Part 5

Farndon in the Great War

By George Harper

Corporal Walter Gilbert Moore

Corporal Moore is my third nominee for the title of Farndon ‘hero’. He was killed four weeks into the Battle of the Somme.

Walter was the son of a soldier, also named Walter who had served as a Sergeant Major in India. Father decided to send Walter junior to England for his education and the 9 year old youngster travelled on his own from Burma to go to school in the UK. He attended the Minster School in Southwell and was at one time a member of the Cathedral choir. On leaving school he became an apprentice at Simpson’s, and later a junior draughtsman with a firm in Grantham.

When his father retired from military service and returned to the UK the family lived at ‘The Hollies’ on Farndon Road.

Walter Junior joined the territorials prior to the outbreak of war and served with the 1/8 battalion of the Sherwood Foresters, the local regiment. He went with them to France and in October 1915 was involved in the Battle of Loos in the struggle for a key position known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt.  It was desperate ‘do or die‘ sort of action  in which the Foresters took a lot of punishment from well – entrenched German troops.  At one point they were in danger of being driven back by the Germans. Lance Corporal Moore’s role in the battle was mentioned in the official history of the battalion written by Captain WCC Weetman as follows:

“B Company had been detached about 5.00 pm on October 13 and had been ordered to proceed over the open to reinforce the garrison of our original front line. They remained for some time in the old support line, from which all the Company Grenadiers were sent up to reinforce the men in the Redoubt. One of these, L. Cpl W G Moore did  very gallant work, remaining for three quarters of an hour on the enemy’s side of the barricade, which was being built up behind him and then continued to bomb the enemy for eight hours.” Like so many men who performed feats of outstanding bravery he kept quiet about this courageous performance. The first his parents knew of it was when they saw a copy of the letter written by the General Officer who commanded the North Midlands Division The wording was as follows: “Your Commanding Officer and Brigade Commander have informed me that you have distinguished yourself by conspicuous bravery in the field, and am bringing your conduct to the notice of superior authority.” Signed E. Stuart Wortley. Major General. Corporal Moore was recommended to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal but sadly the award doesn’t seem to have been confirmed. This may have been down to the fact that the North Midlands Division had been set a wildly over optimistic target and Major General Stuart Wortley was held to be responsible for the failure to attain their objective. And so he was relieved of his command and presumably his recommendation was ignored..

Next year, having been promoted to the rank of full Corporal Walter Gilbert Moore was killed during the Battle of the Somme at a place called Foncquevillers (which the troops always referred to as ‘Funky Villas’

The Foresters were preparing for their next encounter with the enemy. The Battle of Gommecourt. They were in reserve and were engaged in making good (repairing the trench system) prior to launching an attack. But all their work was undone by a violent thunderstorm on June 23 which filled the trenches with two feet of water and caused some of them to collapse. On June 26 the British artillery bombarded the German positions which provoked heavy accurate return fire from the enemy. Captain Weetman reports in his history of the battalion “Casualties rose rapidly with 16 other ranks killed and 44 wounded”. Although Corporal Moore is not mentioned by name in that account, the date of death on his gravestone, i.e. June 26 1916, puts it beyond doubt that he was killed in that bombardment and he is buried in the military cemetery at Foncquevillers

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This article first appeared in the March 2014 edition of 'Farndon Focus', and is reproduced here by kind permission of the author and the magazine's editor.

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