Private Charles Godfrey
Private Godfrey
Born 1871
Occupation Retired shop assistant/tailor (Civil Service Stores)
Relatives Lavinia (aunt)
Elsie (aunt)
Cissy Godfrey (sister)
Dolly Godfrey (sister)
Affiliated Home Guard
Series information
First Seen The Man and the Hour
Last Seen Never Too Old
Portrayer Arnold Ridley (TV series, radio and 1971 film)
Michael Gambon (2016 film)
Timothy West (Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes)
List of Characters

"Do you think I might be excused?" - Charles Godfrey.

Charles Godfrey (pronounced God-free) was a retired shop assistant (Civil Service stores) from Walmington-on-Sea. He later became a private in and the medical officer of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard. He was sometimes referred to by his fellow platoon members (particularly Joe Walker) as "Charlie".

Age Edit

He was born in 1871, and is not actually the oldest member of the platoon, with Corporal Jones being 1 year his senior. In the episode, "The Showing up of Corporal Jones" which is set in 1940, it becomes clear that Godfrey is 69 (he says he is 59 to hide from Major Regan the fact that he is too old for the Home Guard, which mainly only allowed man between the ages of 17 and 65).

Despite this, Godfrey is by far the most frail member of the Platoon.


Godfrey is gentle, mild-mannered and kindly — though more complex than is evident — old man. He is the only member of the platoon that has retired. In the episode Branded, it becomes clear that he was a conscientious objector in the Great War, a revelation that initially makes him an outsider. However, after saving Mainwaring's life, his sister reveals that, far from avoiding service, he in fact served with distinction as a stretcher bearer with the Royal Army Medical Corps, and heroically saved several men's lives during the Battle of the Somme (an accomplishment he plays down modestly), earning him the Military Medal. In The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage, it is revealed that Godfrey brought a German helmet, a Stalheim, back home at the end of the Great War, which he used as a flower pot.


Private Godfrey

This led to him being appointed Medical Orderly of the platoon. As it happens, Arnold Ridley (who portrayed Godfrey) had actually served with the Somerset Light Infantry in World War I and fought in the Battle of the Somme where he was severely wounded (his arm and hand were smashed by a shell, his legs were riddled with shrapnel, he was stabbed in the groin with a bayonet, and was hit over the head with a German rifle, leading him to suffer blackouts). The after-effects of these injuries gave a practical reason for his promotion as it was much easier for Ridley to carry the first aid bag than a heavy rifle. He is a long-standing friend of Sergeant Wilson, and in the episode High Finance he lends Wilson a large sum of money when Mrs Pike is blackmailed by Hodges.

He lives in the picturesque Cherry Tree Cottage with his hard-of-hearing sisters, Dolly and Cissy, whom he is clearly very fond of and often brings them up in conversation. When there is any need for provisions, his sister Dolly often provides upside-down cakes. They also have a pet parrot called Percy.

Mainwaring: "If you're not fit for active service, perhaps you shouldn't come at all"
Godfrey: "I didn't want to disappoint you, sir"
Mainwaring: "Well done Godfrey"
— He is immensely loyal to Captain Mainwaring, who often feels quite guilty whenever he has criticised Godfrey

He served for 35 years in the Army department of the Civil Service Stores as a tailor (in the film, he worked in the Army & Navy stores). A drawback of his old age is his weak bladder, which lets him down and postpones all platoon activity, hence his catchphrase, "Do you think I might be excused?", and his tendency to fall asleep can be similarly categorised; "I must have dozed off!"

As Godfrey is not as young as he used to be, his fellow platoon members always look after him — such as helping him in and out of the van, for example.


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