Rank: Sapper
Number: 37193
Unit: 71st Field Company ROYAL ENGINEERS
Date of Death: 8 March 1917
Age: 29
Cemetery: Basra Memorial, Iraq

Alfred Gosling and Millicent Rudge married in the early months of 1882 in the Oldham area. The following year, their first child, Herbert was born. Later in the decade, the family emigrated to find a new life in Canada and Thomas and Samuel were born there. The life couldn't have suited them as, by the early 1890s, they had returned to the UK and had come to live in Stockport, possibly at 11 Victoria Street, Shaw Heath (where they were known to be in 1901). Alfred died in 1897 and, ten years later, Millicent remarried and became Mrs Ashton.

Samuel enlisted into the army at Stockport and his service number indicates he joined up soon after War was declared. It's not known what he did for a living, but it is very probable that he had craft or driving skills that made him suitable for the Engineers. The 71st Field Company became operational in the early 1915 and Samuel was, almost certainly, one of its original members.

They went on active service later in the year, landing at Gallipoli at the beginning of August. After the failure of that campaign, the troops started to be withdrawn from late December and all of them had been withdrawn to Egypt by 9 January 1916. The Company was reassigned to the Mesopotamia campaign in modern day Iraq the following month.

After early defeats, British troops were advancing northwards through the country by the early spring of 1917. On 1 March, Samuel and his comrades started a march up the left bank of the River Tigris, assembling with the rest of 13th Division on the 3rd. The march continued until the 7th when they had reached a point just south of the River Diyala. The task of the Engineers would be to construct and operate pontoons to enable the infantry to cross the fast flowing river.

The Company's War Diary notes that an attempt to do this on the night of 7/8 March "failed with heavy losses to both Engineers and infantry." Presumably, they had come under Turkish fire whilst exposed in this vulnerable position. A second attempt was made the next night and failed again with heavy losses. Sometime during the 8th, Samuel was killed. His body was never recovered and identified.

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