Jack Moss was born on September 20th 1894 at Biddulph. He was the son of William James Moss and Elizabeth née Crompton. In the 1901 census the family are living at 2, Cromwell Street, Biddulph. Father William is 38 and a coal miner, born in Bosley and his mother Elizabeth is from Kidsgrove. There are six children at home; George 14, Sarah eleven, James ten, Myles nine, Jack six and Emma just ten months. All the children have been born in Biddulph.
The 1911 census reveals that William and Elizabeth have been married for 21 years and have had seven children, six of whom are still alive. Jack and his older brothers are all employed as colliers and the family are still living at 2, Cromwell Street.
Jack was a keen footballer playing for both Mossley and Congleton clubs. He enlisted at Biddulph in September 1914, joining the 8th battalion North Staffordshire Regiment. His name is recorded in the Congleton Chronicle as Jack Moss of 37, Station Road. He would have been aged 20 at enlistment.
As one of the early recruits Jack would have travelled by bus from Biddulph to Stoke Town Hall where, according to the Chronicle (September 1914) “they were given a civic reception and then billeted at a local hotel (the Talbot, Wheatsheaf or Glebe) until the Wednesday when they went by train to Lichfield to join the North Staffordshire Battalion”.
This battalion trained on Salisbury Plain before moving to their winter billets at Bristol. February 1915 saw a move to Weston-super-Mare then to Perham Down Camp, Andover and Tidworth for their final preparation and attachment to the 57th Brigade, 19th Division in April.
King George V inspected the division on June 23rd, and soon after on July 17th the division were ordered to ready for embarking to France. However Jack’s medal card records his date of entry as August 25th 1915, so for some reason there was a delay of over a month. The first action involving the 8th North Staffords was in October at Pietie, being used in a supporting role during the Battle of Loos.
Through the winter and into Spring 1916 the 19th Division defended their lines in the area, until ordered to the Somme district. During the coming battle in July the battalion were in action in the Albert offensive where they successfully captured La Boisselle in a bitter fight with the loss of many brave soldiers. Pushing forward they again came up against heavy enemy resistance whilst attacking High Wood. The Somme battle continued into August with actions on Pozieres Ridge and the Ancre Heights.
The Battle of the Somme continued until late November. By then Jack had lost many of his good pals from Biddulph: Jonathan Barlow, Joseph Evenson, Harry Bailey, Arthur Lacey and Harold Simpson, all brave men who had fallen in the past months. During the winter of 1916-17 the ground and weather deteriorated bringing the war to a slow pace. The men had to endure unbelievable living, sleeping and fighting conditions on a frozen and wet battlefield that Winter. Nevertheless always looking forward to their breakfast being brought up, a bread ration of four men to a loaf and hopefully a Dixie of strew to warm them.
The spring of 1917 found the division still defending the front line until early summer when the 8th Battalion were ordered north into the Ypres salient. The 19th Division were south of the ruined town of Ypres fighting on high ground in the Messines area, where 19 enormous deep mines were detonated prior to the successful battle at Messines. The division were again in action in September on the Menin Road Ridge. A bombardment had preceded the attack on the morning of the 20th when a heavy mist had covered an eight mile front. It was here that another gallant local soldier died. Private Jack Moss, on his twenty-third birthday, fell on the field of battle. This was September 20th 1917.
In a letter to his parents, an officer wrote, “Your son, Jack, was very popular in the company and is very much missed. He always did his duty and was a splendid soldier”.
Jack has no known grave and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He is also remembered on the Biddulph memorials.
Michael Turnock and Kathleen Walton.