THE bravery of a soldier was awarded the Victoria Cross, the UK’s highest award for gallantry, will be celebrated in Wroughton.
William Gosling was only 24 when, a sergeant in the 3rd Wessex Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, during the First World War he saved the lives of his platoon by removing the fuse from a faulty mortar bomb.
On April 5, 1917, near Arras, France, a bomb was fired by the Stokes Mortar from Sgt Gosling’s battery which had a faulty cartridge.
The bomb fell just 10 yards from the mortar, near front-line infantry.
Incredibly, Sgt Gosling won a coin toss with colleagues and 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 and for this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross. William Gosling, who was born in Wanborough, was promoted to major and eventually died in Wroughton in 1945, aged 52.
The Victoria Cross is the highest award that recognises ‘conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy’. It can be awarded to anyone serving with the Armed Forces, with no distinction of rank or class. Since its introduction in 1856 only 1,358 VCs have been awarded
On Sunday, a commemorative service will be held at 10.30am in the Church of St John the Baptist and St Helen.
The service will be followed by a parade to Wroughton war memorial at 11.20am, which will consist of local youth organisations, representatives of the Royal British Legion, Royal Artillery and associations, as well as the Wiltshire Home Guard Living History Group.
Then the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Sara Troughton will unveiling a plaque in William Gosling’s honour. Members of his family will be at the service and parade.
The Freemasons will also be honouring 63 ‘Brothers in Arms’ who were awarded the VC with a new memorial, including William Gosling.
The 63 were Freemasons, being members of the United Grand Lodge of England. Their medals represent one in 10 of all VCs awarded during World War One.
The memorial at Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden, London, will be unveiled by HRH The Duke of Kent as part of UGLE’s tercentenary celebrations on Tuesday, April 25.
The hall, one of the largest peace memorials, was built in honour of every Freemason who fell in WWI.
The ceremony is not only part of the celebrations to mark this year’s 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England, but also looks ahead to the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI in 2018.