Major General Godley (1867-1957) commanded the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force (1NZEF) during the First World War. At Gallipoli he was in charge of the New Zealand and Australian Division that landed on 25 April 1915. Like many senior officers of the time, he had difficulty coming to terms with the conditions of modern warfare and also the situation on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Godley and his troops were harshly tested in the campaign. If the men came out with a better reputation than Godley, it was at least partly because their courage was supplemented by his training. Godley himself, however, appears not to have allowed for the steep, rugged ground and the need to reconnoitre it closely, the very poor communications, the losses of some of his most competent officers, and the debility of the troops after time spent on the peninsula. Neither should Godley later have claimed the troops were adequately fed; the food was appalling.
The New Zealand minister of defence, James Allen, writing to Major General Andrew Russell, said it would have been better if somebody else had been placed in command once Godley had completed his training programme. But between 1914 and 1915 the alternative, for a then unknown division, would probably have been a retired British general who was less competent administratively and even less in touch operationally. Early in the war neither Andrew Russell nor Edward Chaytor would have been regarded as qualified for divisional command. Moreover, when questions were raised in Parliament and elsewhere about Godley and he offered to resign, Allen publicly supported him.
After the failure of the Gallipoli campaign, the New Zealand Division was sent to France in 1916 as part of Lieutenant General Birdwood's I Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Godley, who had been promoted to lieutenant general in November 1915, was in command of II Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, to which the New Zealand Division was transferred on October 1916, after serving in the Battle of the Somme.