- Tyne Cot Memorial
- Panel: 146
Distinctions and medals
Arthur Gaunt was a 35-year-old metal worker from Manchester, who was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele. Arthur left behind a wife and four young children. When Arthur was killed on 16 August 1917, he was already a veteran, having volunteered in August 1914. Due to his experience as a machine operator and metal worker Arthur was temporarily released in March 1916 from duty to work as a munitions worker with Maiden & Co., Ld., in Hyde Cheshire. By the start of the Battle of Passchendaele on the 31st of July 1917, Arthur was posted to the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade (25th Brigade, 8th Division).
On August the 16th the 8th Division attacked from the Westhoek Ridge towards Zonnebeke. The 25th Brigade was on the right divisional flank. It advanced with the 1st Royal Irish Rifles and the 2nd Royal Berkshires. The 2nd Rifle Brigade was in support, while the 2nd Lincolns were in reserve.
Zero hour was at 4.45 a.m. Forty minutes in the attack, the 2nd Rifle Brigade got the order to send one Company up, to mop up German pockets of resistance behind the Royal Irish Rifles. “D” Company was detailed for the job. One hour and fifteen minutes in the attack “A” Company had reached its objective 100 yards east of the Hanebeek stream and Hanebeek Wood. But around 8.30 a.m. it didn’t look good. “C” Company who had been carrying supplies al night had not yet returned and the support trenches at Jaffa Avenue and Jaffa Trench were undermanned. At 9.45 a.m. things took a turn for the worst. The attack on the right of Arthur’s Battalion had failed and a German counter-attack drove the regiment on the right flank back. With their flank in the air and the Germans counter-attacking, men from various regiments were filtering back right up to the support line. The commanding officer of the 2nd Rifle Brigade assembled every available man and pushed forward. They found half of “A” Company and various other men from different regiments defending the old frontline. Together they managed to hold back the Germans. In the meanwhile “D” Company had also retired. When advancing to support the Royal Irish Rifles, they had been counter-attacked and driven back, with heavy casualties. When “C” Company finally showed up the order came down to repel the Germans at all cost, even if they had to counter-attack the German counter-attack with fixed bayonets. Every able man was sent into the frontline and the German attack was eventually fend off.
The Battalion was relieved during the night and on the following day. Almost no headway had been made, but casualties were high. Ten men were killed in action, three died of wounds and 81 men were wounded. A total of 51 men went missing, they were probably left behind along the Hanebeek stream and the Hanebeek Wood, when the Companies were forced to retreat. Arthur was one of the men who went missing during the fighting in the Hanebeek valley.