Maurce Frederick St. B GATER
Rank: Private
Number: 55322
Unit: B Company, 8th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 3 May 1917
Age: 27
Cemetery: Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

In 1884, Edwin (Ted) Gater married Adelina Stanford in Wolstanton, Staffordshire. They are thought to have had at least two daughters before Maurice was born in about 1890. At some point, they moved to the Stockport area where Ted undertook his trade as a plumber. By the time of the Great War, the family was living at 24 Derby Range, Heaton Moor. Ted had died by that time and it is thought so had Adelina.

Nothing is known of Maurice's early days but, prior to the outbreak of War, he had been studying to become a priest but felt that, as a single man, it was his duty to enlist. He joined the Army Service Corps and was given the service number of S1/2690. The S1 indicates he was part of a Supply Company with 1st Army, effectively working as a labourer. Around Christmas 1916, he was transferred to the Royal Fusiliers. The reason for his transfer is unknown. It may that, originally, his health was not suitable for the rigours of the trenches. Or, possibly, he was injured and when once again fit, the Fusiliers were in greater need of troops.

The British offensive which would become known as the Battle of Arras had started on 9 April and continued over the coming weeks in series of attacks. The attack in which Maurice would be killed was later designated as the Third Battle of the River Scarpe. The 8th and 9th Fusiliers would attack south of the River. Zero hour was set for 3.45am and the men advanced on schedule. There were numerous casualties from German machine guns in emplacements near the village of Roeux but they captured their objective - Scabbard Trench - with comparative ease.

However, there was little time to secure and consolidate the gains before the Germans counter-attacked with a barrage of grenades and rifle fire, forcing the Fusiliers to give up their ground and retreat back to the British lines. 282 men of the 8th Battalion had become casualties - dead, wounded or missing. Maurice was one of those unaccounted for and it would not be until March 1918 that the War Office made the official pronouncement that he must have been killed. His body was never found and identified.

In a particular act of bravery, one of Maurice's comrades, a Corporal Jarratt, put both his feet over a grenade which had landed nearby. It exploded, blowing off both his legs and he died very shortly afterwards. He was awarded the Victoria Cross. His body was never recovered and identified and, like Maurice, his name is engraved on the Memorial to the Missing at Arras.

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