8993 PTE. H. W. MOSS. K.R.R.C.

 

Herbert Worden Moss was born on 15 April 1888 in Bamber Bridge (Brandiforth Street) and baptised on 6 May.  His father was William Richard Moss (b. 1863 in Bamber Bridge), a machine minder in a cotton mill.  His mother was Mary Ellen Worden (b. 1861 in Walton Le Dale).  Richard and Mary Ellen were married in 1886 and they had 7 children, though 1 died in infancy.  The survivors were Elizabeth Ellen (b. 1886), then Herbert, then Frederick (b. 1890), Margaret (b. 1894), William (b. 1895) and finally Albert (b. 1896).  I haven’t been able to find the family in the 1911 Census but in 1901 they were living at 40 Station Road, Bamber Bridge.  Mary Ellen died in 1913 and two years later Richard married Margaret Whitehead (b. 1869 in Preston).  Margaret already had 7 children from her previous marriage, one of whom was William Whitehead, who would be killed at Armentières in 1917.

 

Herbert enlisted as soon as War broke out.  He joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was assigned service number 8993 and posted to 4th Battalion.  4Bn came under orders of 80th Brigade in 27th Division.  Herbert landed at Le Havre with his Division on 20 December 1914 and they then moved to the area between Aire-sur-la-Lys and Arcques, in north-east France.  In 1915 they moved to Ypres and took part in the actions at St Éloi.  In the spring of 1915, the Germans made a concerted attempt to attack and capture Ypres.  They built an extensive system of defensive tunnels and were actively mining the British trenches.  They exploded the mines in March 1915 and in the ensuing fighting on 14-15 March, 27th Division suffered some 500 casualties.  Mining and counter-mining, and fighting to capture and hold the resulting craters, would be a feature of this part of the front, south of Ypres, for the next two years.  In April, the Germans renewed their efforts and made significant advances towards Ypres in several phases of attacks now known as the Second Battle of Ypres, at Gravenstafel Ridge (22-23 April), St Julien (24 April – 5 May), Frezenberg (8-13 May), and Bellewaarde (24-25 May).  This battle is notorious as the first German mass use of poison gas (chlorine). 

 

Early May 1915 was fairly quiet for 4Bn.  They were in dugouts near Bellewaarde.  The War Diary reports that 6 May was “A quiet day in the immediate neighbourhood.  Our guns seemed on the whole to be rather more active.  Nothing further to report.”  But that night, “From about midnight a hostile heavy battery started shelling from the south over a wide area hitting the dugouts west of Bellewaarde Lake.  These shells contained poisonous fumes.  At 2.40am, heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from the direction of Hill 60 – this was followed immediately by heavy gun fire on our dugouts from field batteries due east.  This died down about dawn (3.15am).”  It was during this action that Herbert was killed.  He was 26 years old.

 

At the end of the battle, Ypres lay in ruins, but the Germans had failed to break through.  In March, April and May 1915, 4Bn KRRC had 302 officers and men killed. 

 

Rank:  Rifleman

Service Number:  8993

Date of Death:  06/05/1915

Age:  26

Regiment/Service:  King’s Royal Rifle Corps, 4th Bn.

Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 51 and 53.

Memorial:  YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL

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