John Moore was a market gardener in Saxlingham Nethergate. He and his wife Mary Ann had nine children, seven of whom survived. The family came to live in Saxlingham Nethergate in 1897 from Wreningham. Thomas and his older brother Frederick were enrolled in the local school in 1897. Thomas is recorded as leaving the school in 1904 aged 14 years old.
Thomas was the youngest of his family. He had four brothers and two sisters. William was born in 1878, John in 1880, Maria in 1883, Robert in 1885, Frederick in 1887 and Mary in 1889. Thomas was born in October 1890 in Fundenhall, Norfolk.
At the beginning of the war Thomas was working for his father as a market gardener. John, his father was recorded in the 1901 Census as being near sighted and his wife Mary Ann as being blind. The 1911 Census recorded Mary Ann as having been blind for 18 years, which means she lost her sight when she was only about 39 years old.
At the beginning of the war many men from Saxlingham volunteered to join the army but Thomas was not one of these. As the war progressed and the reality of the situation dawned on people the number of men joining fell. Conscription was introduced in January 1916. All single men aged between 18 and 41 years were to be called up unless they were widowed with children or were ministers of religion. Although married men were originally exempt this was changed in June 1916 and the upper age limit extended to 51 years.
When a man was called up he could lodge an appeal with a local Military Service Tribunal to be exempt from service. The results of these tribunals were printed in the local paper although the names of the people involved were not included.
The following report was printed in the Eastern Daily Press on February 26th 1916 and although he is not named it is presumed because of the content that it is referring to Thomas Charles Moore.
A market gardener at Saxlingham Nethergate applied for the exemption of his son, who is his sole helper on a market garden of 7acres. The father said he had lost an eye and his other was very weak, his wife was totally blind and he had an invalid daughter. He had four married sons who had families and responsibilities of their own. This young man was the only single man in the family.
Captain Blofield thought this was a case for female labour. Several members expressed strong sympathy with the applicant but the Tribunal felt themselves bound to refuse exemption.
Thomas was therefore conscripted into the army and joined the Royal Field Artillery. Before he went he married Ethel Maria Fenn at Saxlingham Nethergate Church in April 1916. In 1911 she had been working in Norwich as a nurse maid.
His service records do not survive, but it is known that he later transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment ( Royal Canadians). On 23rd April 1918 they became part of 88th Brigade in 29th Division and were involved in the big push in Flanders during the month of October 1918. The troops were involved in the Battle of Courtrai which took place between 14th and 19th October. The village of Harlebeke was taken on the night 19th-20th October 1918. Thomas was killed on Saturday 19th October 1918 aged 28 years old and so it is presumed that it was during this battle. He is buried in Harlebeke New British Cemetery which contains the graves of over 1000 men.
Thomas must have been on leave, or recuperating from wounds, in Saxlingham in the Summer or early Autumn of 1918 because Ethel Maria Moore had a son who was born on 4th May 1919. She called him Thomas Charles Moore. She continued to live in Saxlingham Nethergate in Back Cottages, The Street. She died in 1954 aged 61 years old. Her son Thomas Charles Moore at the time of her death was working as a postman.
Census records: 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
UK soldiers who died in the Great War 1914-18
Papers from Saxlingham Nethergate Church Chest now deposited at Norfolk Record Office
Eastern Daily Press: February 26th 1916