49855 PTE. J. U. MOSS. K.L.R.
John Ulrich Moss was born in the final quarter of 1893 in Preston. His father was John Moss (b. 1857 in Preston), a master sheet metal worker. His mother was Marcellina Keller (b. 1867 in Blundenz, Austria). Marcellina’s father was Johann Ulrich Keller. She had two brothers who emigrated to the United States in the 1880s and Marcellina may have left Austria at the same time but somehow ended up in Lancashire. She and John Moss were married in Preston in 1889. John Ulrich was their only child. In 1911, the family was living at Oak House, Preston Junction (on Todd Lane). John Ulrich was an apprentice in the same trade as his father.
John Moss snr died in 1914 so the family photograph must have been taken before then. A family member suggests it was taken in 1910 when John jnr was 16 or 17. He was a pupil at Preston Catholic College. When John snr died his son inherited the house and a substantial sum of money. In 1916, John Ulrich married Hilda Walmsley and in May the following year, they had a daughter, Joan. John must have enlisted not long after the wedding. He joined the King’s (Liverpool Regiment), was assigned service number 49855 and was posted to 1/7th Battalion. From January 1916, 1/7Bn came under orders of 165th Brigade in 55th (West Lancashire) Division.
55th Division’s first real test was during the Battle of the Somme and the assault on the village of Guillemont (4-6 September 1916). They then fought at Ginchy (9 September), Flers-Courcellette (17-22 September) and Morval (25-28 September). The Division suffered heavy losses and at the end of the month they received orders to leave the Somme and move to the Ypres salient, where they remained for over a year. The first half of 1917 in the salient was considered relatively ‘quiet’ though they were still surrounded on three sides and constantly exposed to enemy artillery fire. 13 July 1917 was a fairly typical day. The Bn was in the trenches at Potijze. The War Diary records “Work continued as much as possible. Trenches and back areas heavily shelled with gas shells, which hampered the work in the trenches and also patrol work. Casualties: 2 killed, 3 wounded, 10 gassed.” But much worse was to come.
31 July 1917 was the opening day of what would become known as the Third Battle of Ypres, or more infamously, Passchendaele. That day, 55th Division (including John Moss’s 1/7KLR) had moved from Potijze to Wieltje east of Ypres and they were charged with the capture of a number of objectives north of the village of Frezenberg (Spree Farm, Pond Farm and Schuler Farm). For further details and a map, see Charles Naylor’s biography.
John Ulrich Moss was killed on this, the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres. He was 23 years old. John's granddaughter, Pippa Greenway provides further information: "I have his death records and worked out from the trench maps exactly where his body was found, it was close to Oxford Road, on a track directly to the east of Prowse Farm. The story is that my gran didn’t know for ages as he was missing in action buried by shellfire and his body wasn’t found until 1918. His body was reburied in Hooge Crater cemetery (Plot 12, row B, grave 8)."
Service Number: 49855
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Service/Regiment: King’s (Liverpool Regiment), 1/7Bn
Cemetery/memorial reference: XII. B. 8.
Cemetery: HOOGE CRATER CEMETERY
John Ulrich Moss with daughter Joan, 1917