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War Memorials

In Memory of
Sergeant 9552
2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards
Who was killed in action on Wednesday, 15th September 1916
Age 35

Buried Plot I Row B Grave 5
Guillemont Road Cemetery, Somme, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Guillemont Cemetery

Guillemont Cemetery, Somme, France1

Richard Gosling was born in Hucknall Torkard, Notts in 18812, the fifth surviving child, third son of Herbert (b. 1850, Mansfield, Notts) and Mary Gosling (b. c1854, Bulwell, Notts née Knowles). Herbert was a hosiery knitter, After his marriage to Mary Knowles - who had been boarding with his widowed mother in Nottingham - in 1871, the family lived for about six years in Nottingham before moving to Hucknall Torkard in about 1877 and to the Redhill/Daybrook area by 18913. By 1901, Richard had started work as a railway engine cleaner4 but appears to have joined the Army with the Grenadier Guards shortly after this, on a short service enlistment5.

In 1906, Richard married Mabel Ethel Parker in Lincolnshire6, probably in Ingoldmells where she lived with her parents or nearby Skegness. In doing so, Richard established a connection with Beeston through his mother-in-law, Susannah Parker (1848-1920,née Fox), whose father, William Fox (c1825-1898), had been the manager of the silk mill in Beeston7. Susannah's husband, Mabel's father, Henry Parker (c1846-1928) had been a lace manufacturer in Long Eaton, where Mabel was born8, before retiring, first to Arnold and then to Ingoldmells9. It seems that Richard and Mabel had met while both were living in the Arnold/Daybrook area.

By 1907, Richard had left the Army, though he remained in the Reserve, and had joined Nottinghamshire County Police as a Constable. Richard - generally known as 'Dicky' - moved around Nottinghamshire, with his family, from time to time - as policemen did. In 1907 he and his wife were stationed in Sutton-in-Ashfield, where their first child, Crystal Audrey Parker Gosling, was born. Then the family moved to Wellow, near Newark, where their second child, Wilfred Henry Parker Gosling was born in 1909. It seems likely that the birth of their third child, Stanley Richard Parker Gosling, was also at Wellow10.

As a reservist, Richard was recalled to rejoin the Grenadier Guards immediately following the outbreak of war on 4th August 1914. He become part of 2nd Battalion which was then stationed at Chelsea as part of the 4th (Guards) Brigade of the 2nd Division, For the time being. Richard and other new arrivals were held in England for further training, while the regiment as a whole left for France, as part of the British Expeditionary Force, on 15th August 1914. In these early months, the Division was engaged in several of the actions on the Western Front. At the First Battle of Ypres in October/November 1914, the battalion suffered huge casualties, such that only 4 officers and 140 men remained. Private Gosling was amongst a contingent of reinforcements that arrived in France on 23 November 1914. Over just a few months, Richard was promoted through the ranks and reached the rank of Sergeant. In August 1915, the battalion was transferred to the 1st Guards Brigade of the Guards Division11.

The Battle of the Somme had begun disastrously on July 1st with great loss of life, and this continued in actions throughout the remainder of the first phase in July and throughout August. It was against this background that the battalion was assigned to the The Battle of Flers–Courcelette, the next phase of the Somme battle, scheduled to start on the 15th September 1916. On the 13th, the battalion was holding the Northern Sector of the Ginchy Line, preparing for the attack. Heavy rifle and machine gun fire was constant and there were casualties. On the next day, the battalion was shelled constantly but there was some respite when they were relieved by the 2nd and 3rd Coldstream Guards and able to get some rest despite a bitterly cold night with no great coats. At 6.20am on the 15th, bombardment began and the battalion moved forward through a heavy enemy barrage, reaching Ginchy at 6.40 having lost a large number of men, including Captain Lloyd. Subsequent attempts to make progress, against almost constant rifle fire had some success as well as setbacks and it was in this phase that the bulk of the casualties were incurred. In the final phase of the action, the battalion faced ferocious bombing attacks from the enemy lines which they were able to overcome with great bravery, killing the bombers and taking 40 or 50 prisoners12. It was sometime on this day that Sergeant Gosling was killed in action. In all, 3 officers and 114 other ranks from the battalion were killed in action or died of wounds. 9 officers and 232 other ranks were wounded and 13 were missing.

Sergeant Gosling is buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery which is situated on the D64, west of the village of Guillemont which, in turn is 12 kilometres east of Albert. Ginchy lies to the east of the village. The Cemetery was begun by fighting units (mainly Guards Divisions) and Field Ambulances and was closed in March 1917 when it contained only 121 burials. It was greatly increased after the Armistice by the concentration of graves (almost all of July-September 1916) from the battlefields immediately surrounding the village. In now contains 2,263 burials, of which 1,523 are unidentified13.

Sergeant Gosling was posthumously awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal14. Mabel, his widow was paid his financial effects of £14 16s 11d on 17 January 1917 and his War Gratuity of £15 on 21 August 191915. At the time of Richard's death, Mabel was living at 43 City Road, Beeston but, by the end of the war, had moved to 'Woodthorpe', Westfield Drive, Skegness, Lincolnshire. At some point she moved back to Nottingham, possibly after her parents had died - her mother in 1920 and her father on 1928. Her daughter Crystal Audrey, who remained unmarried, is known to have lived at 23 Glendon Drive, Sherwood, Nottingham, where she died in 1983, and it seems likely that her mother lived there too. Mabel died in 1976, age 9716.

Sergeant Gosling is also remembered on the Nottinghamshire County Council Employees Memorial, the Arnot Hill Park Memorial, memorials in St Marys Church, Arnold and St Pauls, Daybrook and on the Titchfield Park memorial on Hucknall.

1The photograph of the Guillemont Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Hucknall Torkard was part) in Q4/1881 (Ref 7b 419). He was baptised at Hucknall Torkard, Notts on 22 September 1889.
3Red Hill, Notts, 1891 Census, Piece 2677 Folio 34
Richard's siblings were Elizabeth Ann (b c1872), Valentine (b. c1874), George (b. c1878), William (b. c1880), Thomas (b. c1883), Herbert (b. 1886), Arthur (b. c1888) and Ellen (b. c1896). Two other daughters, Ada and Levinia Gertrude died as infants.
4Netherfield, Nottinghamshire, 1901 Census, Piece 3160 Folio 160 - 94 Curzon St.
5Details of Richard's early army career appears on his entry in the Notts County Council Roll of Honour (www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/rollofhonour/People/Details/24642), which was sourced from his Service Record at the Grenadier Guards Regimental Archives.
6The marriage was registered in Spilsby Registration District (of which both Skegness and Ingoldmells are part) in Q3/1906 (Ref 7a 1179)
7Beeston, Notts, 1891 Census, Piece 2671 Folio 99 - shows William Fox as silk mill manager and his wife Ann, living at 3 Brown Lane, Beeston, adjacent to the mill
8Long Eaton, Derbyshire, 1881 Census, Piece 3390 Folio 34 - shows the family at Bush's Lane, Long Eaton
9Arnold, Notts, 1901 Census, Piece 3198 Folio 103 - Church Street, Arnold
Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, 1911 Census, Piece 19860 RD420 SD4 ED3 Schedule 64 - Seathorne, Roman Bank, Ingoldmells, Skegness.
10Wellow, Nottinghamshire, 1911 Census, Piece 20706 RD431 SD2 ED9 Schedule 52.
Crystal Audrey was born on 26 August 1907, Wilfred Henry in March 1909 and Stanley Richard on 12 May 1913 in Southwell Registration District (of which Wellow was part) (Birth dates on death registrations).
11Details of the battalion in the early part of the war is based on its history on the Forces War Records website (www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/347/grenadier-guards/)
12This account of the battalion's involvement in the Battle of Flers–Courcelette is based on a report included in the battalion's war diary.
13The description of the Guillemont Cemetery is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
14Details from Richard's Medal Card - available on ancestry.com. The card also confirms his embarkation date of 23 November 1915.
15Details of the payments are from the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com. The amount of the gratuity tends to confirm Richard's enlistment date of August 1914.
16The City Road, Beeston address is given by Mabel in a 'Roll of Honour' entry for Richard, which appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post on 14th October, 1916. It is therefore possible that Richard was transferred to Beeston as a policeman prior to his Army recall in August 1914.
Mabel's Skegness is given on Richard's Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry. Mabel Ethel Gosling's death was in Nottingham Registration District in Q3/1976 ( Ref 8 959). Crystal Audrey Gosling died at Sherwood, Nottingham on 24 September 1983 (Probate Calendar), Wilfred Henry Gosling's death was in Nottingham Registration District in Q1/1982 (Ref 8 1463) and Stanley Richard Gosling died at Daybrook on 16 May 1982 (Probate Calendar).

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