JACK ALBERT MOORE
1st BATTALION, THE QUEEN’S (ROYAL WEST SURREY) REGIMENT
KILLED IN ACTION IN THE BATTLE OF LOOS
25th SEPTEMBER 1915, AGED 38
COMMEMORATED: LOOS MEMORIAL, FRANCE
JACK ALBERT MOORE was born in Rudgwick in 1877, the son of Mark and Ann Moore and brother of Frederick (born Alfold 1864), Mark (born Alfold 1868) and Annie (born Alfold 1870).
The family lived in Lower Hill House, Rudgwick in 1871 and 1881, and in 1891 the census return registers Mark and Jack as staying with their grandmother Jane Barnett in Wisborough Green. Jack's father, Mark, died in 1890. By 1901 the widowed Ann had moved to The Pound, Alfold, where she was living with Jack and Mark, together with Mark's wife Emily and their two children Jack (born 1898 Alfold see (1)) and Annie (born 1895 Alfold).
By 1911 Mary and Emily had moved to Velhurst Gate, Alfold. Jack and his widowed mother remained in The Pound, Alfold, near Billingshurst, where he gave his employment as that of a farm labourer.
It appears the Jack's service records were destroyed during the Second World War, however surviving records indicate that in January 1915 he enlisted at Stoughton Barracks in Guildford, the depot of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment).
Following his basic training, Jack arrived in France to serve with the British Expeditionary Force on 18th April 1915. It appears that he was posted to the regiment's 1st Battalion (1/Queen's) as a member of a draft replacing casualties.
Jack's first experience of a major battle was from a distance, with 1/Queen's being held in reserve for the Battle of Festubert (15th-25th May 1915). On 21st July 1915 the battalion was transferred to 5th Brigade, 2nd Division, and in the late summer began preparations for a forthcoming action.
THE BATTLE OF LOOS
This action was the Battle of Loos, which opened on 25th September 1915. In the preceding days the 5th Brigade had been holding the trenches in the Givenchy Sector north of the La Bassee Canal. The battalion's orders for the 25th were to attack from the Givenchy Sector, capture the German trenches that faced them, hold them and, if possible, press on to capture the German second line trenches that lay about a mile in the rear in the direction of Violaines. Gas was to be used for the first time by the British forces, released from cylinders in the front line trenches prior to the advance. In the sector of the 5th Brigade there were sixty gas emplacements, each releasing three cylinders of gas. The men were issued primitive gas masks in which to carry out the attack, a grey-blue head cover.
At 5am on the morning of the 24th, twenty four hours before zero, the battalion entered the trenches from which they would attack, enabling the men to make final preparations and familiarise themselves with the geography of the area. They also received a draft of 40 men. One can only imagine the thoughts of these young replacements as they joined their new battalion from England on the eve of a full scale attack.
The attack in the Givenchy Sector was to be subsidiary to the main battle, which was taking place to the south. With no reserve to their rear, it was decided to send two companies forward initially ('B' and 'D') on a frontage of 300 yards. The companies advanced in four waves of a platoon per wave, thereby giving each man of each man a frontage of approximately 4 yards. The support company ('C') would then move into the vacated British front line, with 'A' Company in reserve.
THE BATTLE OF LOOS, 25TH SEPTEMBER 1915
The morning of 25th September 1915 dawned with light and variable winds, which hampered the deployment of gas by the British forces to the south of the Queen's and the smoke screen that the Queen's were planning to advance behind. As zero hour approached the 96 hour preparatory barrage fell silent.
The Battalion War Diary reports: "Our leading line advanced at 6.30am and reached the German 3rd line without great opposition. The attack was evidently a complete surprise. The battalion advanced on a frontage of two platoons, D Company (Major Bunbury) on the right and B Company (Capt Brooke) on the left. The advance was necessarily slow to keep behind the smoke, B & D Companies reached the German line and gained touch with 2/ Oxford Light Infantry and the 2/Highland light Infantry on the left and right respectively."
When the Commanding Officer heard that most of the leading battalion's officers had become casualties and that grenades were required in the captured German front line he ordered the advance of 'C' Company, taking forward as much Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) as possible and 20-30 boxes of hand grenades. 'A' Company, commanded by Captain G B Parnell (2), assumed their position in the front line.
"The support company (C Company) under Capt Weeding held our front line trenches and, at about 8.15am two platoons of this company reinforced B & D Companies taking up a supply of bombs with them. Lt E D Drew commanded this party. The enemy developed a strong bombing attack on both flanks of the regiment, and our men were unable to reply effectively owing to a lack of bombs."
The battalion were armed with a type of hand grenade that required ignition from a match box striker attached to the wrist of the bomber. Rain was falling during the attack and the generally damp conditions made ignition impossible. The German stick grenade, with its reliability and greater range, outclassed the British opposition and forced their retreat.
"At about 9.45am the two and a half companies were obliged to fall back into our own lines, under very heavy machine gun fire from our right flank.
Casualties: Lts A W A Bradshaw (KIA), C D M Fowler (KIA), M I B Howell (KIA), F G Plant (MIA, later confirmed KIA), Maj J K N Bunbury(WIA & MIA), Capt C B Brooke (WIA & MIA), Lts E D Drew (WIA), H P Foster (WIA), 2nd Lt RC Joynson-Hicks (WIA) (3).
Other Ranks: 19 Killed in Action, 21 Missing believed Killed, 138 Wounded in Action, 80 Missing in Action or Wounded and Missing in Action, 7 Suffering from Gas, 1 Died of Wounds, Total 266
The remainder of the day was spent regaining the line and in collecting the wounded, burying dead etc."
At 3.30pm the following day the battalion was relieved by the Highland Light Infantry and retired to billets in Le Preol. Amongst the men who were listed as missing was Private Jack Moore, who was subsequently posted as killed in action. Jack's body was never recovered from the battlefield. He is therefore one of the 87 men of the battalion who died on the 25th September 1915 with no known grave and who are commemorated on the Loos Memorial at the Dud Corner Cemetery. The bodies of 23 men from the battalion were identified and interred in cemeteries on the battlefield.
Jack was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
(1) Nephew Jack Moore also served (Gunner 120022 283rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery). Service record Online. Enlisted 29/09/1916
(2) Geoffrey Brooke Parnell became a Major with 1/Queen's and was killed in action at High Wood in the Battle of the Somme on 15/07/1916. He & the men who fell with him are commemorated with a statue in the churchyard of the Holy Trinity Church, Guildford.
(3) Later Sir Richard Cecil Joynson-Hicks. From Ewhurst. Son of Sir William Joynson-Hicks, 1st Viscount Brentford . Born 15/11/1896 in London, commissioned 16/12/14. Later commissioned into RFC and RAF. Father was chairman of the House of Commons Parliamentary Air Committee during WW1. Died 27/06/1958.
Soldiers Died in the Great War
Battalion War Diary
Soldiers Medal Record Card
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
History of the Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment (in the Great War) Col H C Wylly