b. 15/08/1892 Warnborough, Wiltshire. d. 12/02/1945 Wroughton, Wiltshire
William Gosling (1892-1945) was born at Wanborough, near Swindon, Wiltshire on 15th August 1892. His father, Albert, was born in Gloucestershire and farmed at Somerset Farm, Lower Wanborough, Wiltshire. He married Elizabeth Ellen nee Duck in 1888 at Bath. She ran the farm after Albert’s death in 1906 and later moved to Wroughton. William had three siblings – Albert Tudor (born 1888), Francis John (born 1890) and Annie Louisa (born 1895).
William was educated at Wanborough Village School. He was employed as a wheat farmer, probably helping his mother, and served in 3rd Wessex Brigade RFA from 1908-1909. He went to Canada, departing from Liverpool on 19th October 1911, bound for Montreal. He lived for a while with his uncle Walter Duck in Winnipeg. William worked at various times on grain silos, as a fireman on the Canadian Pacific Railway and as a lumberjack.
When war broke out, William returned to Britain and re-enlisted in 3rd Wessex Brigade RFA, and went to France on 6th May 1915. On 5th April 1917 near Arras, France, a bomb was fired by the Stokes Mortar from Sergeant Gosling's battery; it had a faulty cartridge, and fell ten yards from the mortar near front-line infantry. Sergeant Gosling, after discussion with his battery and on vehement demands from the infantry, left the trench, lifted the nose of the bomb which had sunk into the ground, unscrewed the fuse and threw it on the ground where it immediately exploded. This action undoubtedly saved the lives of the whole detachment. For this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917. In August 1917, he was presented with a cheque for £130/5/6 and a silver salver by the Mayor of Swindon at the Town Hall. He was also presented with an illuminated address later in the year. He was later appointed battery sergeant major and was discharged in 1919. Post war, he was a tractor driver in Essex, where he met his wife, until he took tenancy of Summerhouse Farrm, Wroughton, Wiltshire in 1920 and worked it for the rest of his life. He was Vice-President of the Wroughton British Legion until 1933 and was a parish councillor. He also ran a shop in Wroughton between the wars, W Gosling VC Dairyman & Confectioner.
William married Martha Beverley nee Crow on 20th September 1919 at Billericay, Essex, and they had two children – Alan (born 1923) and Marion (born 1924). During World War II, he was a Captain in 9th Wiltshire (Cricklade) Battalion Home Guard from 1st February 1941 and was promoted to Major 17th January 1943. He was also a Freemason (Gooch Lodge No 1295).
William died at Summerhouse Farm, Wroughton, Wiltshire on 12th February 1945 and was buried in St John and St Helen’s Churchyard, Wroughton. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and George VI Coronation Medal 1937. The medals are held privately.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: ST JOHN & ST HELENS CHURCHYARD, WROUGHTON, WILTSHIRE.
Royal British Legion, Salisbury, Wiltshire
RA Chapel, Woolwich
War Illustrated, 21st July 1917
VC Stone unveiled on Sunday 2nd April 1917
Freemasons Memorial, London (Brian Drummond)