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John Edmondson Moncur was born in the first quarter of 1897 in Manchester, his birth being registered in the district of Barton Upon Irwell. He was christened in the church of St. Lawrence in Longridge a few weeks later on the 18th April 1897 by Roger and Mary Jane Moulding a married couple who lived in Longridge.

Roger Moulding married Mary Jane Holmes on the 12th November 1884 in Holy Trinity Church, Ulverston. Mary Jane was a Cumbrian by birth and Roger was originally from Inglewhite. For a while after their marriage the couple lived in Ulverston and a son Thomas was born there in 1885. By 1890 Roger and Mary Jane had another son Roger who was born that year and in 1891 the family lived at Little White Hill in Goosnargh. Sadly, a few weeks after the 1891 Census was taken one year old Roger died and he was buried at St. James` Church in Whitechapel near Longridge.

John Edmondson Moncur appears to have arrived in Longridge to live with Roger and Mary Jane Moulding when he was just three weeks old. Nothing is known about his parents. In 1899 another child, a boy, Reginald Leonard Carson was also taken in by Roger and Mary Jane. Reginald was born on the 11th July 1899 at 1 Taylor Street in Preston. He was also christened at St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge on the 30th August 1899 and the baptismal record names his father as Arthur Carson, a traveller and his mother as Agnes.

In 1901 Roger, Mary Jane and their 16 year old son Thomas together with John E. Moncur, aged 4 and Reginald L. Carson, aged 1 (the two young boys both described as `boarders`) were all living at 17 Chapel Hill in Longridge. Roger was working alongside his son Thomas in the local stone quarry works.

The family was still living in Chapel Hill in Longridge in 1911 but in this Census both John and Reginald are recorded under the surname of Moulding. Also appearing on this Census is a seven year old girl named Ethel who was born in Blackpool and she too has the surname Moulding.

John enlisted on the 3rd September 1914 at Preston under his birth name of Moncur and at the time he hadn`t reached his eighteenth birthday but he stated his age as being 19 years old.  He was issued with the service number 2320 and posted into the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was 5`5” tall and had a 34” chest and was described as being `well developed` physically. John was single and he had previously been working at the Poplar Foundry in Longridge.

John sailed to France with the main body of the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915. On the 15th June 1915 during the Battalion`s first major action at Festubert John was wounded and was admitted to 18 General Hospital with gun-shot wounds to his right leg and right hand. It is not known how long he was out of action for but at some point he returned to duty with his Battalion.

In late July 1916 the 55th (Western) Division was detailed to take part in the ongoing Somme battle. They took their place in the line on the night of the 30th July opposite the village of Guillemont, the plan being to capture the village (which had thus far proved to be a major sticking point) enabling further advance. On the night of the 8th August 1916, they assembled in trenches near Trones Wood in preparation for the attack. The attack was largely unsuccessful incurring a large number of casualties. After this failed attack the Division was relieved on the 14th-15th August and they moved back to the west of Abbeville to rest and refit.

Two strong drafts from the Manchester and East Lancashire Regiments, totalling 219 non-commissioned Officers and men arrived and the Battalion spent the rest period in billets in Saigneville and later at Millencourt. On the 7th September the Brigade was recalled to the front, and the Battalion marched from Fricourt to Montauban; here the sector of the front line taken over extended from the eastern edge of Delville Wood in the direction of Ginchy, the Battalion and the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers occupying the trenches. “B” and “C” Companies were in front with “A” Company in support.

Orders were received for an attack on the afternoon of the 9th September but sadly this is where John Moncur`s war would end.

Battalion History

At 16:45hrs on the 9th September 1916 the 1/4th Battalion was part of an attack launched by the XIV Corps. 164th Brigade (including B and C Companies of 1/4th LNL) were to attack and take a line of trenches than ran between Ginchy and Delville Wood. The plan was to `go over the top` and take Hop Alley and then Ale Alley. Hop Alley was taken but Ale Alley wasn`t reached due to the intensity of the enemy machine-gun fire. The attackers fell back to their original line.

The casualties were heavy, 24 men killed including Second Lieutenants W.E. Pyke and E.F. Falby. There were also 125 men wounded and a further 79 men missing, many were also later identified as having been killed.

The Moulding family had the following article with photograph published in the Preston Guardian after John`s death.2320 Private John Edmundson Moncur 1-4th Battalion

John`s body was never recovered from the battlefield where he fell and he has no known grave so his name was later remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme.

More tragedy was to strike Roger Moulding when his wife Mary Jane passed away in the December quarter of 1916 not long after their `adopted` son John had died. In 1919 Roger Moulding remarried to Rhoda Smith at a church in Lancaster and the couple went to live at Prospect Cottage in Hest Bank near Morecambe. In that same year Roger Moulding had to complete Army Form W.5080 in order to confirm his relationship to John Edmondson Moncur.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Roger Moulding later took receipt of John`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled in recognition of his service and sacrifice for his country.

John`s name was later recorded on the War Memorial Plaque in St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge, although his surname has been recorded as Moncar and not Moncur.St. Lawrence in Longridge

Rank: Private
Service No: 2320
Date of Death: 09/09/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, “A Coy”, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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