- Tyne Cot Memorial
- Panel: 136A
Distinctions and medals
Private Gatiss Thomas William was born September 5th 1898 in Willington, county Durham as oldest child of 11.
He served in the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders, part of the 20th Brigade, 7th Division.
In October 1917 the Commander-in-Chief (Haigh) had given up the hope with which he had started the Third Ypres of clearing the Flemisch coast but he decided to go on after the victories of September. As, however, the weather remained very bad it involved a nightmare for the troops in the final stages.
Only one battalion of the regiment was involved in them, and it looks on the face of it rough luck that it should have been the 2nd, which was the most recently engaged.
Its mission was to capture the ruins of the big village of Gheluvelt, scene of terrific fighting, in which the 7th Division had played a prominent part, in 1914.
The troops found a tragic change, though they had been prepared for it by the rain which had fallen steadily on their rest billets.
Movement off the duckboards was now virtually impossible. The Menin Road looked from a distance like a canal. No one entered the operations of October 26th 1917 with good hope of success, and at best it was only subsidiary to the main attack farther north.
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 ran round the eastern and southern outskirts.
On the front of the 20th Brigade the second objective was allotted to the 2nd Gordon Highlanders and 8th Devonshire.
The story is as short as it is tragic. The 91st Brigade on the 20th’s right was completely held up, so that the latter came under enfilade as well as frontal fire. Small bodies of brave men from this brigade actually entered Gheluvelt, but could not stay there. 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 Devonshire into Gheluvelt. Here and there other parties pushed on a short way. Generally speaking, however, the battalion was stopped in its tracks. The attack was a complete failure. It was the mud that defeated the 20th Brigade.
What remained of the 2nd Gordons was withdrawn that night. Its losses were the heaviest of any unit in the Division.
Thomas William Gatiss was one of the men killed in action that day of October 26th 1917, age 19. His remains were never found so his name is commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial, panel 136A.