On 13 July 1917, the Shipley Times & Express carried the following story:Second Lieutenant William Thomas Gregory Moss, son of the Rev Thomas Moss, pastor of the Baptist Church, has met his death as the result of an accident.Something went wrong while he was piloting an aeroplane over an aerodrome on Thursday of last week and the machine crashed to the ground.At the inquest which was held at Cirencester on Saturday, a verdict of Accidental Death was returned.It was stated the Lieut Moss, who was a
qualified pilot, went on a flight alone in a machine he liked and asked for. When at an altitude of 300 feet a witness saw the machine turn nose downwards and dive to the ground, the pilot being killed instantaneously No suggestion could be offered as to the cause of the accident.A native of Shepton Mallet in Somerset, Lieut Moss, who was nearly 19 years of age, commenced his education at a private school at Bath and previous to the family coming to Idle, he attended the Clifford Collegeate School at Beckington. From 1910 to 1916 he was a student at the Bradford Grammar School and on attaining his seventeenth year in September, 1915, he joined the Artistes’ Rifles.
Later he joined the Royal Flying Corps and after a course of training at Oxford, where he was recognised as a youth of great promise, he was granted a commission.He had been described by one of the instructors as one of the most promising airmen.Before joining the army, Lieut Moss was a devoted worker in the Idle Baptist Sunday School and he was highly respected by all who knew him.His father is serving as a chaplain under the auspices of the YMCA in France where he is accompanied by Mr Edwin W Berry of Thackley.
As well as the report of his death, the newspaper carried this tribute in its editorial column.For those whom he dearly loved, Sec-Lieut Gregory Moss, R.F.C., of Idle, has freely laid down his life.He had not been face to face with the enemy but he was a clever airman and was shortly to proceed to the Continent.A little short of 19 years of age, Gregory was a fine lad and never did a keener patriot then he don khaki.It was not certain what calling he would have followed but he was a sympathetic and loveable lad and had he lived and followed in the
The love that prompted knights of oldTo deeds of valour and renown,The love unmeasured and untoldThat is at once life’s cross and crown,Unfolding his youthful heartBid him go play the hero’s part.With sympathy his soul o’erflowedHe longed to serve his fellow men;The spirit of adventure bold Was ever in his mind and ken.He yearned to turn all wrongs to right,To make life’s way more smooth and bright.When duty’s call came ringing clearAcross a world of strife and woe,To fight for all that men hold dear,Or yield to a relentless foe,Ease counted naught at such a price,He gave his life as sacrifice.He fell, not mid the battle’s roar,Yet none the less his deed will count,His aspirations high did soar,O’er mundane things his soul did mount.Honour still lives; to such as heWe owe our England’s liberty
footsteps of his father he would without doubt have made his mark.Never was he so happy as when doing a good turn. The poorest of the poor found in him a real friend and never would he pass a crossing sweeper without saying ‘a word in season.’When the war broke out he longed to be a soldier and before joining he took part in many a march with regiments who passed through the district in which he resided.It is when we sacrifice such promising lads as Gregory that we feel more than ever the irreparable loss we are sustaining by this fearful catastrophe. Here is our tribute to the deceased airman.
Two weeks later the newspaper carried an article about William’s father (right):“I would sooner have my boy’s position than the position of some of the people I know. “All they think about is the safety of their own skins and the good time they can have at home while others are willingly making sacrifices on behalf of humanity and freedom.“I would rather follow the example of my son than have it on my conscience that I was a shirker.”Such were the words of the Rev Thomas Moss, pastor of the Idle Baptist Church, when seen by a representative of the Express prior to his return to France on the conclusion
of his short leave granted on the death of his son, Sec-Lieut Gregory Moss of the Royal Flying Corps.This gallant young officer was only 18 years of age. He had been successful in his examinations for a commission, had quickly showed great promise as a skilful and intrepid aviator and was eventually awarded his ‘pilot’s wings.’Recently he was accidentally killed whilst piloting his favourite aeroplane over an aerodrome.At the time of his son’s death Mr Moss was doing patriotic work in France under the auspices of the YMCA. Along with his official, Mr Edwin Berry of Thackley, he has been on the Continent for two months and has a like period still to serve before completing the term for which he volunteered.