Harry GOSLING
Rank: Private
Number: 21895
Unit: 118th Company MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 14 October 1916
Age: 23
Cemetery: Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France

In the early months of 1881, Samuel Gosling and Sarah Mather married at St Mary's Church, Cheadle. Twenty years later, when the national census was taken, they were living at 58 Georges Road, Stockport and had four children at home - Samuel (then 14), James (11), Alice (10 and Harry (8). By the time of the Great War, they were living at 78 Vienna Road , Edgeley (and , alter, at 54 Petersburg Road). Harry was working for Tom Cocker & Sons Ltd. The Company manufactured hats, caps and fancy leather ware at premises on Brinksway. One of his workmates was Harold Russell who was badly wounded on 10 October and died on the 14th

Harry enlisted into the army not too long after War was declared in August 1914. He joined the local territorial 6th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment and was given the service number of 2446. It cannot be said for certain when he went overseas but a large number of newly trained recruits with similar service numbers arrived in France around June 1916. Originally, they were intended to be replacements for casualties in the Battalion but there had been  few by that time. Accordingly, the men were reallocated to other units and it is possible that Harry was transferred directly to the machine gunners without ever fighting with his original unit. The 6th Cheshires, along with the Machine Gun Company, were both part of the Army's 118th Brigade, so it is also possible that he had joined the 6th Battalion at an earlier date and was simply transferred.

Machine Gun Companies had two specific roles in supporting an infantry attack. They had 16 heavy Vickers guns, each with a seven man team. Some of the teams would go forward with the infantry to give close support. Others would remain in the British trench line, firing a barrage over the heads of the advancing troops and on to the German trenches.

The Battle of the Somme had started on 1 July and, many weeks after, objectives for the first day were still in German hands. One was a strongpoint known to the Tommies as the Schwaben Redoubt. Another attempt to take it was to be mounted on the 14th.

Harry and his mates had been in reserve billets at Martinsart since the 6th and, in the two days prior to the attack, the detailed plans were drawn up. Five guns would go forward with the 4th wave of attacking infantry, with the remaining teams firing the barrage.

The Company's War Diary describes the attack "Brigade attacked at 2.16pm. Attack was very successful and over 300 prisoners were taken. In moving up to the captured trenches, 2 guns were destroyed by shellfire. These were replaced by guns (and teams) held in reserve. One gun did especially good work. 2nd Lieutenant T F Cunningham on noticing that the infantry were held up...rushed forward with a gun team, mounted the gun in a shell hole and opened fire on the enemy., who were firing on our troops. This gun continued firing until all the team were wounded and the gun destroyed by shell fire." 

Harry was one of three men from the Company to have been killed. They were, very probably, members of the teams that were with the two guns that were destroyed.

   
           
   
     
© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
 
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
 
Close Search Window