Private Frederick Arthur Moseley

Regiment: 12th (Service) (Bristol) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment
Service No.: 34417
Date and place of birth: 1st quarter, 1879 in Chithurst, Sussex
Date and place of death: 4 October 1917 (aged 38) at Broodseinde, near Ypres, Flanders

Frederick Moseley was the oldest casualty from Elsted & Treyford. A brickmaker by trade, he was a member of a long-established local family. Baptismal records show that Moseleys had lived in the village since at least 1851, and that a number of them were involved in brickmaking at Elsted and Ingrams Green brickyards.

Family background

Frederick Arthur Moseley was born at Chithurst in early 1879, the youngest of seven children of Charles Moseley (1837 – 1924) and his wife Betsy née Boxall (1842 – 1916).

Charles had been born in Iping and had married Betsy in her home village of Stedham on Boxing Day 1860. Their first child, also called Charles, was born early the following year, with six more children being born over the next 18 years.

At the time of the 1881 census, Charles and Betsy, with all seven children, were living at Minsted, where Charles senior and his eldest son were both employed as farm carters. Living next door were Charles’s parents, Charles and Mary Moseley.

Ten years later, the family had moved to Elsted Marsh; by this time, four of the children had left home. The eldest son, Charles, had moved to Stone in Kent, where he worked as a farm labourer. The two daughters were both in service: Esther (aged 22), was with John Mercer, confectioner, of North Street, Midhurst and Ellen (aged 18) with Jabez and Fanny Batty, who was the schoolmistress at Stedham. A son, Albert (aged 19) was working at Crowshole Farm, near Iping. Still living with their parents were three sons, Walter (aged 25), George (aged 15) and Frederick (shown as “Arthur”, aged 12). Also living with the family was a grandson, Percy, aged six months.

In 1901, the family were living at Station Road, Elsted Green, where Charles was shown as a farm labourer aged 65. Apart from Betsy, also living in the house were sons Albert and Frederick, described as a carter and brickmaker respectively, and three grandchildren, Percy (10), Florence (8) and Frederick (5), the children of Frederick’s unmarried sister, Esther. George had married Elizabeth Seal in 1898 and was now living with his wife and two daughters at The Cottage, Rotherhill in Stedham.

In about 1905, the family moved to one of the newly built farm cottages at New House Farm before moving to 11 Mill Cottages in Treyford in about 1910. At the 1911 census, Charles, now 73, was still working as a farm labourer as was 39 year old Albert. They both worked for the Mitchell family, who moved to New House Farm from Westmoreland in 1903.  Frederick was employed as a brickmaker at Elsted brickyard. Of the grandchildren, only Frederick junior was still living with his grandparents. Aged 15, young Frederick was employed as a “cycle assistant in shop”.

Military service

Frederick enlisted at Chichester, probably in late 1915 or early 1916. At the time of his death he was serving with the 12th (Service) (Bristol) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. It is not clear whether he originally enlisted into the Gloucestershire Regiment or whether he joined a local regiment and was subsequently transferred.

The battalion had been formed in August 1914 by the “Bristol Citizens Recruiting Committee” as a Bristol battalion, which subsequently became the 12th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment, with the soubriquet “Bristol’s Own”. The battalion sailed to France in November 1915, as part of the Fifth Division in the Second Army under General Herbert Plumer.

Over the next two years, the battalion were engaged in various actions on the Western Front. During 1916, they took part in the attacks on High Wood, the Battle of Guillemont, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Morval and the Battle of Le Transloy. The following year, they fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the attack on La Coulotte in France, before moving into the Ypres Salient where they took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood in September and the Battle of Broodseinde in October.

Death and commemoration

On 4 October 1917, the Second British Army, together with Australian troops, assaulted the ridge at Broodseinde, north-east of Ypres, to dislodge the German defences. In heavy rain, the allied troops inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and succeeded in attaining their objective. Casualties were high on both sides, with 20,000 allied and 35,000 enemy soldiers either killed or taken prisoner.

The grave of Private Frederick Arthur Moseley at  Hooge Crater Cemetery, Zillebeke
The grave of Private Frederick Arthur Moseley at Hooge Crater Cemetery, Zillebeke

The precise circumstances of Frederick Moseley’s death are unclear. 70 men from the Gloucester Regiment were killed on 4 October 1917, nearly all of whom were either buried or commemorated at Tyne Cot, a mile from Broodseinde village. Frederick was originally buried in a grave close to where he was killed, but on 7 May 1919, his body (along with 12 unknown allied casualties) was re-interred at Hooge Crater Cemetery, four miles south-west of the battlefield. On his grave, his initials are incorrectly given as E.H. Moseley.

His name was originally omitted from the war memorial in St Peter’s Church, Treyford and is shown on a separate plaque. Frederick was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Subsequent family history and other family members

Frederick’s mother, Betsy, had died in July 1916. His father, Charles, continued to live at Mill Cottage, Treyford until he died in 1924 aged 86.

Two of Frederick’s cousins, both the sons of Charles’s brother, George, were also killed during the war.  George Moseley (born 1884 in Minsted) served with The Royal Sussex Regiment and was killed in the Battle of the Somme on 3 September 1916: he is commemorated on the Stedham war memorial. His younger brother, Frederick Harry Moseley (born 1892 in Didling) served with the Royal Field Artillery and was also killed in The Somme on 17 September 1916, two weeks after his brother: he is commemorated on the war memorial at St Mary’s Church, Compton, near his parents’ home.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project