- Tyne Cot Memorial
- Panel: 136A
Distinctions and medals
Thomas William Gatiss was born September 5th 1898 in Willington, Durham. He was the oldest of eleven children. Thomas enlisted in Bishop Auckland, Durham and joined the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders (20th Brigade, 7th Division).
On October 26th, the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders participated in the Second Battle of Passchendaele. They were part of the 7th Division’s attack on the village of Gheluvelt. The attack on Gheluvelt was a diversion. Advancing on the southern flank of the front was to prevent the Germans from sending reinforcements to the Passchendaele heights.
The 20th Brigade attacked on the left, astride the Menin Road. The first objective of the division comprised the western corner of Gheluvelt and the ridge on either side of it; the second was on the eastern outskirts. The second objective was allotted to the 2nd Gordon Highlanders and 8th Devonshire.
The story is as short as it is tragic. The 7th Division attacked without ample artillery support. The 91st Brigade on the right was quickly held up, so that the latter came under enfilade as well as frontal fire. Small bodies of men from this brigade actually entered Gheluvelt, but they could not consolidate any position. One battalion after another was cut to pieces by machine-gun and artillery fire.
The 2nd Gordons met the worst fate of any. As they passed through the old front line their ranks were swept away by enfilade fire. Some men followed the Devonshires into Gheluvelt. Here and there other parties pushed on a short way. Generally speaking, however, the battalion was stopped in its tracks. The entire division fell back to its starting positions. The attack was a complete failure.
What remained of the 2nd Gordons was withdrawn that night. Its losses were the heaviest of any unit in the Division. Thomas William Gatiss, only 19-years-old, was killed in action. William has no known grave and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial.