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Wilfred was born at 1 Barlow Street in Preston and was baptised at St. Thomas` Church in the town on the 24th December 1894. His parents John and Ellen Moon (nee Hooten/Hooton) married in St. Luke`s Church in Preston on the 27th April 1893 and according to the marriage record Wilfred`s father was a widower when he married Ellen (first wife unknown). Wilfred had four brothers and two sisters; Henry (1895), John Redvers (1900), Joanna (1901), Thomas Clifford (1904-1917), Gladys Alice (1906) and Stanley (1909).

By 1901 the family had moved into 55 St. Stephen`s Road in Preston, Wilfred`s father, according to the Census record, was originally from Eccleston and a cloth tailor by trade, the Census record of that year also shows the birthplace of his mother as Manchester. By 1911 the Moon family had moved house again, this time to 22 Goldfinch Street in Preston, Wilfred`s father was a tailor`s cutter and Wilfred was a grocer`s assistant whilst his brother Henry was an apprentice printer. Also in the household was Joanna Moon, aged 42, employed at the Gold Thread Works in Preston as a gold and silver drawer.

Wilfred enlisted on the 7th September 1914 at Preston, his papers confirming his pre-war employment as a shop assistant. He also confirmed that he was unmarried and had no previous military experience. At his medical inspection the Medical Officer noted that Wilfred was 5`11” tall and that he weighed 136lbs. He had a 36” chest, black hair and dark grey eyes. Wilfred was posted to the 7th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, joining “D” Company (Preston Pals) with the service number 13218. For official purposes Wilfred named his mother Ellen Moon of 22 Goldfinch Street, Preston as his next of kin.

The 7th Battalion LNL came under the Command of 56th Brigade in the 19th Division and the stations allotted to the 19th Division were Tidworth, Bulford and Swindon. The following photograph was printed by the Preston Guardian on the 21st November 1914 showing “D” Company (Preston Pals) at Tidworth;

Photo of `D` Company, 7th Battalion (Preston Pals) taken on the 21 November, 1914 at Tidworth.

The 7th Battalion embarked for France crossing from Folkestone on the 17th July 1915 and landing in Boulogne, the strength of the 7th Battalion being 30 Officers and 900 other ranks. Wilfred, considering his young age and having no previous military experience was obviously very well thought of by his superiors because by the 9th August 1915 he had been appointed Lance Corporal (unpaid) and then three months later on the 8th November 1915 he was promoted to Corporal. In January 1916 Wilfred was commended for an act of gallantry which in the routine orders of General Sir Charles Munro, K.C.B. dated 11th February 1916 is the note; –

Following on from that on the 3rd February 1916 he was appointed Lance Sergeant (paid) and then promoted to Sergeant on the 15th March 1916. A week after his promotion Wilfred was allotted a short period of leave; 23/2/16 – 1/3/16.

When the Battle of the Somme began on the 1st July 1916 the 7th Battalion LNL, being part of the 19th Division, moved to the USNA TARA line near ALBERT where they were put into the reserve. They were meant to be involved in the attack at OVILLERS at 5 p.m. on the first day but that was cancelled 15 minutes before they were due to go over the top.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

1st July 1916 8 a.m. Left intermediate line for the USNA-TARA Line in reserve to the 8th Division. Captain Leverson wounded.

3 p.m. – Battalion moved to old British front line preparatory to attack on OVILLERS from north-west; attack to take place at 5 p.m.

4.45 p.m. – Message received, attack cancelled. C.O. summoned to 25th Brigade, 8th Division Headquarters at once. Battalion then placed in reserve trenches as reserve for 25th Brigade till dawn. About twenty five casualties.

On the 2nd July the Battalion was relieved and went back to the railway cutting near Albert, where they spent the day and part of the following night in a field. At 3 a.m. on the morning of the 3rd July they were again on the move, going up to the USNA-TARA Line on the right of the main Albert-Pozieres road. The Battalion remained here until night, being in support to the 7th Royal Lancaster Regiment which was then in the old German front-line trench.

At 1 a.m. on the 4th July the Battalion was sent to the trench line around La Boisselle which, according to the Battalion History was “very much knocked about and full of dead” – and it was here at 8 a.m. fighting was renewed.

The Battalion War Diary continues;

4th July 8.30 a.m. Three companies sent up at intervals during the morning to help. Heavy bombing in the village of La Boisselle. Lieutenant Hughes did very well with Lewis guns. Lieut. L. Milbourne and the bombing sergeant were both killed. Towards dusk it became quieter.

10 p.m. – our line heavily shelled; about 40 – 50 prisoners came through our line.

Sadly, this was where Sergeant Wilfred Moon`s war ended, his date of death given as 4th July 1916. It`s very likely he was the bombing sergeant referred to in the Battalion War Diary.

Although some of Wilfred`s service papers still exist, there is nothing in them to suggest that any of his personal possessions were returned to his family in Preston. Wilfred`s body was never recovered from the battlefield where he fell and as such he has no known grave, his name was later inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme.

After the war his family would take receipt of the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and they would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Additional family information

292080 Gunner Henry a.k.a Harry Moon, 125th Bty. R.G.A.

Pre-war Harry was working as a printers apprentice, he was unmarried and living at 22 Goldfinch Street in Preston. His service papers no longer exist but the lack of an embarkation date on his Medal Index Card indicates that he went to France after January 1916. Sadly, Harry died on the 27th September 1917. The Lancashire Daily Post made a brief report on his death;

He was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals which his family would receive together with his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Harry was buried with honour in Bard Cottage Cemetery in Belgium.

For some reason Harry`s name does not appear on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library, however, his brother Wilfred`s name was recorded (pictured below).

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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