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Century-old letter reveals story of family’s WWI grief and pride

There have been simply 24 days left within the First World Battle when Lt. James Gordon Moore’s airplane crashed close to Boulogne, France on Oct. 18, 1918.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t the affect that killed the Toronto pilot, however the extreme burns he suffered when attempting to tug his Australian colleague from the wreckage of the British Royal Flying Corps airplane.

In reality, Moore – recognized to all as Gordon – would survive one other agonizing 10-months in hospital in London, England, earlier than passing away throughout peacetime on Aug. 13, 1919.

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The story of his bravery, and his household’s pleasure and grief remained principally forgotten till his cousin’s granddaughter, Maureen Kitchen, found a heart-breaking letter in her mother and father’ home a decade in the past.

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Lt. James Gordon Moore in Toronto in 1917.


Courtesy: Maureen Kitchen

The letter was written by Moore’s older sister Thyrza, who had travelled from Canada to be at Gordon’s bedside in England.

Within the letter, she instructed her sister Marjorie, “The main instructed me that Gordon modified as quickly as he heard that I used to be on my manner and was completely effectively and pleased.”

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“It simply appeared that he might maintain out for a short time to be with me and ’til he heard from dwelling and knew we have been all proper, then he simply out of the blue collapsed, the pressure was an excessive amount of for the guts.”

Thyrza stayed with their British cousins when visiting Gordon in London.

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Lt. James Gordon Moore and his sister Thyrza in Canada earlier than he travelled to Europe to combat with Britain’s Royal Flying Corps.


Courtesy: Maureen Kitchen

“He was completely aware and knew me, however couldn’t communicate, he was so weak. I simply requested him if he knew me and he mentioned ‘sure,’ and as (cousins) Eardley and Everilda knew he had just a few extra minutes to dwell, they instructed me to go away him, as they didn’t need me to see him die, so I kissed him, and he mentioned ‘Sure, goodbye,’” wrote Thyrza.

“Actually Marjorie, it was terrible to assume that the worst really occurred. I felt so alone in an odd nation and I felt so for you at dwelling, however they have been completely fantastic to me each certainly one of them, and I’ll always remember their kindness to Gordon and I.”


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Moore died in an auxiliary hospital arrange in a constructing beside Kensington Palace.

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Maureen Kitchen, who lives in Mississauga, Ont., says her household didn’t communicate a lot about Gordon, or her great-uncle Midford who additionally died within the First World Battle.

For her, the letter revealed a household ache that had been sealed inside an envelope for many years.


A part of the primary web page of the letter from Thyrza Moore, to her sister Marjorie in Toronto, the place she particulars the final days and the funeral of their brother Lt. James Gordon Moore in England in August 1919.


Courtesy: Maureen Kitchen

“I went via and I opened all these envelopes that have been 100 years previous and I used to be studying the story and that was a horrible second, after I learn that letter,” mentioned Kitchen.

“It’s one factor to say, ‘Oh, he died in a crash. And you already know, it was horrible,’ however it’s fairly one other factor to learn the letter that his sister wrote, and all the small print, and it actually made it very actual to me, which it hadn’t earlier than. I used to be fairly distraught for fairly some time after studying that.”

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Lt. Moore was survived by his father and 4 sisters, who lived in Toronto.

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“It devastated that household. And, you already know, it was simply so shut [to the Armistice]. He virtually made it again,” she mentioned.

“You’ll be able to inform, that letter, that basically helped them take care of the truth that he was gone. He didn’t die in useless.”

Kitchen believes the deaths of Gordon and Midford had a profound impact on their household, which endures to today, however she is grateful the letter has endured too.


The small white Royal Air Power headstone of Lt. James Gordon Moore in Hampstead Cemetery, London, England.


Redmond Shannon / International Information

The four-page letter says Moore acquired a army funeral, with a 240-gun salute.

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In line with the Canadian Nice Battle Undertaking web site, he’s certainly one of 16 Canadians buried in Hampstead Cemetery in London, England, who died from accidents sustained within the First World Battle.




© 2021 International Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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