Robert (Bob) Moyse
Bob Moyse was born near Eccles Cross on 26 August 1890 into a local family of well known bare knuckle fighters and boxers. In his youth, Bob was a fine boxer, swimmer, gymnast and all-round athlete. When war was declared in the summer of 1914, he tried to enlist but was rejected due to having suffered from rheumatic fever. Bob was nothing if not persistent and after being rejected by the medical authorities, he joined the Lancashire Fusiliers. After completing his initial training, he was allocated to the 20th (Service) Battalion, (4th Salford Pals) whose HQ was at Pendleton Town Hall. He gained rapid promotion to Sergeant and passed out of the Aldershot Gym School gaining the crossed swords badge of a PT Instructor. After battalion level training in the summer of 1915 at Conway and Cholderton, the Battalion came under command of the 104th Brigade, part of the 35th Division and moved to Park House Camp, Salisbury to await embarkation. The 20th Battalion were called forward to embark at Southampton and landed at Le Havre on 30 January 1916. The Battalion went into the trenches for the first time on 27 February and received its first casualties on 17 March 1916. In April 1917, Sergeant Moyse was Mentioned in a Despatch from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig of 9th April 1917 for gallant and distinguished services in the Field. In October 1917, Bob was the Company Sergeant Major of ‘X’ Company and the Battalion were involved in operations in Flanders, around Boeshinghe, north of Ypres. On 22 October all four Companies were ordered to advance towards the hamlet of Koekuit to secure gaps in the line. ‘Y’ Company were ordered to raid a position, with ‘X’ Company operating in close support. During the raid, 2nd Lieutenant Parry of ‘X’ Company was killed leaving Bob Moyse in command. It was due to his actions during this raid that the Field Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief awarded CSM Moyse an immediate DCM, the citation states:
“for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on 22/24 October 1917 during an enemy counter-attack, he reorganised and led forward part of a Company which had become detached and with it filled a gap in the line. He held his ground under heavy fire and by his skilful dispositions and good leadership assisted in repelling the enemy’s attack”.
Bob was presented with the medal and the Croix-de-Guerre by the Mayor, Alderman Bethel, during a meeting of the Eccles Town Council. After the presentation, Bob remarked, to cheers from the Council, that he was proud to have done his little bit to winning the war. He added that he felt that he had been rewarded above his merits and that better men than himself had gone unrewarded.
Because of the shortage of manpower for the Armies in France, GHQ stated at the beginning of 1918 that it was impossible to maintain all the units in the field. The Army Council subsequently ordered that a large number of Battalions had to be broken up. The 20th Battalion was disbanded in Belgium on 16 February 1918 and Bob Moyse transferred to the Essex Regiment. Whilst serving with the 10th Service Battalion in August 1918, WO2 Moyse was decorated with the award of the Military Cross. The citation reads:
“for conspicuous gallantry and initiative on the 8th August 1918 when his Company Commander had become a casualty and, although wounded himself, he took command and led the company through a dense fog, machine gun and shell fire. In the mist they passed by a battery which opened fire on them with a machine gun. This Warrant Officer rushed it by himself capturing it and the battery of field guns, with one officer and twenty men. He was again severely wounded and had to be left behind as a prisoner but was recaptured the next day. He showed splendid leadership, courage and endurance”.
He received the award from King George V at an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 12 May 1920. Bob Moyse was also awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French authorities in November 1918.
Invalided from the Army sometime after 1918 due to the wounds he received in action, Bob Moyse served with the Territorial Force until taking his final discharge in 1928. He became a bookmaker with a pitch in Salfords dockland where he carried out many charitable acts. With the onset of the great depression he had the idea to create the DCM League which he founded in Manchester during 1931 to aid DCM holders in distress and to obtain them employment. Bob Moyse also joined the Legion of Frontiersmen and became a Lieutenant in that organisation eventually becoming the Commanding Officer of the Manchester Squadron whilst also helping to form squadrons at Salford and Liverpool. As a Frontiersman, he attended the funeral in Brussels of King Albert 1st of Belgium in 1934. For his service with the Legion he received the Legion Meritorious Service Medal. Bob did much to publicise the Legion of Frontiersmen and regularly printed news about them in the DCM League newsletters.
Bob eventually joined the Home Guard, serving on an Auxiliary Forces engagement with the 9th West Lancashire (Newton-le-Willows) Battalion at Culcheth. As the Acting CQMS, he was awarded the BEM in the Queens Birthday Honours of 1956, the citation reads:
“A/CQMS Robert Moyse of 483 Warrington Road, Culcheth, near Warrington, Lancashire was one of the earliest members of 9 WL (Newton-le-Willows) Bn, Home Guard. He at once threw himself wholeheartedly into the work of the unit, particularly directing his efforts to publicising the existence of the unit in his own district of Culcheth, which is very much an isolated portion of the Battalion area. He continued his efforts over three years, with scant success but without being is any way disheartened, and within the last year, his persistence has been rewarded by the addition from his area of 14 new recruits, bringing the strength of his Platoon up from 2 to 16. The recruits are all of first-class material having been personally vetted by CQMS Moyse before he would allow their names to come forward, and have proved a most valuable addition to the Battalion strength. This intake of recruits is quite extraordinary in the Battalion and indeed in most parts of West Lancs and is attributable directly to the hard work and outstanding personality of CQMS Moyse and his example of unselfish public work in this as well as many other directions”.
In later years, Bob regularly attended the Musters of the DCM League, on one occasion he accompanied the Princess Royal onto the dias to watch the parade. In June 1967 he was presented to the Duke of Kent who was attending his first Muster as Patron of the League. At the Muster Dinner, the members present signed a special scroll that had been prepared to mark the occasion and this was presented to the Duke of Kent. This highly decorated soldier died at Warrington on 20 May 1977 aged 87 and following a private ceremony, his ashes were scattered at Peel Green. In tribute to this son of Eccles, a commemorative plaque was placed at the cemetery in his honour.
The League are extremely grateful to ‘young Bob’, Malcom and Stephen Moyse for sharing much of this information relating to their courageous grandfather.