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War Memorials



In Memory of
WILFRED LESLIE MOSLEY
Lance Corporal 42463
1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
Who died on Friday, 5th April 1918
Age 27

No Known Grave Panel 35 to 37 & 162 to 162a
Memorial to the "Missing", Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, West Flanders, Belgium

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
&
Remembered with Honour
Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium1

Wilfred Leslie Mosley was born in New Basford, Nottingham in 18902, the second child and second son of Samuel (b. c1862, Basford, Notts) and Rose Sarah (b. c1867, Grantham, Lincolnshire, née Wigley). By 1901, the family had moved from Basford, Notts to live at 12 Newton Street, Beeston with Samuel working as a lace curtain designer and draughtsman3. By 1911, however, the family had moved to 234 Haydn Road, Sherwood, Nottingham with Samuel continuing to work as a lace curtain draughtsman and Wilfred, now age 20, working as a lithographic designer4.

On 21 July 1914, Wilfred married Dorothy Mary Alice Steward, the daughter of Frederick Charles & Anna Alicia Steward who had lived at 8 Newton Street, a few doors away from the Mosley family when they had lived in Beeston. Frederick was a long-time employee of Beeston Foundry, serving as its cashier from 1894 until his retirement in 1922. For some reason, perhaps an employment opportunity, Wilfred and Dorothy had moved to live at Bushey in Hertfordshire by July 1915, when their daughter, Dorothy Lois, was born5.

As a newly married man, it is perhaps understandable that Wilfred was not amongst those who enlisted so enthusiastically in the early months of the war. By 1916, however, the number of men volunteering for service was diminishing and was not meeting the relentless demand from the Western Front and the Government was looking for ways to fill the gap. The Derby Scheme, which introduced canvassing for volunteers had still not persuaded the required numbers and the Military Service Act was now enacted which meant that all single men aged between 18 and 41 (with some exceptions) would be automatically conscripted with married men not included in this requirement until May. It appears that Wilfred enlisted accordingly, in July 1916, initially joining 11th Battalion Notts & Derbys Regiment6, which had been engaged on the Western Front since August 1915.

Although it is not known when Wilfred was posted to France, it would be after his initial training in England and is unlikely to have been before the Spring of 1917. The couple's second child, Ronald Vivian Mosley, born in October 1917, for some unknown reason, in Sunderland7, is a poignant indication of this timing. And, the choice of their son's middle name was significant too - Wilfred's youngest brother, Vivian Spencer Mosley, who enlisted with the Grenadier Guards in the early days of the war, had been killed in action in October 19158.

Neither do we know the timing of Wilfred's transfer to the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment or his promotion to Lance Corporal. He may well have been with them when they faced the horrors of Passchendaele and took part in the early successes of new techniques used in the Cambrai Operations, during 1917.

At the beginning of March 1918 the 1st Lincolnshires, as part of 62nd Infantry Brigade of 21st Division, were in the line at Vaucelette Farm, on the Somme just north of Epéhy. Enemy positions had been strangely quite and there was a general belief that a major German attack was to be expected at any time Then, on 21st March, the German Army launched its Spring Offensive from the Hindenburg Line with the objective of ending the war before American troops and resources could tilt the balance towards the Allies. The objective was to smash through the Allied lines, push the British forces into the sea and to cut off their supply lines by seizing the ports. The German advance was preceded, starting at 4am, by a very heavy bombardment which included gas shells. The advancing attack began to gain ground, forcing the battalion Headquarters to evacuate but, overall the various companies were able to hold out with great determination against strong attacks. At about 3am the next day they was relieved by a South African Battalion. On the next day, they took part in a planned and orderly retirement to a new line, but closely followed by the enemy. Sadly, the "dog-tired" men found the new position ill prepared with trenches only a foot deep in places and generally with little cover. On the 23rd, orders came for a further retirement of about 2000 yards which involved strong rear-guard fighting and heavy casualties. About 40 men under their Captain were able to held the line in front of Bouchavegnes during the night, while the rest of the battalion spent the night near Maricourt. Over the next few days, the severely depleted battalions within 62nd Brigade were reorganised into workable units and, on the 27th, were relieved by the Australians and moved into billets at a brewery west of Beaucourt on the 28th. After further reorgnisation, moves and changes of plan, the battalion arrived in billets in Bourdon on the 31st March9.

On April 1st, the battalion left Bourdon and after a slow and tedious train journey, completed by bus, it arrived at Ramillies Camp, Kemmel at about 3am the next morning. The next day was spent absorbing new drafts, reorganising and replacing kit and equipment that had been lost in battle and, on the 4th, after a thank-you from the General, they moved to the front line where they relieved 6th Battalion Australian Infantry. There followed two relatively quiet days with very little shelling. Although, on both days, no casualties are recorded in the diary, it is on the 6th that Lance Corporal Mosley is recorded as killed in action.

As his body was never identified, Lance Corporal Mosley is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing within the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery of that name. The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defence and liberation of Belgium during the war. On the forward slope of the Passchendaele Ridge is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. The cemetery and its surrounding memorial are located outside of Passchendaele, near Zonnebeke in Belgium. The Cross of Sacrifice is to be found in a central position in the cemetery, at the base of the cross a small patch of the original German Block House can still be seen, contained within a bronze wreath, while on the far side, between it and the memorial wall, is a collection of some 300 graves. These are the original battle-field burials left where they were found after the Armistice. The other some nearly 12,000 graves which stand in parade ground order, were brought in from the surrounding area after the Armistice. The stone wall surrounding the cemetery makes up the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. On completion of the Menin Gate memorial to the missing in Ypres, it was discovered that it was too small to contain all the names that were originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 15th August was chosen and the names of the UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial instead. The memorial contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces and a further 1,176 New Zealanders10.

Lance Corporal Mosley was posthumously awaited the Victory Medal and the British Medal11. His Army financial effects of 11 1s 10d were paid to his widow on 1 August 1918 and she also received his War Gratuity of 8 on 10 December 191912. In addition to his entry on the memorial in Beeston Parish Church (which wrongly names him as 'W L Morley'), he is remembered on memorial plaques in St John the Evangelist Church in Carrington, Nottingham and in Chelsea Street Baptist Church in Basford, Nottingham13. All four sons of Samuel & Rose served during the war. As we have seen, both Wilfred and Vivian were killed. Bernal enlisted in 1915, probably under the Derby Scheme, was placed in the Reserve before rejoining with the Grenadier Guards in May 1916. He was declared 'Missing' on 13 April 1918 - only 8 days after Wilfred - but was found to be held as a prisoner of war. He returned to civilian life and to his wife Florence, in September 1919. He died in 1958. Claude served with the Derbyshire Yeomanry in Egypt, survived the war and died in the Nottingham area in 1970.

Wilfred's widow, Dorothy Mary Mosley, returned to the Nottingham area to bring up her two children, helped by her own and her late husband's families. In 1939, her daughter Dorothy Lois married Herbert Arthur House and set up home at 9 Clandon Drive, Carrington, Nottingham where they were to live out their respective live, she dying in 1979 and he in 1993. At the beginning of the 2nd World War, Ronald Vivian was working in Coventry for the Air Ministry as an aeronautical inspector, overseeing part of the massive drive to produce aircraft that was then in progress there and elsewhere. He died in 2002. In September 1939, Dorothy Mary herself was recorded living alone at 7 Yew Tree Avenue, Carrington, Nottingham while undertaking war work - possibly as War Reserve Police Woman Constable. She died in May 1968 in Nottingham after much of her life being dominated by war and its effects14.


Footnotes
1The photograph of the Tyne Cot Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District in Q4/1890 (Ref 7b 173)
3Beeston, Notts, 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 74
4Sherwood, Notts, 1911 Census, Piece 20640 RD430 SD5 ED7 Schedule 226
Wilfred's siblings were Bernal (1889-1958), Claude Owen (1892-1970), Vivian Spencer (1893-1915) and Rose Edna (1902-1973).
5Dorothy Lois was born on 28 July 1915 (Date recorded on 1939 Registration), probably at her parents' home in Bushey, Hertfordshire. The birth was registered in Watford Registration District in Q3/1915 (Ref 3a 1519).
6His enlistment date has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity. His place of enlistment and attachment to 11th Battalion Notts & Derby Regiment (as No. 52144) are recorded as part of his entry in 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.
7Ronald Vivian was born on 20 October 1917 (Birth date recorded on his death registration). His birth was recorded in Sunderland Registration District in Q4/1917 (Ref 10a 1112). Although we have no documentary proof, it is perhaps possible that Wilfred was serving in coastal defences in that area before being sent to France.
8Vivian had landed in France with 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards on 1 October 1914. He was killed in action on 14 October 1915 (Details from his Medal Card in ancestry.com) 9The account of the battalion's deployment during March and April 1918 is based on an account for March 2018 (the original diary entries having been lost during the battle) included in its war diary and the diary itself for April (available at ancestry.com).
10This description of the Tyne Cot Memorial is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
11Details from Wilfred's entry in the Medal Rolls - available on ancestry.com.
12Details of the payments are from the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.
13These may be seen on the Nottinghamshire County Council Roll of Honour (www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/rollofhonour/WarMemorials)
14Family details are from standard genealogical sources, including the September 1939 Registration.

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