Details of Award
For conspicuous gallantry at Lucknow on the 6th March 1858 in having dismounted, in the presence of a number of the enemy, and taken up the body of Major Smyth, 2nd Dragoon Guards, which he attempted to bring off the field, and after being surrounded by the enemy's cavalry, he went a second time under heavy fire to recover the body." ( Despatch from Major General Sir James Hope Grant, KCB, dated 8th April 1858 ).
William Goate was born in the village of Fritton, near Long Stratton, Norfolk, on the 12th January 1836. He was one of eleven children born to John and Lucy Goate. His father died when he was young and to help his mother he left school early and took up work in the fields, where he learned a lot about horses. Aged seventeen he enlisted in the Army and because of his expertise with horses joined the 9th Lancers. He served with the Lancers for eleven years and it was during his service with the regiment in India that he was recommended and awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Lucknow during the Indian Mutiny. He was presented with his VC personally by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on the 4th January 1860.
After leaving the Army in 1864, William Goate moved to Bungay, some ten miles from his birthplace where he met and married eighteen year old Sara Ling. There was one son, also called William. He was first employed in Bungay as a railway porter and then as a wharehouseman.
He was in fifties when he moved to Jarrow, Northumberland, where he was employed for twenty-two years with Palmers a shipbuilding company. During this period he served for eighteen years as a Lance Corporal in the Jarrow Company of Volunteers, a Militia unit. In May 1900 he moved to Southsea to be nearer his son and grandson, but the following year, on the 24th October 1901, he died of gastric cancer at the aged of 64. He was then buried in a commoners grave in the Highland Road Cemetery. The grave was subsequently reused twice and as at no time had there been a headstone erected, nearly all trace of the exact location had been lost. Thanks however to tireless work by Brandon Smith the grave was located and a new headstone erected. It was unveiled by the Lord Mayor on 24th October 2003.
Life in Southsea
William Goate died at 22 Leopold Street, Southsea.