Ray Goddard

Ray GoddardRay was born on March 16, 1924 at Raetihi, New Zealand.

When he was 18, Ray joined 8th Army Service Corp, New Zealand Army on June 25, 1942 with the service number 624854. He later enlisted in the navy on July 27, 1943 with the service number NZ7853. He was 5' 11.5" tall, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Ray served on HMS Saunders in Egypt, HMS Assegai at Durban, South Africa, HMS Lanka at Ceylon, and HMNZS Gambia (June 1944 - 10th Jan 1946). For his service, Ray was awarded the 1939-45 Star (Battle of Britain clasp), Burma Star (Pacific clasp), War Medal 1939-1945, New Zealand Operational Service Medal, New Zealand War Service Medal, Defence Medal, and the New Zealand Service Medal 1946-1949.

Ray married a nurse, Pamela Kirkby, on April 8,1950. Twins, a boy and a girl, were born in 1952. Their son, John, qualified as a lawyer, and Janet their daughter, a nurse.

Ray's father was a commerical beekeeper and after the war Ray joined the Agricultural Deptartment as an Apiarist Instructor. After 8 years, in 1954, he left to start and coown a commericial apiary business. In 1958, Ray and his family moved to Tauranga, where he and Pam opened a lending library, followed by a bookshop. Being a book seller/stationer suited Ray and became a career that lasted 30 yers.

Ray was a great success as a book seller and 23 years were spent as an executive on the N.Z. Booksellers Council - 3 of those as president. In 1984, Ray was awarded a certificate for outstanding service to the retail bookselling trade. Then, as a chairman of the Book Marketing Council (a joint publishing & bookseller organisation), in 1985 he was elected to lifetime membership. The only bookseller ever to be given such an honour. The couple's Tauranga premises was sold for redevelopment in 1987, becoming the Goddards Centre in their honour.

Ray retired to Taupo in 1988. Pam passed away in 2016, but Ray remained active, volunteering at Lake Taupō Hospice to which Ray and Pam had donated a library.

In 2019, Ray remembered that:

At sunset almost all the crew went topside to watch the Ensign lowered, everybody saluted and the sound of bugles around the bay was something he will never forget.

It was first time they could sleep with deadlights up and scuttles open, such luxury.

Ray Goddard (standing) in 2019

Ray Goddard (standing) in 2019

When Ray celebrated his 100th birthday in 2024, he was interviewed by the Waikato Herald, and described his time in the RNZN as "hazardous, stressful and extremely tiring." The article goes on to say that:

Goddard spent two birthdays at sea, writing in his diary on his 21st: "I wonder if I’ll ever see my mum again".

The ship was off the shores of Japan when peace was declared, a moment forever burned into his memory.

It was evening and we anchored in this beautiful harbour as the sun set and the announcement came over the loudspeaker.

The war flag came down, we looked at each other as we saluted, and tears were coming down.

It’s the most emotional thing I’ve ever felt in my life ... especially as we knew some of our friends weren’t coming home.

Ken and Ray Goddard in 1945

Ken and Ray Goddard in 1945

B Turret Gun Crew

"B" Turret guns crew in 1945
Able Seaman Ray Goddard is back row, 2nd from left

Ray wrote about the last hours of WWII while he was on HMNZS Gambia for the Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph

On August 27th, 1945, we had last received orders to move into Japanese waters….It was a slow journey and an anxious few hours. We were all at action stations with guns loaded and ready to hit pre-selected targets. Apart from the concern of mine fields everyone thought a last ditch all out attach by suicide planes was a distinct possibility. Our aircraft carriers with their destroyer escorts stayed well out to sea but sent hundreds of planes to give us added protection. After so long at sea constantly on the alert, with the ship pitching and rolling in heavy seas the tranquility of being at anchor was intensely moving and enhanced by a glorious sunset against the backdrop of Mt Fujiyama. Then as the sun went down and sounds of the ships bugle echoed across the bay all sailors on deck stood to attention, faced aft and saluted as our flag was lowered for the day. Very very emotional! The war had really ended!

HMNZS Gambia's crew with a captured Japanese flag

HMNZS Gambia's crew with a captured Japanese flag

Ray Goddard is the man on the bottom left of this photo. Ray Goddard was part of "B" turret guns crew.

The writers and contributors of the RNZN Communicators Association have been a wonderful source of information. In November 2018, Shane Scott wrote that the crew member 4th from the right in the above photo looks like his granddad, Lindsy Cummings. Lindsy served on HMS Gambia from 1943 to 1946 as radar operator and pom-pom gunner. Lindsy passed away around 1994. The man on the far left is believed to be Robert Harvey.

In 2017, Ray was interviewed for the NZ WWII Oral History Resource Centre and NGA-TOA Oral History Project. When I checked in March 2024, one now needs a login to view and the story had disappeared from the other. NGA TOA also had an account on Vimeo, Our War, where a video in which Ray reflected about what his time during WWII meant to him and how it affected his life, could be seen and that had disappeared as well.