Stanley Vernon Goodall

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SIR Stanley Vernon Goodall, K.C.B., O.B.E., Royal Corps of Naval Constructors (18 April, 1883 – 24 February, 1965) was a naval architect who rose through the ranks of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors to become the Director of Naval Construction during the Second World War.

Early Life & Career

This article is largely his Obituary from The Mariner's Mirror

Goodall was born on 18 April 1883 at the fire station, West India Road, Poplar, London, the son of Samuel Goodall, fireman, and his wife, Eliza Summers. He was educated at Owens School, Islington, and intended to become a naval engineer officer but soon, in July 1901, transferred to the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors. He graduated from the Royal Naval College in 1907 with one of the highest marks of all time and excellent records in tennis and rugby.

After a short appointment to Devonport Dockyard, Goodall went to work under Edmund Froude at the Haslar ship model tank. In 1908 he married Helen (d. 1945), daughter of C. W. Phillips of Plymouth. By 1911 he was at the Admiralty in charge of the design of the novel light cruiser Arethusa. His later description of this design in a lecture to American naval constructor students forms the best account of the way in which designs were carried out in that era.

At the outbreak of war Goodall was lecturer at the Royal Naval College, a prestigious post, but was recalled for other wartime duties. He was part of a team which studied damage to Royal Navy ships after the battle of Jutland though his report was later suppressed. When the USA entered the war he was sent to Washington as assistant naval attaché, working within their design office and serving as the focus for exchange of information between British and American designers. It was a valuable experience meeting senior American officers and corresponding directly with the British Director of Naval Construction, Sir Eustace Tennyson-D'Eyncourt. Goodall's views on American ships were reported at length and summarized in Engineering in 1922. His work was acknowledged with appointment as M.B.E. and the award of the American Navy Cross.

On his return to the UK, Goodall worked on the design of post-war battleships and battle cruisers, culminating in the mighty G3, which was ordered in 1921 but cancelled under the Washington treaty. After a short time in Malta Dockyard he returned to head the destroyer design section—and the departmental concert party. It was in this appointment that, in response to a rather dull draft from his assistant, he wrote that he just wanted the facts and ‘I will impart the enthusiasm’, a phrase which might be seen as his motto. A number of his proposals for novel designs failed to materialize in the quest for economy.

Goodall became chief constructor in 1930 and assistant director in 1932, mainly concerned with the modernization of older ships and trials of protection though including the early studies for the King George V class battleships. In 1934 he was made O.B.E., which he attempted to refuse seeing it as an insult to an officer of his rank. In 1936 Goodall became Director of Naval Construction, the principal technical adviser to the Board of Admiralty. The appointment as C.B. in 1937 and K.C.B. in 1938 went far to offset the earlier, insulting, O.B.E.. He took a very direct view of his responsibility for the design of a ship; in signing the building drawings he took personal responsibility for success or failure. This responsibility and poor health seem to have caused the loss of his sense of humour and several of his staff used the word ‘austere’ to describe his wartime manner, though he was always fair.

World War II

The department of the director of naval construction was moved to Bath in September 1939. Goodall opposed this more as he lost the personal contact with ministers and other board members which he saw as essential; but this was partially remedied in October 1942 when he and a small staff returned to Whitehall. In the early part of the war Churchill was first lord of the Admiralty and Goodall saw him frequently and admired him greatly—though some of the minister's bright ideas were off-centre. As well as the overall direction of the department, Goodall continued to carry out a number of personal duties such as the viva voce exam of constructor students. During the war 971 major warships from battleships to fleet mine-sweepers were built, together with innumerable landing craft and coastal forces. In addition, some 1700 requisitioned merchant ships and trawlers were converted for war purposes.

After retirement Goodall continued an active professional life as prime warden of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, vice-president of the Institution of Naval Architects, and with the British Welding and Ship Research associations. He died on 24 February 1965 at the Bolingbroke Hospital, Battersea, London.

See Also

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Sir Arthur W. Johns
Director of Naval Construction
1936[Citation needed] – 1944
Succeeded by
Sir Charles C. Lillicrap