MOORE John Patrick 1897 – 1916


23829 Lance Serjeant John Patrick Moore, 14th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 18 September 1916, aged 19.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France[1] and on the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

John Patrick Moore was born 1897,[2] at Woodside, near Witton Park, the son of James and Mary Moore.  There were at least 8 children:[3]

  • James born 1890 at Witton Gilbert
  • Mary Ann bc.1891 at Witton Park
  • Lawrence bc.1895 at Woodside
  • John Patrick born 1897 at Woodside
  • Richard bc.1899 at Witton Park
  • Catherine bc.1901 at Woodside
  • Dan bc.1903 at Woodside
  • Sarah Ann bc.1907 at Langley Moor

In 1901, the family lived at Woodside where James senior worked as a coal miner (hewer).[4]  By 1911, the family lived at Low King Street, Witton Park.  By this time, 48 years old James was disabled and unable to work, 16 years old Lawrence and 14 years old John Patrick worked as coal miners.  Their older brother James lodged at Langley Bridge, near Durham where he too worked as a coal miner. [5]

It is believed that John’s older brother served as 48896 Sergeant James Moore, 19 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, and died in 1920, aged 30, having served the duration of the war.  It is believed that he is buried in Bishop Auckland (Escomb) cemetery and died of war related injuries or influenza. 

Military Details

The service details of Lance Serjeant John P. Moore have not been traced.  He enlisted at Durham and was posted to the Durham Light Infantry, 14th Battalion and was allocated the service number 23829.[6]

DLI Cap Badge

The 14th (Service) Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was formed in Newcastle in September 1914 as part of K3, Kitchener’s New Army and came under the orders of the 64th Brigade, 21st Division.  It is likely that he was posted to training stations at Aylesbury, Halton Park, High Wycombe then back to Halton Park before being sent to France and the Western Front.[7]  The 21st Division landed at Boulogne, France, 11 September 1915.  After taking part in the opening exchanges at the Battle of Loos, 25 September – 8 October 1915 and suffering heavily, the battalion was relieved 27 September.  The 21st Division moved north, out of the battle, reaching billets at Fletre, 2 October 1915.[8] 

Private J.P. Moore landed in France 8 October 1915, as a draft to replace those lost at Loos in order to reinforce the battalion strength.[9]

28 November 1915, 14/DLI was transferred to the 18th Brigade, 6th Division.[10]  In 1916, the 18th Brigade consisted of the following units:[11]

  • 1st Bn., West Yorkshire Regiment throughout the war
  • 2nd Bn., Durham Light Infantry throughout the war
  • 11th Bn., The Essex Regiment from 27 October 1915
  • 14th Bn., Durham Light Infantry from 28 November 1915
  • 18th Brigade Machine Gun Company formed in February 1916, left for 6th MG Battalion 1 March 1918
  • 18th Trench Mortar Battery, formed 16 April 1916

14/DLI saw action at the Battle of the Somme in a number of phases including 15 to 22 September, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.  Private J.P. Moore was killed in action 18 September during this engagement.[12]  The following will address the circumstances surrounding Private J. P. Moore’s death.

The Battle of the Somme 1 July – 18 November 1916 [13]

The Battle of the Somme was viewed as a breakthrough battle, as a means of getting through the formidable German trench lines and into a war of movement and decision.  Political considerations and the demands of the French High Command influenced the timing of the battle.  They demanded British diversionary action to occupy the German Army to relieve the hard pressed French troops at Verdun, to the south. 

General Sir Douglas Haig, appointed Commander-in-Chief in December 1915, was responsible for the overall conduct of British Army operations in France and Belgium.  This action was to be the British Army’s first major offensive on the Western Front in 1916 and it was entrusted to General Rawlinson’s Fourth Army to deliver the resounding victory.  The British Army included thousands of citizen volunteers, keen to take part in what was expected to be a great victory.

The main line of assault ran nearly 14 miles from Maricourt in the south to Serre to the north, with a diversionary attack at Gommecourt 2 miles further to the north.  The first objective was to establish a new advanced line on the Montauban to Pozieres Ridge.   

The first day, 1 July, was preceded by a week-long artillery bombardment of the German positions.  Just prior to zero-hour, the storm of British shells increased and merged with huge mine explosions to herald the infantry attack – at 7.30am on a clear midsummer’s morning the British Infantry emerged from their trenches and advanced in extended lines at a slow steady pace over the grassy expanse of a No Man’s Land.  They were met with a hail of machine gun fire and rifle fire from the surviving German defenders.  Accurate German artillery barrages smashed into the infantry in No Man’s Land and the crowded assembly trenches – the British suffered enormous casualties:

  • Officers killed 993
  • Other Ranks killed: 18,247
  • Total Killed: 19,240
  • Total casualties (killed, wounded and missing): 57,470

In popular imagination, the “Battle of the Somme” has become a byword for military disaster.  In the calamitous opening 24 hours the British Army suffered its highest number of casualties in a single day.  The loss of great numbers of men from the same towns and villages had a profound impact on those at home. The first day was an abject failure and the following weeks and months of conflict assumed the nature of wearing-down warfare, a war of attrition, by the end of which both the attackers and defenders were totally exhausted.     

The Battle of the Somme can be broken down into 12 offensive operations:

  • Albert: 1 – 13 July
  • Bazantin Ridge: 14 – 17 July
  • Delville Wood: 15 July – 13 September
  • Pozieres Ridge: 15 July – 3 September
  • Guillemont: 23 July – 3 September
  • Ginchy: 9 September
  • Flers-Courcelette: 15 – 22 September
  • Morval: 25 – 28 September
  • Thiepval: 25 – 28 September
  • Le Transloy: 1 – 18 October
  • Ancre Heights: 1 October – 11 November
  • Ancre: 13 – 18 November

Adverse weather conditions i.e. the autumn rains and early winter sleet and snow turned the battlefield into morass of mud.  Such intolerable physical conditions helped to bring to an end Allied offensive operations after four and a half months of slaughter.  The fighting brought no significant breakthrough.  Territorial gain was a strip of land approximately 20 miles wide by 6 miles deep, at enormous cost. British and Commonwealth forces were calculated to have 419,654 casualties (dead, wounded and missing) of which some 131,000 were dead.  French casualties amounted to 204,253.  German casualties were estimated between 450,000 to 600,000. In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.

The 6th Division in action at the Battle of Flers-Corcelette and Morval

11 September 1916:  The 6th Division took over the front east of Guillemont.[14]  The History of the 6th Division records: [15]

“The Division had taken part as a whole in 3 general attacks on the Somme (15th and 25th September and 12th October) and had also carried out subordinate operations on the 13th and 18th September and the 18th October.  It has suffered casualties amounting to 277 officers and 6,640 other ranks and had well earned a rest.”

The 6th Division suffered 7,430 casualties between 5 August and 23 October 1916 during its tour of the Somme. [16]

15 September, the 16th and 71st Brigades were involved on an attack on a strong point named, “The Quadrilateral” [17] then 18 September, the 6th and 18th Brigade took the Quadrilateral.  14/DLI cleared the dugouts in the sunken road beyond.[18] 

14th Bn., DLI in action at Flers-Courcelette  [19]

The British battlefront extended from the region of Leuze Wood, east of Guillemont to the vicinity of Martinpuich. 

12 September: 6am, general bombardment of the German lines began.  14/DLI moved up from Sand Pit Valley to the Citadel, south of Fricourt.  Later in the day, the 18th Brigade rushed into the Quadrilateral from the flanks and 2/DLI entered a trench called Low Road, bombed it down for 100 yards and held on.  At night 14/DLI were sent forward from Guillemont to consolidate a position where the railway crossed the Ginchy-Leuze Wood road.  The trenches were full of dead and wounded Norfolks and Suffolks.

13 September: dawn patrols sent out to locate troops on the flanks.  Further fighting to the north where the Guards attacked Lesboeufs.  14/DLI began work on an assembly trench in front of their position for another attempt upon the Quadrilateral.

14 September: early morning, heavy enemy barrage, counter attack expected, did not happen, resumed work on the trench.

15 September: work on another assembly trench 70 yards further forward.  24 men were wounded before the actual attack started.

18 September: intense bombardment of the German positions by the British artillery.  Rain began to fall.  At 5.50am, 14/DLI climbed out of the wet trenches and plodded forward following the creeping barrage.  On the right and the centre, the line made good progress but on the left, “German machine-gunners maintained a galling fire”.  Rifle grenades were used and the machine guns were soon in British hands.  The Straight and the Quadrilateral were taken, the advance pressed on.  North of the railway, 14/DLI bombed out dug-outs and reached the forward slope in view of Morval.  The battalion dug in.  The expected enemy infantry counter attack did not materialise but German gunners opened fire on the new positions.  At night, the whole brigade was relieved and 14/DLI reached billets at Meaulte, the following day.  4 officers and 31 men killed, 4 officers and 161 men wounded and 32 men missing.  106 unwounded Germans had been captured and 6 machine guns.

The battle continued until 29 September.  During the evening, 14/DLI arrived at billets in Meaulte and the focus of the Somme offensive moved to the north and the Battle of Thiepval.  Later research records that between 12 and 30 September 1916, 14/DLI lost 5 officers and 109 Other Ranks, 18 September being the bloodiest day with the loss of 4 officers and 69 other ranks including Private J.P. Moore. [20]

Awards and Medals

23829 Lance Serjeant John Patrick Moore was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory and British War medals.[21]

Medal Roll Card Index


John P. Moore’s mother and father received his effects and pension.[22]


23829 Lance Serjeant John Patrick Moore, 14th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 18 September 1916, aged 19.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, France.[23]

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme
The Tribute


John was born at Woodside and was one of James and Mary Moore’s large family who lived in the Witton Park area 4 Thompson Street in 1891, then Woodside, 24 and 72 Low King Street.  Their father who had also been a miner was disabled by 1911.  His sons were coal miners working locally.  John enlisted into the 14th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry and entered France in October 1915.  He was promoted to Lance Serjeant (spelling used at the time) and was killed in action 18 September 1916 at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, a phase of the Battle of the Somme.  He was 19 years old and single.

It is believed that John’s brother, serving as 48896 Sergeant James Moore, Royal Garrison Artillery survived the war only to die in 1920 and he is also commemorated on the Witton Park memorials.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.198 Auckland 1897 Q1

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[7] Table IV – Service Table

[8]  “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18: The Service Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry” 1920 Capt. W. Miles p.24

[9] Medal Roll card index



[12] CWGC

[13] Various sources – “The Somme” P. Hart,  www.cwgc/somme, “The Somme: the day by day account” C. McCarthy

[14] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18: The Service Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry” 1920 Capt. W. Miles p.74

[15] “A Short History of the Sixth Division” edited by Major General T.O. Marden

[16] Marden Appendix 1

[17] “The Somme Day by Day Account” 1993 Chris McCarthy p.100

[18] McCarthy p.111

[19] Miles p.74 – 78.

[20] Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War

[21] Medal Roll card index and Rolls dated 17 October 1919 and 23 April 1920

[22] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 Record No.371126 and Dependant’s Pension card index

[23] CWGC