Spare a thought for poor Herbert Charles Moore. Born in 1899, he was clearly quite a bright lad. He went to St Polycarps primary, followed by West Street School then finally Farnham Grammar. While not a lot of school for these days, it certainly is for the people I’m currently researching.
Herb (as he was known) left school and slipped into a job at the Army Audit Office in Aldershot. It was here that he found out about the possibility of becoming a Wireless Operator.
Not being shy to speculate on these sort of things, I think it’s not altogether impossible that Herb saw an excellent way to do his bit for the war while remaining relatively safe. As a wireless operator, he could slip into a civilian position on the edge of combat as well as have a future career.
It also seems that he had a strong desire to go to sea. According to the newspaper that wrote up his obituary, he had wanted to go to sea since early childhood. What better than to get a job as a wireless operator aboard a transport ship.
He applied to the British School of Telegraphy and was accepted, beginning his studies in August 1916. He took to the dots and dashes like he was born into the Morse family and graduated with his Postmaster General’s Certificate (first class) the following July.
Realising what a gem they had in Herb, the Marconi Company immediately snapped him up and sent him off to his first posting.
At this stage, Herb’s History gets a bit hazy. According to the newspaper obituary, the Captain’s report on what happened is somewhat sketchy…to say the least.
He was happily serving aboard some naval transport when he fell down a hold then died of his injuries. His parents were neither told when or where he died or, in fact, where he was buried. According to the newspaper, they were only told he’d died.
Now, after a lot of research, I have uncovered what happened to young Herb.
He was serving aboard the merchant ship, Harlem as the sole wireless operator when he fell down No 4 hold. His injuries were extensive and he died on Christmas Day, 1917. He was then buried in Egypt, in the British Protestant Cemetery in Alexandria. His gravestone is still there.
While it’s great that I can close the file on Herb, it does still beg the question of how he fell down the hold. Was he pushed? Did he trip? Was the sea restless and just washed him into the open hold? Was it a Christmas jape gone wrong?
I guess these questions will never be answered. Still, it’s nice to know that Herbert Charles Moore is now a bit more than just initials and a surname on a memorial.