Brigadier-General Godfrey Goodman and the legend of the ‘Tor Top’ trench sign…….

‘Tor Top’ notice board
Sheffield Telegraph, December 6 1918
Tor Top headlines
Colonel Godfrey Goodman

In New Mills there is a spot known as ‘Tor Top’, and at yesterday’s meeting of the New Mills District Council a highly interesting letter was read from Brigadier-General Goodman, D.S.O., of the Sherwood Foresters, who wrote from France to the Chairman as follows:-

“I have obtained from the battlefield a notice-board of ‘Tor Top’, which I shall be glad to present to your Council if they care to have it.

‘Tor Top’ notice-board presented by Godfrey Goodman

‘Tor Top’ is known to a large part of the British Army, and is the highest point of a low ridge, 5,000 yards south-east of Ypres, in Belgium, on the southern side of the well-known ‘Sanctuary Wood’. The front line British trenches ran just east of the ridge after the second battle of Ypres, and in the summer of 1915 were held by the 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters under my command.

Hand drawn map of Santuary Wood by Captain EH Heathcote O/C ‘B’ (Chapel-en-Le- Frith) Company, 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters; Torr Top is approximately at Trench position A8

The highest point was occupied by letter B Company and was named by the New Mills platoon ‘Tor Top’. Other names have vanished, but this has remained to the present time, and appears on the military maps.

Men of Letter B Company before they left for France in February 1915
‘Tor Top Tunnels’ are clearly marked on a Trench Map from May 1918

“This Belgian ‘Tor Top’ has experienced several changes of fortune. In 1916 the enemy captured it, after an intense bombardment, from the Canadians, who later regained it by a gallant attack.

Canadian trench map from June 1916

“By a coincidence on the 31st July 1917, in the third battle of Ypres, my Brigade attacked from the ‘Tor Top’ position, and captured the enemy’s trenches to a depth of 1,000 yards. In April of this year the ground had to be evacuated owing to the pressure of the enemy’s offensive farther south, and ‘Tor Top’ was not recovered until the 28th September last, when the second Army attacked with such success.

Maple Copse near to Sanctuary Wood
Sanctuary Wood in 1919

“The surrounding country presents a scene of desolation that defies description. The ground has been ploughed over many times by shells, and for miles, in a once wooded country, no sound tree is standing. Many isolated groves are scattered up and down, and many more have been obliterated. Along the ridge is what was once a fine series of tunnels constructed by Canadian engineers, and known as ‘Tor Top Tunnels’

“The notice board was used to mark the tunnels, and on it is the map reference of the position. It is a battle relic that would be interesting to the members of my old Battalion, and perhaps more particularly to New Mills.”

“The Chairman had written accepting the interesting battle relic, which with its history would be permanently preserved, and congratulating Brigadier-General Goodman on the part taken by him and the troops under his command in the attainment of the great victory.”

“The Council decided to convene a public meeting to consider a memorial to the two hundred soldiers who have fallen from this district.”

New Mills 2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s