Ceremony held in honour of fallen Wanderers' wartime captain

Harry Goslin paid tribute to in recent graveside ceremony in Italy

A special ceremony recently took place by the grave of Bolton Wanderers’ wartime captain Harry Goslin in Italy.

Held on Wednesday 23 July with Goslin’s son Bill, now 80 years old, and grandson Matt, present, the pair stood together by the grave for the first time at the River Sangro Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

The service was led by club chaplain Phil Mason who had gone out to Italy with a contingent of 28 members of the 103 Regiment, Royal Artillery as part of a battlefield study trip re-tracing the steps of the 53rd Bolton Royal Artillery during their battle actions in 1943. 

The 53rd Bolton was absorbed into the 103rd and included in 1943, where the 1939 Bolton Wanderers side were led into battle by their club captain Goslin. 

He had spoken to the crowd at a home game just before war started, encouraging them to join him in volunteering for the military. 

As a result of his actions, the whole team joined him in signing up and fought in action in France and North Africa as well as Italy, with Goslin rising to become a full Lieutenant, showing the same kind of leadership on and off the field.

The Regiment had also been afforded the Queen’s Baton in this, their 300th anniversary year, to take with them on tour. 

The Royal household had recognised the significance of the Wartime Wanderers story and approved the accompanying of the baton for the event.  

The trip included a look at the site near to where Goslin was seriously injured on December 14, 1943 before he died on December 18, 1943. 

Speaking regarding the trip, club chaplain Phil Mason said, “The whole trip was very emotional but particularly the ceremony by the graveside of Harry. 

“It was very moving to watch Bill and Matt see their father and grandfather’s grave for the very first time - it was like a reuniting of three generations and brought the whole story of the Wartime Wanderers to life.”

During the service, following a Bible reading from John’s Gospel, chaplain Mason led a short reflection speaking of the ultimate sacrifice that so many had made including the man in whose footsteps the contingent had walked on the trip, taking them from the football field to the battlefield. 

Captain Craig Roxby then led the Ode to Remembrance, while the Last Post was played followed by a minute’s silence and the playing of Reveille. 

Bill then laid a wreath for his father, followed by Phil Mason on behalf of the club and finally Major Tony Gledhill, Battery Commander 216 Battery, The Bolton Artillery. 

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