Maurice George Moss (10 December 1897 – 20 July 1916)
Maurice Moss, Private 9594 2nd Battalion Suffolk Regiment, was the sixth man from Tattingstone to be killed in WW1 and he was also the third from the Suffolk Regiment to die in France. He was killed in action and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Department de la Somme, Picardy.
The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme Battlefields bears the names of over 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who have no known grave. Most lost their lives in the Battles of the Somme between July and November 1916.
Maurice was only 19 when he died. He was the son of George and Eliza Moss of Framsden near Stowmarket and he had an older sister and two younger brothers. In the 1911 census, he was 13 and a farm labourer living with his widowed mother and three siblings, the youngest of which was only five years old.
Exactly what brought Maurice to Tattingstone still remains a mystery and unfortunately it has been difficult to find out a lot about the man, or should I say boy. Usually the Liber Vitae gives me some vital information and piecing that together with family tree findings from Ancestry.com, it has been possible to build up quite a good picture of the previous five men. In Maurice’s case even the entry about him in the Liber Vitae is quite short. The Liber Vitae is a handwritten account of each of the Tattingstone fallen by the then Rector of the parish, Rev Charles Elliott, and is kept in the Suffolk Records Office. For Maurice it reads:
“Private Maurice George Moss was a native of Ashfield-cum-Thorpe in this county, and was there educated at the National School. He was born on December 10th 1897. Some months after the War began he came to lodge in Tattingstone and enlisted from this parish in June 1915. He served with the Suffolk Regiment in France, and was killed on July 20th 1916 in his 19th year.”
So presumably the Rev Elliott knew little about Maurice too! Interestingly he is not only commemorated in Tattingstone but he is also named on the Framsden War Memorial and Roll of Honour – a nice touch to think that he merited honouring in both his home village and here in Tattingstone where he made his home for just a few short years.
It is very sobering to consider the facts and figures about the Battle of the Somme. In brief it was the largest and most horrific battle of World War I on the Western Front and more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles of all time. After months of preparation it began on 1 July 1916 when all along the front line officers in the trenches blew whistles for their troops to scramble up ladders to go over the top. The soldiers were ordered to walk towards the enemy lines, only to be met with relentless and continuous machine gun fire, thousands of men were cut down in minutes and by the end of that first day over 19,000 British soldiers had lost their lives and the casualty figure was an overwhelming 57,470 – the highest number of casualties suffered by the British Army in a single day. The battle raged on for another 140 days and after four months of fighting the Allies had only advanced a mere five miles. The jury is still out on whether the Battle of the Somme was worth fighting and it has been said that “If the First World War was worth fighting, then the Battle of the Somme was worth the cost”.
(Thanks to Jennifer Jones and Jean Austin for the War Grave information, also the British Legion for battle information.)