper Archive
Census Returns of England and Wales 1891, 1901 & 1911: The National Archives of the UK.
General Records Office UK
British Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1918. London, England: Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.