A young 18-year-old Lieutenant, said to have shot four of his own men who had bolted was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross.
I have a friend who consistently tells me he is not anti-military he just has an issue with them getting awarded medals for what seems like nothing more than polishing their boots everyday. Chatting recently he pointed out this case as an example, it was of a young man at Gallipoli who in the Battle of Krithia was indeed awarded the VC.
We have to be very careful stating “fact” to validate our perspective; often we confirm our bias with information we would like to be true that may only be urban myth. Sometimes, the way we would like things to be isn’t always the case, due to our conviction and self-belief in our own judgement we convince ourselves that we “know” the truth.
To be fair, his perspective is the abject futility of war is pointless and he argues the case that we shouldn’t be sending our young men and women to be killed and broken under the command of Generals & Politicians who may be either incompetent, uncaring, fostering their own agendas or perhaps a combination of these.
It happens all the time
Another mate has different political views from his children and at a recent function his wife did the bolt when the topic switched to current events and the positions of government and the opposition. That conversation ended up with a memorable statement; “Don’t confuse me with all your facts; my mind is already made up.”
War correspondent Charles Bean is the individual who made the statement in the opening paragraph of this article, and it creates the perception of impropriety. It is in the book “Gallipoli – untold stories from Charles Bean” and we have to be very careful latching onto something in isolation that validates our perspective. Bean never interviewed or spoke to anyone actually involved in the incident, it is purely third party conjecture on his part, something which soldiers, bored for 99% of the time in their service life are very much prone to promulgating!
Another similar incident is the bayoneting of surrendered soldiers in WWI by Australian troops. There are quite a few accounts but no evidence that after the Battle of Bita Paka in New Guinea before the 1st AIF had even departed Australia that Melanesian troops serving under German Command were executed. There is also in all probability the likelihood that we whipped their German officers.
Emotion, justification, mitigations what’s real…
It may actually be true that George Moor did summarily execute four soldiers; we will never know the truth, however no first hand accounts suggest this. Also, unless you have been trained for war and then placed in his unenviable position, you cannot judge whether these actions were warranted the situation he encountered. It is the dilemma of every commander to decide which men he will have to order into a situation where he knows they will probably not survive for the greater need of his remaining forces to survive and fulfil the objective set by their political masters.
The appalling causalities and the criticism of General Haig for failing to call off the Somme offensives in 1916 may be warranted, 60,000 troops were lost in one day alone. The only slack I will cut him in his defence is the complete lack of understanding of what industrialised warfare meant for anyone at that time.
In 1917 however he continued to conduct futile assaults due to the mutiny of French troops, if he had failed to commit German forces to that sector of the front they would have very quickly identified and exploited their opportunity to capture Paris and win the war.
So what actually happened in the case of Lt G.R.D. Moor VC, MC & Bar
This brave young man’s story, decorated three times for bravery, deserves to be told. George Raymond Dallas Moor VC, MC & Bar was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Born 22 October 1896, in his mother’s sister’s home in Pollington Street, St. Kilda, Australia. Son of William Henry Moor (Auditor-General, Transvaal, retired) and Mrs. Moor, and nephew of the late Sir Ralph Moor, formerly High Commissioner for Southern Nigeria. He was educated at Cheltenham College, commissioned into the 3rd Battalion the Hampshire Regiment in October 1914, and was granted a Regular Commission on 1 August 1915.
After six months’ training in England and Egypt, he went with the 2nd Battalion to the Dardanelles, and was at the landing at V Beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. His V.C. decoration was gazetted on 24 July 1915, when he was only 18 years of age.
“For most conspicuous bravery and resource on the 5th June, 1915, during operations South of Krithia, Dardanelles. When a detachment of a battalion on his left, which had lost all its officers, was rapidly retiring before a heavy Turkish attack, 2nd Lieutenant Moor immediately grasping the danger to the remainder of the line, dashed back some two hundred yards, stemmed the retirement, led back the men, and recaptured the lost trench. This young officer who only joined the Army in October, 1914, by his personal bravery and presence of mind saved a dangerous situation.”
He was invalided home soon afterwards suffering from dysentery. After recovering he joined the 1st Battalion in France and was badly wounded in the arm. He returned to England, and before regaining the use of his arm-was appointed Aide-de-Camp (A.D.C.) to Major General W. de L. ‘Williams, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., in France, where he gained the M.C. and Bar. Moor was promoted Lieutenant on 30 October 1916.
Military Cross citation: (gazetted 2 December 1918)
“Lieutenant George Raymond Dallas Moor, V.C., Hampshire Regiment. For conspicuous gallantry and skill. He carried out a daylight reconnaissance all along the divisional front in face of heavy machine-gun fire at close range, in many places well in front of our foremost posts.”
Bar to Military Cross (gazetted 29 July 1919)
“On October 20th, 1918, near to Pijpestraat, the vanguard commander was wounded and unable to carry on. Owing to heavy shelling and machine-gun fire, the vanguard came to a standstill. Lieut. Moor, Acting General Staff Officer, who was reconnoitring the front, noticed this; he immediately took charge, and by his fearless example and skilful leading continued the advance until the objective was reached. He has a positive contempt for danger, and distinguishes himself on every occasion.”
Lieutenant-General Sir Beauvoir de Lisle, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., in a narrative of the V.C. action, said, “I have often quoted this young Officer as being one of the bravest men I have met in this War.”
This poor young man was one of 15 million servicemen and women who did not survive WWI, he succumbed to Spanish Influenza during the pandemic which swept the world, and died at Mouvaux, France, on 3 November 1918. He is buried in the Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois-Grenier, which is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Have an opinion and argue it
In small business having an opinion and backing your judgement is essential for success. The really important thing though is to be fully informed and base your judgement on fact not hearsay.
If you find yourself being swayed by hearsay, stop and check what the consequences may be if you are wrong… If warranted, take the time to check out for yourself and find out the truth, you owe it to yourself when you are in a position so vital to the economy of this great nation that you don’t find yourself being challenged and losing credibility because you can’t validate your opinion.
Be informed, consider the wellbeing of all in our community and continue to work hard are the cornerstones of a great businessman.
Yours in Successful Small Businesses…