Albert Reginald Moore

Second Lieutenant Albert Reginald Moore of the 2/8 Battalion of the West Yorkshire regiment  was killed in action on 12th April 1917, aged 24.

The son of Thomas and Grace Moore (née Martin), he was born in Leytonstone on 4th September 1892, and at the time of the 1911 Census resided at 46 Manor Road, Romford, Essex with his two brothers Thomas and Frank and sister Grace. Albert was the youngest of the four siblings, and was recorded as a “scholastic student” aged 18, whilst his father, Thomas, was a railway accounts clerk, Thomas junior was a bank clerk (23), Grace was a domestic nurse (22) and Frank (20) followed his father into being a railway clerk.

Early Life

Albert’s education provides an interesting example of the turn of the century system, as he was recorded as attending Mawney Road Elementary School Romford until the age of sixteen. This could mean that he spent the last few years there as a pupil-teacher.

He then went on to Brentwood School as a day scholar from the third year (being admitted 19th Jan 1906) and remained there until the end of the Sixth Form (leaving 29th July 1910). The fees for the latter were paid in full by Essex County Council, for the duration of three years or longer if necessary. In completing this he must have shown himself to be a successful scholar.

Mawney Road Elementary School, Romford   (courtesy of Mawney Foundation School, Romford)

Mawney Road Elementary School, Romford   (courtesy of Mawney Foundation School, Romford)

Albert Moore gained the following public examinations whilst in the School; Oxford Junior Local, 1908 (subjects taken: Religious Knowledge, Arithmetic, History, English, Geography, Maths, & Heat). He took the Oxford Senior Local in 1909. The Senior examination was for boys under the age of 18; in 1867, girls were allowed to sit the examinations for the first time. Successful candidates in the Senior examination were entitled to be called an ‘Oxford Associate in Arts’.

Whilst at Brentwood he was recorded as playing for the 1st XI cricket team.

(photo courtesy of the Brentwood Archive)

Brentwood Archive has him leaving the school to join Winchester Training College in September 1910. He took the Archbishops’ Entrance Examination for which he was awarded a Class 2 pass. He started the two year course in 1911. In the time between leaving school and beginning his course at Winchester, Albert was a student-teacher at Parklane Boys’ School in Hornchurch, Essex.

Winchester Training College

Winchester Training College was his next stop in becoming a teacher. The weekday routine, as described in Martial Rose’s book A History of King Alfred’s College Winchester 1840-1980, reveals that students were awakened at 6.15 am and by 6.45 were attending their first lecture of the day. Each day followed a routine which was designed to keep all students at work right the way through until “lights out” at 10:30 pm. The Wintonian 1910-1914 reveals that Albert Moore was awarded a medal and certificate in swimming. At the end of his two year course, Albert was graded by the college with B in Reading, Teaching, Drawing, Science and Physical Training and D in Music.

When he left in 1913, he went back to his old school, Mawney Road Elementary School, later being appointed as a teacher at St. Dunstan’s National School, London Road, Canterbury. The Wintonian magazine records that he attended the first reunion of the London area alumni from the 1911-13 group of students. At this time the Winton Club met not only in Winchester but in a few places around the country.

The War

Albert joined the Artists Rifles as a Private, Regimental Number 4177. The Headquarters of the Regiment was in Euston Road, London. His medical form on enlistment tells us that Albert was 5ft 11in tall, with a chest measurement of 35in and expansion of 4in. He had good eyesight and fair physical development. His Medal Roll record also lists that he had served time in the 4th Hampshires, which was the College Territorial Company that students could enlist in when they began their training at Winchester Training College. He applied for a commission on 7th November 1915. From the Artists Rifles he was posted to the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince Of Wales Own) 2nd/8th Battalion (Leeds Rifles) (T.F.) as Second Lieutenant from 9th January 1915. In April 1916 Albert was admitted to Tidworth General Hospital for an operation to cure a varicocele. Although the operation was successful, it took until the end of August 1916 for the Medical Board that had been convened to examine his case to declare him once more fit for general service. His Medal Roll confirms that he was not in the frontline until 1917 as the 2/8th Battalion did not arrive at Le Havre until January of that year. The battalion was part of the 62nd (2nd West Riding ) Division and in the three further months that Albert was alive he took part in the operations on The Ancre from January to March 1917. The Division was then involved in the first attack on Bullecourt on April 11th 1917, which cost Albert his life.

The village of Bullecourt is located on the flat landscape of Picardy in north-eastern France, about 25 km south-east of Arras. It was a strongpoint on the defensive Hindenburg line. The Hindenburg Line was a prepared position with deep and dry trenches, strong machine-gun posts and 3 thick belts of barbed wire (each 10-15ft deep). Approaches towards the line could be swept by frontal and enfilading fire. The plan was for the combined forces of British and Australian soldiers of the Allies 5th Army to attack Bullecourt with tank support and push the Germans back to their support trenches. This was aimed at drawing German troops away from the Nivelle area where the French were launching an offensive. They were facing the elite professional Prussian troops. At this point in the war the opposing armies were at an impasse stretching from Switzerland to the Channel. Although the number of Allied soldiers was greater, the Germans had far superior defensive lines. On the night of the 6th/7th April the 185th Brigade, comprising the 2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th and 2/8th West Yorkshire Battalions, took over the front line in front of the village of Bullecourt. The position held by the West Yorkshire battalions ran from the Bullecourt-Longatte road, and in a north-westerly direction, partly along the sunken road to the right bank of the River Sensée. The 4th Australian Division and the 21st Division were the right and left flanking positions respectively. The 2/7th West Yorkshires held the right sub-sector, the 2/8th (Leeds Rifles) the centre and the 2/5th to the left. The 2/6th were in reserve at St. Leger.

The Allied commanders believed that the use of rolling barrages and the new tanks might provide the breakthrough that they needed. The tank did not prove to be as effective as hoped. With time it was discovered how best to deploy the new weapon, but the tank’s shortcomings were clearly demonstrated at Bullecourt. It was not suited to the terrain, was poorly armed, was extremely uncomfortable for the men inside and was vulnerable to artillery fire. It did however manage to terrify the enemy, until they were able to work out counter-measures.

The success of the heavy artillery bombardment prior to the attack was dependent on accurate range finding. This was done both from the ground and by the Royal Flying Corps. In March 1917 Von Richtofen’s Squadron arrived on the front, which had a devastating effect on the R.F.C., with Von Richtofen personally being responsible for shooting down 22 aircraft. The creeping barrage, whereby the artillery laid down a continuous bombardment in front of the advancing troops, was not a new tactic, but it had to be accurate, and timed correctly to be effective. Troops advancing over difficult terrain could find that the creeping barrage advanced far quicker than they did. When that happened the enemy could wait for the barrage to pass then return to their machine gun posts before the advancing troops were upon them. This is exactly what happened at Bullecourt.

The 1st Battle of Bullecourt began on the 11th April 1917. An attack the previous day had to be aborted as the tanks did not arrive in time, and the weather was bad. The message however did not get through to all the units and two Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment attacked but were driven back, sustaining heavy losses. The aborted attack alerted the German forces that an offensive was imminent.

The attack on the 11th was directed at a section of the Hindenburg line which was recessed. The German machine-gun posts were sited to enable them to enfilade advancing troops as well as directing fire from the front. The artillery shelling was only aimed straight ahead avoiding the flanking German lines. Despite all the factors against them the Australians did break through the German defensive line, but a failure of communications and lack of support allowed the position to be retaken. The Germans also adopted a more elastic defence method, which allowed them to absorb the attack. There were heavy casualties that day and 1,170 troops were taken prisoner.

The War Diary gives us a brief account of what happened to Albert.“ Posts relieved as usual. Lt Moeran went out on a patrol to examine the enemy wire last night 11-12 April. Lt Pothecary and 2nd Lt Moore went out on patrol to find out the strength with which the HINDENBURG LINE was being held. 2nd Lt A R Moore was killed.”

It appears Albert was killed to the west of the town and remained there for some time until the War Graves Commission decided that an exhumation was needed to allow him to rebury him some miles to the SW at the HAC cemetery at Ecoust-St.Mein, Plot 5 Row C Number 1. His exhumation record suggests that his body was identified by his rank insignia, referred to as “Stars” on the record. Albert had not left a will but after probate was settled, he left £228 1s 6d to his father as his next of kin.

Researcher and Author: John Westwood. Additional material by Dee Sayers

Sources

Ancestry (2018). Home page. [online] Available at: www.ancestry.co.uk [Accessed 2018].

Brentwood School (2018). Archives. [online] Available at: http://www.brentwoodschool.co.uk/archives [Accessed 2018].

Commonwealth War Graves Commission, (2018). Home page. [online] Available at www.cwgc.org/ [Accessed 2018].

Lidgitt, P. and Naylor, P. Cemetery photographs.

The Mawney Road Foundation School (2018). Home Page. [online] Available at: http://www.mawney.havering.sch.uk/ [Accessed 2018].

Rose, M. (1981). A history of King Alfred’s College, Winchester 1840-1980. London: Phillimore.

Vickers, J. University of Winchester Chapel Memorial Rail image.

 

University of Winchester Archive – Hampshire Record Office
Reference code Record
47M91W/ P2/4 The Wintonian 1899-1900
47M91W/ P2/5 The Wintonian 1901-1902
47M91W/ P2/6 The Wintonian 1903-1904
47M91W/ P2/7 The Wintonian 1904-1906
47M91W/ P2/8 The Wintonian 1905-1907
47M91W/ P2/10 The Wintonian 1908-1910
47M91W/ P2/11 The Wintonian 1910-1914
47M91W/ P2/12 The Wintonian 1920-1925
47M91W/ D1/2 The Student Register
47M91W/ S5//5/10 Photograph of 5 alumni in Mesopotamia
47M91W/ Q3/6 A Khaki Diary
47M91W/ B1/2 Reports of Training College 1913-1914
47M91W/ Q1/5 Report and Balance Sheets 1904- 1949
47M91W/ R2/5 History of the Volunteers Company 1910
47M91W/ L1/2 College Rules 1920
Hampshire Record Office archive
71M88W/6 List of Prisoners at Kut
55M81W/PJ1 Managers’ Minute Book 1876-1903
All material referenced as 47M91W/ is the copyright of The University of Winchester. Permission to reproduce photographs and other material for this narrative has been agreed by the University and Hampshire Record Office.