William Gosling V.C. (1892 – 1945)
William Gosling was born on 15th August 1892 in Wanborough, Wiltshire. Following his education at the village school he worked alongside his father as a wheat farmer. In 1908 he enlisted with the Territorial Force and at the age of 18 years emigrated to Canada where he worked on grain silos before becoming a fireman on the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Following the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, Gosling paid for his passage home in order to sign-up. He enlisted with the 3rd Wessex Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
He departed for France on 6th May 1915 where his battalion was attached to the 51st Division stationed near Arras, in the northern region of Pas-de-Calais.
During the precursor bombardment to the Battle of Arras, on 5 April 1917 Gosling was acting as a battery sergeant in charge of several heavy trench mortars and was awarded the Victoria Cross for an act of supreme bravery in which he saved the lives of his detachment.
Sergeant Gosling was presented the Victoria Cross by King George V outside Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917.
“For most conspicuous bravery when in charge of a heavy trench mortar. Owing to a faulty cartridge the bomb, after discharge, fell 10 yards from the mortar. Sergt Gosling sprang out, 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 very gallant and prompt action undoubtedly saved the lives of the whole detachment.”
(copy of the Citation as it appeared in London Gazette, 14th June 1917)
On 14 June 1919 William was discharged. He became a tractor driver in Essex, where he met his wife Martha. They returned to Wroughton in 1920 to take up the tenancy of Summerhouse Farm on Wharf Road. He became vice-president of the Wroughton branch of the Royal British Legion until 1933 and served as a Parish Councillor for 14 years (1922-1936).
William managed and worked his family farm in Wroughton for the remainder of his life. Between the two world wars, he also ran a village shop - “W Gosling VC Dairyman & Confectioner”. During Second World War, the decorated war hero served as a Major in the Home Guard.
William Gosling VC remained in Wroughton until his death on 12 February 1945 at the age of fifty two years.