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John Moss was born on 24 November 1898 in Cuerden and baptised at St Saviour’s in Bamber Bridge on 8 January 1899.  His father was Richard Moss (b. 1864 in Penwortham), a cotton weaver.  His mother was Mary Ellen Harrison (b. 1870 in Farington).  Richard and Mary Ellen were married in Penwortham on Christmas Eve 1887 and they had 6 children, though one died in infancy.  The surviving children were: Thomas (b. 1889), William (b. 1891), Jane Alice (b. 1896), Elizabeth (b. 1897) and finally John.  In 1911, the family was living at 342 Station Road, Bamber Bridge.  Mary Ellen had gone back to work as a warper in a mill, and John, aged 12, was part-time school and mill.

Staggering though it may sound, John enlisted on 1 September 1914.  He was 15 years old, though he claimed that day was his 19th birthday!  His papers have survived and his medical report says he was 5’ 3¾” tall, had a 34” chest and weighed 112lbs – hardly big for his age even by the standards of the time.  He joined the Loyals and was assigned service number 12783 and was posted to 6th Battalion.

John embarked for Gallipoli with his Battalion on 15 June 1915 (he was still only 16 years old).  The records are incomplete but it seems he was wounded at Gallipoli and was evacuated back to England on 2 October.  He spent the following year in England recovering from his wounds and was posted back, this time to join 6Bn in Mesopotamia, on 23 October 1916, arriving in Basra just before Christmas.  He was with the Battalion therefore when they began their advance on the Turkish forces in February 1917, resulting in the capture of Baghdad on 11 March.  Operations ended in April as it was impossible to fight in the torrid conditions of the summer.  John was promoted Lance Corporal on 6 June 1917 (he had now turned 18).  Further advances were made in the winter of 1917-18, and in April 1918 the Battalion was in action on the Persian border where some local tribes had been stirred into action by German propaganda.  In May, the Bn was with the forces who occupied Kirkuk, the Turks having previously withdrawn.  The war against the Turks was now all but over and in June – August the Bn were in camp at Khalis.  During this period John had some machine-gun training and was briefly attached to 38 M.G.C.I. but on 17 August he was taken to hospital in Baghdad, dangerously ill with malaria.  He developed otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear) which, in the days before antibiotics, led to a brain abscess, from which he died on 1 September 1918.  Four years to the day since he enlisted.  He was 19 years old.

In October the Bn moved to Abu Saida on the right bank of the Diyala River and it was here that they received news on 1 November of the armistice with Turkey.

Rank:  Lance Corporal
Service Number:  12783
Date of Death:  01/09/1918
Age:  19
Regiment/Service:  The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 6th Bn

Bill Brierley

Before taking early retirement in 2007 and returning to his native Lancashire in 2009, Bill Brierley was head of the School of Languages and Area Studies at the University of Portsmouth.Bill has researched his own family history and has developed a further interest in World War 1 especially as it impacted on the villages of Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, where his family originates from.Bill has also displayed his work at Lostock Hall library and contributed to other displays at Leyland Library and South Ribble Museum.
Bill Brierley

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