Godfrey Meynell VC MC

b. 30/05/1904 Kirk Langley, Derbyshire. d. 29/09/1935 Khyber Pass, Afghanistan.

Godfrey Meynell (1904-1935) was born on the 20th May 1904 in Kirk Langley, Derbyshire, the eldest of four children born to Godrey Meynell (1870-1943), who was from Kirk Langley and was an Army Officer, and Edith Violet (nee Cammell) (1882-1960), who hailed from Bakewell, Derbyshire. Godfrey junior was baptised in the local church in Kirk Langley on 18th June 1904. His sister Margaret was born in 1906, another sister Mercia in 1907, and a brother David in 1909. By the time of the 1911 Census the family were living in Ireland, at St Mary’s, Cork, where Godfrey senior was serving.

Godfrey Meynell VC MC

Godfrey junior won a scholarship to Eton, but suffered from bullying before becoming firm friends with Cyril Connolly, who wrote about their friendship in “Enemies of Promise”. From Eton, Godfrey entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where he passed out 13th, before volunteering to join the British Indian Army. In 1933, Godfrey was awarded the Military Cross during the Chitral Reliefs, India in 1933. Godfrey was there as a Captain in the 5th Battalion (Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides), 12th Frontier Force Regiment. Whilst in India, Godfrey married Sophia Patricia, known as Jill, and they were both fluent speakers of Urdu.

On 29th September 1935 at Mohmand, in the Nahaqi Pass within the Khyber Pass on the North West Frontier, British India (now Pakistan), in the final phase of an attack, Captain Meynell, seeking information on the most forward troops, found them involved in a struggle against an enemy vastly superior in numbers. He at once took command, and with two Lewis guns and about thirty men, maintained a heavy and accurate fire on the advancing enemy, whose overwhelming numbers nevertheless succeeded in reaching the position and putting the Lewis guns out of action. In the hand-to-hand struggle which ensued, Captain Meynell was mortally wounded, but the heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy prevented them from exploiting their success.

Godfrey was buried in the Guides Cemetery, Mardan, British India (now Pakistan). His wife, who was three months pregnant at the time of his death, later gave birth to their son, Hugo Anthony Meynell, who is a noted academic at the University of Calgary. In July 1936, Jill was presented with Godfrey’s posthumous VC by King Edward VIII in the only investiture of his short reign. Godfrey’s medals are believed to be still held by the Meynell family.