MOORE, Walter Gilbert [of Farndon]

Cpl. 1st/8th Bn. Sherwood Foresters

By George Harper

Corporal Moore  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’ in Farndon 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

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.

This page was added by Website Administrator on 07/07/2014.
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Corporal Moore came from a military family. His father (also Walter) was a Sergeant Major serving with the army in India and Burma and it  seems  the family were out there with him because at the age of 9 Walter junior was sent back home to the UK for his  education. He was a pupil at the Minster School and became a member of the Cathedral choir. On retiring from the army Walter senior returned to the UK and settled with his wife Emily and the young Walter in a house named “The Hollies” on Farndon Road. On leaving school Walter junior joined the firm of Simpson’s as an apprentice and later switched careers to become a junior draughtsman in a firm in Grantham. Before the outbreak of war Walter had shown interest in a military career himself and had enlisted as a Territorial part-time soldier in the local Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters and on the outbreak of war served with them in their action on the Western Front. He particularly distinguished himself in the Battle of Loos in 1915. The Germans launch an attack on the Foresters’ lines and whilst the troops were reinforcing the trenches and making them fit for purpose Lance Corporal Moore took up position on the German side of the barricade and kept the enemy at bay by hurling grenades at them. He kept this up for 8 hours and for this remarkable action received a letter of congratulation from the Major General commanding his Brigade. He was told he would be recommended for the award of the Distinguished Service Medal. Unfortunately nothing seems to come of this recommendation except that he was promoted to the rank of full Corporal. He met his death when the battalion were in the line at Foncquevillers in 1916, again making trenches more secure. This was a thankless task as torrential rain caused them to collapse again. The official historian of the Battalion writes about June 26 that there was a British artillery bombardment of the German trenches which provoked heavy and accurate artillery fire from the Germans. “Casualties rose rapidly with 16 Other Ranks killed and 44 wounded”. Although Corporal Moore is not named in this report, the fact that his death is officially recorded on June 26 makes it virtually certain that this is when and how it happened. He lies buried in Foncquevillers military cemetery.

By George Harper
On 05/05/2015

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