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A North East Tommy

by DaveMoore

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People in story: 
Tom Moore
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Contributed on: 
06 November 2003

Tom Moore’s war as remembered by his son, Dave Moore
Valentine’s Day 1923 in Shildon, County Durham in the North East of England saw the arrival of Thomas Forster Moore, son of Thomas Forster and Esther May Moore. When Thomas Moore senior died in 1933 Esther May moved the family to nearby Darlington where the family settled until the outbreak of war in 1939.
Having left school at the age of 14, Tom started work with a local cobbler, learning to mend shoes until that day in 1940 when, aged only 17 Tom left work for the last time. Claiming he was really 18 years old but had lost his birth certificate he joined the army, and never went back to cobbling shoes . When he got home and told his mam what he’d done she was very upset.
Tom joined the DLI (Durham Light Infantry) and after some basic training in nearby Aycliffe, Tom was sent to the other end of the country to wait for orders. Corporal Moore was shipped off to North Africa and eventually took part in what became known as the Anzio landings.
As part of the British 1st Division Tom landed on the beaches at Anzio, in Italy on 22nd January 1944. The German counter attack came in early February, trying to drive the British and American armies back into the sea before they could consolidate. Tom was promoted to Sergent but, in the next German counter attack on Valentine’s Day, Tom’s 21 birthday, he was taken prisoner. “Hands up, Tommy ... for you the war is over” How did they know his name?
Tom was taken to a POW (Prisoner of War) camp know as Stalag 7A, near Munich in southern Germany. Food was scarce, but Red Cross parcels helped to keep him alive. Favourite jewelry, Tom’s rings were swapped with German guards for black bread, but even this was better than nothing; they would have taken the rings eventually anyway.
By the summer of the following year, rumours of the allied advance were rife, and allied planes were often seen flying overhead. One morning, the camp awoke to find all the guards had gone, and the gates were open. The POWs “shot out of the camp, up the hill and away”.
Tom made his way north and west, scavenging food where he could before being picked up by allied soldiers. Eventually arriving at a channel port Tom was shipped home, finally arriving by train at Bank Top Station, Darlington where his mother and sisters were overjoyed to see him.
His time as a POW affected him greatly. He lost a lot of weight and had nightmares for a long time afterwards, but always marched proudly in our local Remembrance Parade.
He didn’t talk to me very much about the war, but as a small child growing up in the 1950’s the war for me was ancient history anyway. It was only as I got older that I really started to understand just what it all meant. Oh to turn back the clock and have the chance to hear the full story!

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

British Army Category
Prisoners of War Category
Anzio Landings 1944 Category
North Africa Category
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