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Royal Scots Fusiliers leaving Gosport
Royal Scots Fusiliers leaving Gosport
Dead British soldiers left on the battlefield after the Battle of Le Cateau (1914)
British casualties at Le Cateau
Previous: Charles May
Next: John Moore

Moore, Alfred Charles

Alfred Charles Moore
1914 Star
1914 Star
Victory Medal
Victory Medal
British War Medal
British War Medal
Private (Bandsman) Alfred Charles Moore (9387)
Killed in Action on Saturday 24th October 1914
Battle of La Bassee, aged 26
Son of Michael & Susan Moore
Father's occupation: Army pensioner
Born 10th January 1889 at Hurst
4 sisters, 3 brothers, position in family: 5
Relatives: Brother of 9388 Serjeant David John Moore & 9026 Corpl Tom Moore
Infant School:Hurst Infants
Senior School:Hurst Boys
Admitted:11th May 1896
Age on admission:7
Local address: Davis Street, Hurst
Pre-war occupation: Farm Labourer; Soldier
Enlisted:Reading, Wednesday 21st December 1904
Regiment:Royal Scots Fusiliers
Battalion:1st Bn.
Went overseas:Friday 14th August 1914
Died:Saturday 24th October 1914
Cause:Killed in Action
Action:Battle of La Bassee
Battalion at:Chapigny
Commemorated:Memorial at Le Touret Memorial

Charles Moore was born in Hurst on 10th January 1889 to Michael and Susan Moore, and was the fifth of eight children. Charles's father was an agricultural labourer and originated from County Kerry in Ireland. The family lived in Davis Street, Hurst and Charles attended Hurst Infants School. At the age of seven he became a pupil in Hurst Boys School and some time after leaving school he became a regular soldier. Charles enlisted with his older brother John and served in Egypt, India and South Africa.

Their father, Michael Moore (also known as John Moore), was an army pensioner. He had served for nearly 23 years, with long term postings in Malta, Gibraltar and South Africa. He married their mother, Susan Smith of Stratfield Turgis, while serving in the Eastern Cape and was awarded the South Africa medal, with the 77-78-79 clasp for his involvement in campaigns, including the 1879 Zulu War.

A soldier normally signed up for twelve years and could then apply to extend that period. He was obliged to complete five or seven years in the colours after which he could choose to join the Reserve. Soldiers in the Reserve returned to civilian life but were paid a retainer and undertook to attend training annually and return to the army in the event of war. With the outbreak of the First World War a general mobilization was signalled and all of the reserves reported back to their units.

It is not known whether Charles was a regular soldier at this time or in the Reserve, but he was certainly in 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers from the time of mobilization. The Battalion had returned to base at Gosport on 30th July 1914 in anticipation of the mobilization order that was circulated on 4th August. Over the next few days around 750 reservists reported for duty and the Battalion numbers swelled to its full complement of around one thousand soldiers.

On 13th August the Battalion received orders to board trains for Southampton and crossed to Le Havre in the troopships Martaban and Appam to join 9th Brigade, 3rd Division. After two days in rest camp the Battalion took trains eastwards to Landrecies and after a seven mile march they reached 9th Brigade's billets at Noyelles-sur Sambre. Charles was now part of the original British Expeditionary Force of six divisions that was famously referred to by the Kaiser as 'General French's contemptible little army'. They had been sent to France hurriedly to join up with the French 5th Army and block the German advance through Belgium that threatened Paris.

The Brigade pushed forward over the next three days and the continuous marching in very hot dry weather took its toll on the men, particularly the reservists who were unaccustomed to such vigorous exercise. By the time they crossed the Belgian border, the Battalion's Medical Officer had already sent back twenty-three men. 1st Battalion reached Ghlin at 1.00 p.m. on 22nd August and at this point the British outriders encountered the German cavalry. The Battalion was ordered to withdraw and dig in to create a defensive line along the canal bank from Jemappes to Mons. The Battalion War Diary briefly describes 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers' part in the Battle of Mons; the first British engagement of the war:

5.30 a.m. 22.8.14 LA LONGUEVILLE
Marched North. Crossed Franco-Belgian Frotntier and reached GHLIN about 1 p.m.
1 p.m. 22.8.14 GHLIN
Received orders to withdraw and take up entrenched positions on S. Bank of canal from JEMAPPES to MONS guarding the 4 crossings in that section
5 p.m. 22.8.14 JEMAPPES
Dispositions made — 2 companies of Northumberland Fusiliers were on Royal Scots Fusiliers left and 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers on their Right.
11 a.m. 23.8.14 JEMAPPES
Germans attacked in force at 2 left crossings — Royal Scots Fusiliers held on until informed that units on both flanks had withdrawn and about 3 p.m. retired to N. edge of FRAMERIES. Casualties, Capt. Traill and Lieut. Stiven wounded — 50 rank and file killed and wounded. Before retirement all bridges were blown up and all boats sunk.
The Germans followed up our retirement through MONS over a bridge not successfully destroyed and opened fire from the coal dumps N of Frameries. They also had brought artillery close up to the firing line.
5 p.m. 23.8.14 FRAMERIES
There had been no time to entrench a position so the Battalion retired to the edge of the town where they were heavily shelled. At dusk the enemy withdrew and the Battalion went into billets. Casualties, Capt. Rose and Capt. Young wounded and missing — 100 Killed and Wounded

Poor communications and lack of intelligence meant that initially General French did not realise that his 75,000-strong army was facing an enemy with twice as many soldiers and artillery. He was also unaware that the French 5th Army was already in retreat and that his flank was consequently unsupported. Fortunately the professional British Army was more than a match for a German force made up largely of conscripts. Their rapid rifle fire of up to 15 rounds per minute took such a toll that in some quarters the enemy thought they were facing machine guns.

Once the British became aware of their precarious situation, they fell back in a controlled retreat that included several rearguard actions to keep the pursuing Germans at bay. After three days the Expeditionary Force had retired as far as Le Cateau and early on the morning of 26th August they drew up a defensive line to the west of the town and attempted to stem the German advance:

5 a.m. 26.8.14 INCHY
Battalion ordered to entrench a position with other units of 9th Brigade facing N. forming part of the General line. About 1 hour after arrival of Battalion on the position the German artillery opened fire on our artillery. Shortly after this Battalion was ordered to leave only 1 Company in the trenches and to retire to General Reserve. The action continued until 3 p.m. when the enemy by a strong flank movement forced back the right of the general line and the 9th Brigade were ordered to withdraw. Royal Scots Fusiliers forming Rear Guard. Casualties 8 wounded.

Thus ended the Battle of Le Cateau and the long retreat of the British Expeditionary Force continued. Overall 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers retreated for 13 days, covering 175 miles from Jemappes to Liverdy-en-Brie along roads choked with military transport and civilian refugees. The hot weather and heavy packs made the march very arduous, especially for the reservists, and many suffered terribly from exhaustion and damaged feet. They finally halted to the south-west of Paris at Liverdy-en-Brie on 4th September 1914.

The Germans were within thirty miles of Paris when, on 6th September, the French and British launched a counter-offensive that became known as the Battle of the Marne. Now it was time for the German armies to retreat and the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers began to advance. Over the next week they chased the retreating enemy northwards for over sixty miles as far as the River Aisne, as the War Diary describes:

6.15 a.m. 6.9.14 LIVERDY- EN-BRIE
ADVANCED. Enemy reported to be retiring. To LUMIGNY — Billeted.
12.30 p.m. 7.9.14 LUMIGNY
To LA BRETONNIERE — Billeted — Lt. Tullis joined with 2nd Reinforcement.
6 a.m. 8.9.14 LA BRETONNIERE
Enemy reported to be in general retreat — 8th Brigade came in touch with enemy's rearguard posted in village ORLY.
1 p.m. 8.9.14 ORLY
Royal Scots Fusliers ordered up to prolong line of R. Scots to Right towards 2nd Division. Enemy eventually retired in disorder. Casualties 2 killed, 22 wounded. Continued to march to LES FEUCHERES — Billeted.
7 a.m. 9.9.14 LES FEUCHERES
Crossed R. MARNE at NANTEUIL-SUR-MARNE;bridge left intact; marched to BEZU-LE-GUERY. Just before dark marched 1 mile North and bivouacked. Very wet and cold.
R.S.F and 4th R.F. formed Van. and Main Guards of Advanced Guard and found enemy posted near VEUILLY LA POTERIE. 4th Royal Fusiliers, supported by C & D companies, attacked; mostly thick wood fighting. With help of A & B companies, many German prisoners were taken. Billeted at DAMMARD.
Marched to GRAND ROZOY, about 13 miles, and billeted.
9th Brigade formed Advanced Guard to 3rd Division. Royal Scots Fusiliers and Lincolns were ordered to clear BRAINE with the bayonet. Marched to BRENELLE, arriving just before dusk. Royal Scots Fusiliers ordered on outposts. Cold wet night. Capt. Browne went to Base Hospital, sick

On 13th September the German armies took up positions north of the River Aisne to confront the advancing French and British forces. Most of the crossings had been destroyed and so all of 8th and 9th Brigade, including 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, had to cross the river via a single plank spanning the broken road bridge. The Battalion War Diary describes the advance:

8 a.m. 13.9.14
Marched, 8th Brigade leading. On approaching VAILLY-SUR-AISNE, firing commenced. No casualties in spite of heavy shell fire. The canal and railway bridges over R. AISNE had been broken by the enemy, so that we did not cross till 1 a.m. and billeted in rubber factory in VAILLY.
5 a.m. 14.9.14
Ordered to march. A & D companies ordered to support Lincolns at ORME. The advance was made over turnip fields and the companies were exposed to enfilade fire from machine guns. Capt. Briggs ordered his company to retire gradually and during the retirement he was killed. We had no support from Artillery. During the retirement Capt. Miller was hit in the chest. B & C companies under major Forbes were ordered to support the 5th Fusiliers on their right. 2nd Lt BETHELL was hit in the foot. Total casualties 8 killed, 67 wounded, 90 missing.

This engagement signalled the start of the Battle of the Aisne that continued inconclusively for the next two weeks. Eventually the fighting subsided into the stalemate of trench warfare that was to typify the next four years on the Western Front. 1st Battalion was relieved from the trenches on 20th September and the men had their first real rest since leaving Gosport five weeks previously. Six days later they were back in the trenches before being finally withdrawn on 1st October 1916.

Over the next six days the Battalion marched seventy miles west to Pont Ste. Maxence where they took an overnight train north-east to Rue. Then they marched west for several days into Flanders as part of a manoeuvre by 3rd Division to outflank the German army on high ground south of La Bassée. The Battle of La Bassée commenced on 12th October 1914 and on 18th October the Battalion was ordered to take the chateau in Herlies. They lost 22 men killed and 104 wounded in their unsuccessful attack and spent the next day in reserve before being ordered forward again:

20th October 1914
In reserve at LA CLIQUETERIE, about midday, C and D Companies under Major Forbes were ordered to support 5th Fusiliers at HERLIES.
21st October 1914
Orders received to withdraw to a position, ½ mile back. The 2 Companies under Major Forbes covered the retirement of the 5th Fusiliers out of HERLIES, suffering from heavy shellfire, losing 3 killed and 15 wounded. Lt. Badham, Machine Gun Officer, was wounded in the thigh.
22nd October 1914
Enemy's infantry, supported by artillery, looked as if they were about to attack our position but did not mass in any great force. They suffered heavily from our rifle fire and artillery.
23th October 1914
Retired to a position near CHAPIGNY and occupied trenches with LINCOLNS on the right and R. Scots on the left.
24th October 1914
Remained in trenches.

On this day, unmentioned by the Battalion War Diary, Charles Moore was killed in action; he was twenty six years old. Charles has no known grave and in commemorated on the Le Touret memorial, five miles from where he fell. He served in France for only ten weeks but during that time his Battalion had taken part in four major battles and sustained a shocking casualty rate. The Battalion landed in France with slightly under a thousand men but by the time of Charles's death, they were just seventy strong and commanded by a junior subaltern. Charles's brother John Moore was one of the survivors, but he was killed at Ypres the following year.


Charles Moore on the Le Touret Memorial
Le Touret Memorial

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon