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William Moore

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Died : 30 June 1916


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The grave of William Moore

Born in Saffron Waldron, Essex, in 1873 William Moore was already 42 years old when he re-enlisted at Winchester into the 12th (Service) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps [K.R.R.C.], which was part of the 20th (Light) Division. He was a Rifleman with the number R/4042 and first entered an area of operations in the Great War on 23rd July 1915 when his Division landed in France. His medal entitlement was the 1914-15 Star as well as the British War & Victory Medals and no doubt his two sons were very proud to receive them after the War.

 

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William Moore's wedding in Barnet in 1905

Rifleman Moore was a former Regular soldier. He first enlisted on 21st October 1900 into the 1stRifles) at Saffron Waldron, prior to a medical and formal interview at Colchester. After initial training, postings to Burma (18th September1891), India (7th October 1892), and Mauritius (18thJanuary 1897) followed.
And then, on 23rd October 1899, William went to war in South Africa. He was evidently wounded at Paardeberge on 18th February 1900 and returned to Britain on 5th October the same year.Discharged from the Army followed in 1905 prior to marrying Mary Cracknell who was known to everyone as ‘Polly’. For his service to ‘Queen and Country’ he earned the India Medal (1895-1902) which carried the Bar ‘Relief of Chitral 1895’. For the Boer War he received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with Bars to Cape Colony, Driefontein and Johannesburg.

William Moore had moved to Ringmer prior to the First World War. Together with Polly he lived in New Road before moving to Union Terrace. They had two sons, William Joseph, born 11th April 1906 and Edward Charles who was born 26th March 1907. Unlike their father, both children attended Ringmer School.

It is understood the reason William (Snr.) re-enlisted in the Army was to accompany Lt/Col. Albert. I. Paine D.S.O., as his Batman. Indeed he had already served Colonel Paine as his Servant for very many years. Soon after arrival in France the 12th King’s Royal Rifle Corps was in the Laventie area, just a few miles south of the Belgium border. Aside from typical offensive trench actions they were involved in quite a large attack towards Fromelles on 25th September 1915. This was a subsidiary operation in support of the much larger Battle of Loos which occurred simultaneously further south. The Battalion had its first real taste of action and suffered some 78 casualties. The rest of the year and until 20th January was spent holding the line in this dreadfully wet area.

It was to the Ypres Salient that William Moore was next sent and the conditions there were just as bad or worse than before. The trenches, if indeed they could be called that, were shallow, partly blown in and flooded with a morass of fetid mud for a floor. All the while snipers carried out their deadly work and men fell into the quagmire. Then it froze, in one of the coldest winters in memory. It was not a happy place. Although as the Colonel’s Batman, Rifleman Moore will have escaped some of the appalling conditions he will certainly have experienced many.

Gradually winter gave way to spring and then summer. It was to be the last one for Rifleman Moore. The Battalion was in post near the apex of the Salient around the Menin Road and many offensive patrols were carried out from this exposed position. The 12th K.R.R.C. as a unit was last in the line during this period at Potijze from 18th to 23rd June and then it went into reserve in Ypres for six days.

 

William Moore is reported to have had both his legs blown off, presumably by a shell. He died of his wounds on 30th June and it is almost certain he was in the town of Ypres when he was hit.

An extract from the Diary of Rfn. R/8945 James W Allen, a signaler in B Company, reads:

'Came back to Ypres 23rd [June 1916]. As we came along they were shelling very heavily and dropping them against the wall by the moat. The ramparts' a very useful thing to us as it was all tunneled and was a safe retreat. All the time our coys are out on working parties every night and they are certainly doing their share. Last night, June 29th the Germans shelled us very heavily about 10pm. Our people gave them a very heavy shelling from 12 - 2am. The whole sky was lit up.'

The Germans shelled Ypres continuously throughout the War causing damage and casualties to mount up. By 1918 little remained that could be readily identified. The buildings were reduced to skeletal walls and rubble. With the appalling injuries William received away from advanced medical care, death was almost inevitable. Indeed many double amputations carried out by surgeons in field hospitals resulted in death from shock or subsequent gas gangrene. Ypres Reservoir Cemetery was chosen to be the final resting place for Rifleman William Moore. Today it is a scene of peace and tranquility far different from the traumatic war years.

 

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Ypres Reservoir Cemetery where William Moore is laid to rest with the
spires of the Cloth Hall and St Martin's Cathedral in the background.


Adapted from Valiant Hearts of Ringmer by Geoff Bridger: Ammonite Press, 1993