Maurice Edgar Moss

The following biography was written by Heather Chapman and Stephen Roberts. Maurice was a brave and competent young officer, who died in the act of saving the life of one of his men. Interestingly, he replaced Ernest Herschell as commanding officer of “B” Company of the Liverpool Rifles in September 1916 following Ernest’s death.

MAURICE EDGAR MOSS

Maurice Edgar Moss was born on 16th March 1895 in West Kirby. He was the second son of Arthur and Catherine Moss (nee Hassall). Catherine was Arthur’s second wife. (Arthur was formerly married to Elizabeth Edith Robbins. Elizabeth died in 1882 without issue). Maurice’s father and grandparents, Thomas and Sarah, were born at Chester. When Arthur became Headmaster at West Kirby in 1875 he was followed to the district by his sister, Annie, and brother, George Percival. Annie Moss became the sewing mistress at the Parish School. She then set up a Nursing Home at Fremont, Caldy Road, West Kirby, and later at Brookfield, West Kirby. George Percival Moss married Emily Hughes, a Hoylake girl, and lived in Hoylake with his wife and children. The family later moved to Wallasey.

Moss Household in the 1911 Census

Moss Household in the 1911 Census

Maurice had one brother, Arthur Percival, and five sisters, Dorothy Margaret, Anita Mary, Ann Jane (known as Jenny), Marjory and Kathleen. His sisters followed in their father’s footsteps and became school teachers. One sister went to Canada and his brother, Arthur Percival, married and emigrated to Indonesia after WW1. Maurice’s father, Arthur, was the esteemed Headmaster of West Kirby Parish School (now called St Bridget’s School) for 45 years, from 1875 until 1920. When Maurice was born and at the 1901 and 1911 censuses the family were living at the School House, which was situated next to the school.

West Kirby Parish School; the School House is on the Left

West Kirby Parish School; the School House is on the Left

 

Calday Grange Grammar School Group: Maurice is standing second from left on the back row and the school's Headmaster, the Reverend Hollowell whose son Francis John Hollowell was killed on 7th July 1916.

Calday Grange Grammar School Group: Maurice is standing second from left on the back row and the school’s Headmaster, the Reverend Hollowell whose son Francis John Hollowell was killed on 7th July 1916.

The family had moved to 44, Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby, when Maurice died in 1916 and later lived at 28, Church Road, West Kirby. Maurice attended Calday Grange Grammar School. Maurice’s school records state that during WW1 he sent two picture postcards to the school, had received his commission and visited the school in June 1916.

King's Liverpool Regiment Cap Badge in Use 1898-1927

King’s Liverpool Regiment Cap Badge in Use 1898-1927

Thanks to a highly detailed conversation on the Great War Forum which in turn provides links to the Museum of Liverpool (formerly the Museum of Liverpool Life), we now have a lot of detail about Maurice’s military career. Maurice enlisted in the 6th Battalion The King’s Liverpool Regiment (otherwise known as the Liverpool Rifles – part of Britain’s Territorial Force and a typical middle class regiment of its day) in Liverpool on 18th August 1913. He was recorded as being 5’10” tall and as weighing lbs146. He was mobilised on 14th August 1914 as part of “C” Company and sailed to France on board the SS City of Edinburgh. He was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal on 28th August 1915.

On Sunday 10th October 1915, whilst waiting to attend a church service at Vaux, Maurice suffered a serious injury to his eye  as a result of some men playing cricket with a shovel and a piece of wood and was sent to a hospital at Number 2 Base Depot at Rouen. Following treatment, he rejoined his battalion in January 1916. On 26th January he was discharged in order to take up training for a commission in the United Kingdom. He was appointed 2nd Lieutenant (“on probation”), returned to the front and relieved the fatally wounded Captain Ernest Herschell  (from Heron Road in Great Meols, whose biography also appears on this blog) in command of “B” Company,  on 26th September 1916, in the Somme area. Between 14th October and 12th November 1916, Maurice underwent further military training at II Army School.

On Wednesday, 29 November 1916 Maurice was in command of a party which raided enemy trenches. After ensuring that all of his men had left the enemy trenches he headed back to the British line and found one of his men lying wounded. He picked him up and carried him on his back for some distance. However the Germans, in a high state of alert, were firing a lot of flares which lit up No Man’s Land. Maurice was mortally wounded by enemy fire but the rescued soldier survived and was later brought back to the British lines and sent to hospital. For his act of bravery Maurice was mentioned in the despatches of Sir Douglas Haig’s of 9 April 1917 (Gazetted 22/5/17).

"Mossy" - A Caricature of Maurice Edgar Moss taken from "Figures and Phases of the War 1916-19 " by P.J.Fisher C.F. (Attached Liverpool Rifles, 55th Division) and posted in the Great War Forum

“Mossy” – A Caricature of Maurice Edgar Moss taken from “Figures and Phases of the War 1916-19 ” by P J Fisher C.F. (Attached Liverpool Rifles, 55th Division) and posted in the Great War Forum.

The war diary of 1/6 KLR for 29 November 1916 records the following:- “Battalion in trenches. Commanding Officer in Advanced HQ near the front line – Major Gordon at HQ. At 4.30pm after a preliminary bombardment, the enemy trenches were successfully entered. Eleven prisoners were taken and some booty. Much damage done to the enemy lines and dug-outs bombed. Result of the raid successful in spite of enemy fire and immense difficulties of the ground. 2nd Lieutenant Moss and three other ranks were killed, 13 other ranks wounded and Lieutenant Colley was reported missing. Battalion in Railway Wood Sector – raiders return to billets in Ypres. Four attempts were made by parties under 2nd Lieutenant Phillips and Sergeant Handley to recover 2nd Lieutenant Colley. These failed owing to enemy opposition. Rest of night quiet. As enemy raid was expected, Battalion was reinforced by one Company of 5 KLR.” It is now known that other than 2nd Lieutenants Moss and Colley three other ranks  (Privates Kitson, Holmes and Casson). were killed during the raid.

Probate was granted to his father, Arthur Moss. Maurice left £106. 2s (equivalent to over £20,000 today). Maurice’s cousin, George Percival Moss, was born in 1897 at Hoylake. George also served in the Great War and became a 2nd Lieutenant. He served with the South Wales Borderers and died from wounds received in action on 22nd December 1917.

Notes
Birth: 16th March 1895 in West Kirby
Death: 29th November 1916, killed in action, aged 21
Addresses: The School House, School Lane, West Kirby; 44, Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby
Occupation: Unknown.
Unit:  6th Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment
Rank: Lance Corporal and 2nd Lieutenant
Number: 1463
Medals: 1915 Star, Victory Medal
Commemorated and buried: GH, WK, Belgium: Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery
Sources: BR, CG, CWGC, GB, GH, MC, Prob, WK, WKN, Great War Forum,

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