Meritorious Service Medal Groups from the Collection of Ian McInnes

Date of Auction: 18th July 2018

Sold for £3,600

Estimate: £3,000 - £4,000

The unique and important M.S.M. and campaign group of eight awarded to Warrant Officer W. E. Moore, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, an ‘Early Bird’ in all senses - he was one of the R.F.C.’s first N.C.O.s, and served as the Senior Sergeant Major in the R.F.C. from February 1915, becoming the Senior Warrant Officer in the R.A.F. by both number (5) and length of service (9 December 1889) upon its’ formation. Having served with the Balloon Section, Royal Engineers during the Boer War, Moore went on to serve with distinction with 9 Squadron in France during the Great War. He completed over 30 years service when he was discharged in April 1920

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 4 clasps, South Africa 1901, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg (24407. Cpl: W. E. Moore. R.E.) clasps mounted in this order; 1914-15 Star (5 S. Mjr. W. E. Moore. R.F.C.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. Oak Leaves (5. S.M.1. W. E. Moore. R.A.F.); Army L.S. & G.C., E.VII.R. (24407 Sjt: W. E. Moore. R.E.); Royal Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, G.V.R. (5 Serjt.-Major W. E. Moore. R.A.F.); France, Third Republic, Medal of Honour for Foreign Affairs, 3rd type, with crossed-swords and laurel wreath suspension, silver-gilt, unnamed as issued, Romania, Kingdom, Medal for Hardihood and Loyalty, 3rd Class with swords, bronze; together with Shooting Medal, bronze, reverse engraved ‘Presented To Winners of R.E. Challenge Shield Aldershot Corpl. W. E. Moore’, with top riband bar, this engraved ‘1906’, and a Royal Engineers’ Balloon School Medal, E.VII.R., 31mm., silver, official awards mounted for display, light contact marks, otherwise very fine or better (8) £3000-4000


Provenance: Sotheby’s, July 1998.

M.S.M. London Gazette 1 January 1919, the Recommendation states:

‘This Warrant Officer has been serving with the British Expeditionary Force since 1914. He is a very excellent Warrant Officer, splendid disciplinarian, and is constantly concerning himself with the comfort and amusement of the men.

He has shown great efficiency during the frequent moves of the Squadron during the last three months.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 13 November 1916:

‘For devotion to duty. Sergt. Major Moore has shown great initiative in his work in No. 9 Squadron R.F.C.’

France, Medal of Honour for Foreign Affairs London Gazette 21 August 1919, the Recommendation states:

‘For conspicuous coolness and devotion to duty on every occasion, in particular in June, 1916 at Morlancourt, and October, 1917 at Proven, when the Squadron was attacked with Bombs by enemy aircraft by night.

He has carried out his duties as Disciplinary Sergeant Major with vigour and marked efficiency for the last two years.’

Romania, Medal for Hardihood and Loyalty, 3rd class London Gazette 15 July 1919, the Recommendation states:

‘This Warrant Officer has been serving with the British Expeditionary Force since 1914, and is a very excellent Warrant Officer.

On three occasions he showed great courage and resource in getting the men of his Squadron into safety when enemy bomb raids were in progress.

He has shown great efficiency during the frequent moves of the Squadron during the last months of active warfare.’

William Edward Moore was born in ‘December 1875 in Kirkee, India, the son of a serving soldier, who died there. Moore spent four years and three months at the Royal Hibernian Military School (RHMS), Dublin from September 1885 prior to attesting into the Royal Engineers on 9 December 1889... Boy Moore was given the number of 24407 and was posted to the Royal Engineers’ Band for training. He was appointed Bugler on 1 August 1890...

Moore put up his first stripe as acting Lance Corporal 11 October 1890... He then passed courses in photography (’skilled’ 20 August 1895) and as a balloonist (’superior’ 21 March 1898).... Around this time his future life was settled, for the problems between the British and the Boers were to further the strength of the Balloon Companies of the Royal Engineers - Britain’s air arm, used for aerial reconnaissance. By November 1899, Moore had been a Lance Corporal in the 1st Balloon Section since the previous month, and on 4 November set sail on either the Kilonan Castle or Pembroke Castle for Africa, and the war against the Boers, with three officers and 34 N.C.O.s and men under the command of Captain H. B. Jones. They arrived off Cape Town at 10am 22 November and came alongside a wharf at 7pm and spent all night unloading. Next day they marched to Greenpoint and on the 24th set up camp and established a gas factory at Fort Knokke. On 5 December they proceed to De Aar, arriving by train at 7am on the 7th. They employed 11 balloons in all, filled with high pressure hydrogen carried in 1892 and 1898 pattern tubes of spun steel, the first at a pressure of 1800lb per square inch, the second, slightly larger pattern had double the formers’ capacity. Their transport thereafter was by six-ox wagons with balloons sometimes transported inflated.

Lance Corporal Moore, a sapper and two drivers were left at Fort Knokke in charge of stores until 8 April 1900, by which time he had been promoted to 2nd Corporal... No. 1 Balloon Section, Royal Engineers and 2nd Corporal Moore served at Bloemfontein, Vet River, Kroonstad, and Grotvlei in May 1900, and on the last day of that month entered Johannesburg. In June they were at Fort Klapper Kop leaving there on 19 July for Piennaarspoort, then Dankerhoek where they were attached to the Guards Brigade. Just what the Guards made of their ‘Dress Code’ is hard to imagine. In August they arrived at Middleburg via the Dankerhoek Pass and there entrained for Pretoria and the termination of their ballooning activities....

In November 1902, after returning from South Africa in May, 1901, 2nd Corporal Moore was qualified as ‘superior’ in musketry at Hythe, then served at Gibraltar from December 1903 to April 1904.

During this period, Moore served in the Balloon Sections and at one stage was awarded a Balloon School Medal commemorating a visit by Edward VII and by 1910 was serving in No. 3 Company, Balloon School RE (Dismounted), as the second Sergeant of the Company under 24764 Sergeant W. A. Bourne. Serving in the same company were two of the ‘QSA’ men listed below: 574 Corporal C. Cullen and 3426 J. Bell. Moore later took charge of 3 Company, his senior Lance Corporal was then Frank Ridd, who was the first R.F.C. non-commissioned officer pilot. Another notable in 3 Company was 20083 Sapper James Thomas Byford McCudden, later Major, V.C., D.S.O. and Bar, M.C. and Bar, M.M. and Croix de Guerre.

In Army Order 77 of April 1903, Moore, by then a Sergeant, had been awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. In October 1910, he was promoted to Company Sergeant Major and was posted to South Farnborough on 24 July 1912 to help form the R.F.C. to which he transferred on 17 August that year... On 10 December 1912 Moore became a Warrant Officer, with effect from 24 July 1912. Tuesday 12 August 1913, saw Moore as part of the funeral procession following ‘Colonel’ Samuel Frank Cody to his grave at Aldershot. Born in Texas in 1861, Cody made the first officially recognised flight in a powered aeroplane in the UK on 16 October 1908. Prior to this, he had designed and flown military, man-carrying kites for the British Army in 1903 and helped design the military airship Nulli Secundus, which made its first flight in September 1907. Sergeant Moore served with Cody and was present at all of those occasions.

No. 6 Squadron R.F.C. was formed at South Farnborough in January 1914 and transferred to Netheravon in May. It was mainly an experimental unit, including a wireless and photographic flight as well as testing new types of aircraft. Sergeant Major Moore with his vast experience of ballooning and especially photography was the ideal man to be the senior enlisted man in the Squadron. The first men of 6 Squadron flew to France in October 1914 and worked on reconnaissance duties and artillery spotting, but Moore remained at Farnborough, training up more men...

Sergeant Major Moore was thus the senior R.F.C. Warrant Officer from February 1915 and continued as the Senior Warrant Officer the Royal Air Force, on its formation 1 April 1918. Indeed, he was the only man amongst the 1,400 pre-war members of the Royal Flying Corps to have been awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal with the obverse of King Edward VII, which was, in his case, named to his parent unit, the Royal Engineers. By 1918 only 13 of these 1,400 early birds had an Army L.S. & G.C. Medal, in their cases all named to the R.F.C. and all bearing the obverse of George V....

In April 1915, 9 Squadron was formed at Brooklands. Sergeant Major Moore went to war again on 12 December 1915 when he and 9 Squadron crossed to France. The Squadron was effectively the first wireless school in the R.F.C., and in July 1915 it had moved to Dover for coastal defence work, having a go at the odd Zeppelin. In France, it served with the 3rd British Army on long-range reconnaissance duties until spring when, flying from Allonville, it was involved in recce flying for the Somme battles on counter-battery patrols, contact patrols, trench flights, photography and kite balloon attacks; on the first day 69 hours were flown. In working with the guns during this battle 9 Squadron lost more aircraft by being hit by artillery shells than by enemy aircraft. Until the end of the offensive in September the Squadron was heavily involved, then weather reduced flying during the winter. In 1917, the Squadron again became busy with the advance on the Hindenburg Line and then, whilst the Arras battle was on, flew diversionary bombing raids to the south.

In June 1917, then re-equipped with R.E.8s, the Squadron moved north to Ypres where it was largely involved in artillery co-operation... In the German advance of March 1918, No. 9 flew many offensive patrols before being pulled out for a rest. Returning to action in June, it had a roving commission and flew many bombing raids on targets behind the lines... In September 1918, it joined IX Corps for the final offensive then moved into the Army of Occupation after the Armistice. In July 1919, it returned to the UK and was disbanded on the last day of that year....

Sergeant Major Moore had been the senior Sergeant Major in the R.F.C. since February 1915 and so became not only the senior Warrant Officer in the R.A.F. but was in fact the most senior both by number (5) and length of service (9 December 1889).... Moore took his discharge on 14 April 1920, with over 30 years’ and four months service... Upon discharge in 1920, Moore was offered, and took up, a post as Barrack Warden at Dover Castle where he remained until 1922. He then transferred to Perham Down on Salisbury Plain where he remained until retirement, aged 68, in December 1940... He died 13 February 1964, aged 88, at Weymouth, Dorset.’ (Article written by Ian McInnes published in the O.M.R.S. Journal of January 2006 refers)

Sold with the following related items and documents: Royal Flying Corps Swagger Stick; Prize Cup, silver (Hallmarks for Birmingham 1907), engraved ‘Engineers Rifle Meeting 1907 Championship Cup Won By Sergt. W. E. Moore R.E.’; Prize Cup, silver (Hallmarks for Birmingham 1898), engraved ‘Aldershot R.E. N.C.O’s Mess Rifle Challenge Cup Won By Sergt. W. E. Moore 1909’; recipient’s Identity Tags - ‘W. E. Moore, 5 R.F.C.’; R.F.C. Cap Badges and cloth insignia; Warrant, dated 24 July 1912; M.I.D. Certificate, dated 13 November 1916; Bestowal Document for French award, dated 30 January 1919; Bestowal Document for Romanian award, dated 20 March 1920; R.A.F. Certificate of Service; Army First Class Certificate of Education, dated 23 July 1912; Employment Sheet for No. 1 Squadron, R.F.C., dated 7 November 1913; and another dated 10 March 1920; three Letters of Reference, including one from Major J. T. Rodwell, O.B.E., 9 Squadron; a number of photographs, including: a unit photograph of Balloon Section, R.E.; the N.C.O.’s of 9 Squadron, R.F.C., with their C.O. Major Rodwell, taken in March 1918 and with key on reverse; photographs of Cody’s funeral showing recipient present; and portrait photographs of the recipient in uniform; a scarce history of No. 1 Balloon Section in the Boer War. Also sold with a large amount of copied research, and an article on the recipient written by Ian McInnes and published in the O.M.R.S. Journal of January 2006.