Rank: Sapper 172659
Regiment: 59th Divisional Signals Company, Royal Engineers
Arthur Gush was born in Beer in 1898, one of the six children of John Gush, a blacksmith, and his wife Eliza. Both of Arthur’s parents were born in Branscombe, but by the time of the 1911 census they were living in Beer.
He joined the Royal Engineers on 13 June 1916, and gave his next of kin as his mother, Eliza, of Bank Cottage, Beer, and his occupation as Post Office telegraphist – just like his brother Archie.
On Arthur’s enlistment form the officer commanding the Recruiting Office at Axminster described him as ‘smart’ and ‘suitable for the arm of the Service in which he desires to enlist’. Another entry states, ‘may be accepted for RE Signals Service. Please send him to RE Camp, Bletchley’.
His Army record includes a letter of recommendation from the Sub Postmaster at Seaton Post Office, where Arthur worked as a telegraphist and postal clerk, and another from Joseph Beale, a Congregational minister who lived in Seaton and who said he had known Arthur all his life.
He was posted to France on 6 May 1917. It was over a year later, on 17 July 1918, that he was given his first leave, of two weeks, in the UK.
Arthur served with the 4th Section of the 59th Divisional Signals Company, which supported the 178th Infantry Brigade. In late August his unit, with the rest of the Division, moved to the Ypres salient in Belgium, where they took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood in late September. In late November they were involved in the attack on Bourlon Wood, which was part of the Battle of Cambrai.
In March 1918 Arthur’s unit was in the front line near St Quentin when the Germans launched what turned out to be their last great offensive of the war, and suffered extremely heavy casualties as a result of enemy shellfire. On 1 April, what remained of the Division was moved to Poperinge in Flanders and received reinforcements. They suffered further casualties in the Battle of Bailleul in mid-April, before being withdrawn from the line in early May.
Arthur’s unit took part in the general advance which began in August 1918, and helped to liberate the city of Lille. The Division was the first to cross the River Scheldt, and by the armistice on 11 November had reached a point north east of Tournai in Belgium.
Arthur’s second period of home leave did not come until well after the war was over, in August 1919, shortly before the Division was disbanded, and he was discharged from the Army at Chatham, in Kent, on 12 October 1919.
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