This website isn’t about John Moore, but it may help visitors here to know a little more of his life before and after these letters.
I think and hope it’s really about the millions of ordinary men and women who are taken from their ordinary lives and thrust into war, it’s about what it means to them, the boredom, the loneliness, the comradeship, the waiting, the excitement, the fear, the confusion and, for most, the deep longing to just be home safe with their families.
John Thomas Moore was born in Walton, Leicestershire on the 10th of December 1923, the second of three children. Family history research seems to show that his direct family on his father’s line came from the area for many generations and mainly worked on the land. His mother came from South Wales, relocating to Leicester with her family when she was a child, for reasons we will probably never know. His younger brother died as an infant, his older sister Gwladys, who was perhaps the person who saved all the letters, died in 2000. The family fell on hard times and were forced to move to Leicester around 1930.
John did well at school and gained a scholarship to the local Grammar School, Wyggeston Boys’. At 16 he left and joined the Leicester Permanent Building Society as a junior clerk, but he was soon embroiled in the Second World War.
John joined up at the age of 17, rather than waiting for conscription when he was 18, I believe partly because he wanted to “do his bit” but also he said that if you volunteered you could have more choice about where you went, he chose the Royal Signals. He trained at Catterick, spent the months leading up to D Day in the South of England, sailed to France in June 1944 and I believe was in or near Hamburg when the war ended (the letters will hopefully tell us more on this when we reach that point). He was then sent to Egypt and Palestine and eventually demobilised in 1947, returning to the Building Society. The letters were mainly sent to his mother, father and sister Gwladys – these three are the “All” in “Dear All”.
Marrying Kathleen Chamberlain in 1948 he worked for the Building Society until retirement. He had three children. His first wife died in 1985 and in 1990 he married again, to Heather. Heather died in 2001 and John in August 2008.
Like many of his generation he rarely spoke about his war experiences, just snippets here and there. It wasn’t that he wouldn’t talk but he was clearly reluctant to go into it, we can only guess the reasons.
Transcribing the letters is a journey of discovery for his family and a very odd one, we get just one side of a conversation between people who are no longer here to check any details with.