Sproat, Gerald Maitland

Lieutenant / Manchester Regiment

1893 - 1916

Gerald Maitland Sproat was born 26 September 1893, the eldest son of Thomas and Mary Sproat of Castle Street, Liverpool and of Rock Ferry, Cheshire. His younger brother, James McCosh Sproat, died ten days after him while serving with the King's Liverpool Regiment.

Gerald came to Winchester College as a Scholar, placed third on his Roll, from The Leas, Hoylake. He showed a special aptitude for ancient history, became a Prefect, played in College XV and in 1912 won a scholarship to Madgalen College, Oxford.

He obtained a commission in the 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment in September 1914 and in July 1915 sailed for the Dardanelles. He took part in the landing at Suvla Bay in August but was invalided home that September.

In May 1916 Gerald went to France with 17th Battalion, Manchester Regiment,  and fell in action at Montauban on 1 July, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. His battalion was detailed to attack the village of Montauban and having captured their objective, were awaiting the enemy's counter-attack. Lieutenant Sproat was struck by a shell while walking up and down the line under heavy fire directing his men where to dig themselves in.

Second Lieutenant William Kirkpatrick Orford (F 1909-1913) also of 17th Manchester was killed in the same attack (see individual entry). As well as Sproat and Orford, another two Wykehamists also died in the Montauban attack that day: Lieutenant Wilfred Herbert Everard Nield (H 1904-1910) was with 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), and Captain Charles Stanley Pearce (C 1907-1913) was serving with 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment.

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