Both sons of Robert and Mary Ann Gosling would serve in the army during the War and, in 1917, they were probably fighting with same Machine Gun Company.
The couple had married at St Matthew's Church, Stockport in the June quarter of 1890. Arthur was born soon afterwards. Over the coming years, he was joined by another son, Ernest, and four sisters; Ella, Jessie, Nellie and Florrie. In 1901, the family was known to be living at 41 Queen Street in the Portwood area of town. There is no record of a later address.
When Arthur originally enlisted into the Army, he was assigned to the Royal Fusiliers and was given the service number of G/19348. The 75th Company, MGC was formed in the early part of 1916 and this is probably when Arthur was transferred. Later in that year, Ernest was conscripted into the army and assigned to the Cheshire Regiment (service number 80674) and was later also transferred to the machine gunners (service number 23128).
Arthur died of wounds he had received in battle. As such, it is not possible to be sure exactly when this happened, however the account below suggests that it was during a recent attack. This will have been the very successful Battle of Messines on 7 June or in its immediate aftermath.
The Company operated 16 heavy Vickers guns, each with a seven man team. During offensive operations, some of the gun teams would go forward with the infantry battalions, to give them close support. Others would remain in the British trench line and fire a barrage over the heads of the attackers and onto the German trenches. Both groups of guns were reported to have done good work during the attack. Once the positions had been captured and consolidated, 12 guns were moved up to the new front line to be in a position to engage the enemy if there was counter-attack. This attack duly arrived at about 2pm and was, indeed, beaten off. It may be that Arthur was injured during the day. However, the Company remained in the front line throughout the 8th and 9th and the British troops came under heavy enemy shellfire, so it is possible that this is when he was wounded.
The Brigade Chaplain later wrote to the family "He fell in the hour of victory; just as he and those with him captured their objective and four of the enemy's guns. I conducted the funeral service at his grave - about 1000 yards due east of Messines, for it was in that glorious victory that he fell fighting for his country. Your son has shown himself to be a sterling good fellow, a true comrade and a gallant soldier. Though so young, he had seen a deal of very severe fighting - at Vimy in 1916, during the end of April and May and on the Somme from July 3rd to the end of October and in ordinary trench warfare during most of last winter. I sincerely sympathise with you in your loss. Your other son, I was speaking with this afternoon. He is in the best of health and, like his brother, is a good fellow and a stout soldier."
Shortly afterwards, the local newspapers published "In memoriam" notices from the family. His sister Ella had married Tom who was with the army in France. Jessie Gosling had married Jim, who was serving aboard HM Torpedo Boat 99. His fiancée, Mary, also arranged for this to appear:-
"We miss his hand clasp
Miss his loving smile
Our hearts are broken
But a little while
And we shall pass within the golden gate
God comfort us, God help us, while we wait."
Many men commemorated on our local memorials have no known grave. In most cases, it is reasonably certain that they were killed during an attack and it was not possible to recover the body. In other cases, the events of the day, suggest that the man was possibly blown to bits by shellfire and there nothing left to bury. But, in Arthur's case, he had a known grave in 1917 but, by the time the Imperial War Graves Commission had started its work in the early 1920s, it had disappeared. This may have been because the location was lost or that it was destroyed, perhaps by shellfire, during the remaining 18 months of war.