New Zealand Law Society - William Ernest Moore MC, c1882 - 1917

William Ernest Moore MC, c1882 - 1917

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William Moore was killed in action at Ypres in Belgium on 14 November 1917. His grave is unknown and he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium.

Details of Moore's birth are unknown, but it is believed he was born in England about 1882. His parents emigrated to New Zealand when he was young and settled in Auckland. He attended Mount Eden Primary School and Auckland Grammar School. He performed well both academically and in sports, particularly the high jump, rugby and tennis. In February 1896 he was recommended for a Junior Foundation Scholarship and he passed the matriculation examination in February 1900.

Moore went to Auckland University College in 1900 to study law. While studying he was employed as a law clerk by A Hanna. He was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand by Justice Edwards on 26 February 1906. A few months later he was capped with his LLB degree.

Moore remained closely involved with Auckland University College, particularly on the sports field. He represented the College in the high jump at the annual Easter sports tournaments, coming second in 1908. He also played tennis with the Onehunga Lawn Tennis Club, cricket for the Ponsonby Club and belonged to the Mangakiekie Golf Club.

On the legal side he quickly developed an excellent reputation for his prowess in the courts, appearing many times in the Magistrate's Courts and also in the Supreme Court, often as junior to T Cotter KC or JR Reed KC. In September 1909 there was an amicable parting of the ways with A Hanna as Moore left to set up practice on his own account. He was presented with a set of law books on his departure. Moore established a practice in the Hobson Buildings and became very well known among the profession and the wider community.  

On 19 November 1915 Moore set off to Sydney with the intention of going to England and enlisting. At a later meeting of the Congregational Union, for which he was solicitor, it was stated that he decided to go to England after two failures to be accepted for foreign service in New Zealand. On arrival he enlisted with the Royal Horse Artillery, and by February 1916 was at the RHA training camp at St John's Wood barracks, London.

He was quickly promoted to Second Lieutenant, and, after going to France, was promoted to Captain and then to Acting Major. A later report stated that he was in charge of his battery at the front with the rank of Major for four months. "When his old commander returned to duty, Major Moore applied to be allowed to resume his former rank, so that he could remain with his unit." (North Otago Times, 4 December 1917). 

In February 1917 news reached New Zealand that Moore had been awarded the Military Cross. The citation said it was for "Conspicuous gallantry in action. He displayed great courage and skill in maintaining communication under very heavy fire. He set a splendid example throughout." 

On 14 November 1917 Moore was killed in action. While superintending his battery he was killed when a German shell hit an ammunition dump and it exploded.

Members of the legal community mourned Captain Moore. A session of the Supreme Court in Auckland on 7 December 1917 began with tributes to Moore. Auckland District Law Society President Robert McVeagh said Moore had been a very prominent member of the Auckland Junior Bar, "and was always regarded as a gentleman of integrity, industry, and unusual legal capacity." McVeagh said he wanted to place on record the high esteem and affectionate regard in which Moore was held.

"Mr Justice Cooper, in reply, said that as soon as the news of Captain Moore's death reached him, he wrote to his parents, expressing the high esteem in which the deceased was held by the Bench, and indeed by the public generally. Mr Moore had appeared before him on several occasions, and he entertained a high opinion of his ability. The profession had sustained a serious loss by his death." (Auckland Star, 7 December 1917). 

Moore is remembered on the Auckland District Law Society memorial, the Auckland Grammar School War Memorial and the Memorial gates at Mount Eden Normal Primary School in Valley Road, Mount Eden. 

Sources: Auckland Star, 20 February 1896, page 3; Auckland Star, 15 February 1900, page 10; New Zealand Herald, 9 February 1901, page 4; Auckland Star, 6 November 1902, page 5; Otago Daily Times, 5 February 1906, page 3; New Zealand Herald, 27 February 1906, page 6; New Zealand Herald, 30 May 1906, page 6; Auckland Star, 21 April 1908, page 3; Auckland Star, 23 May 1912, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 5 June 1912, page 8; Auckland Star, 4 December 1913, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 20 March 1914, page 6; New Zealand Herald, 4 May 1914, page 12; New Zealand Herald, 30 September 1914, page 5; Dominion, 21 October 1914, page 9; Dominion, 20 November 1915, page 5; Colonist, 25 March 1916, page 4; London Gazette, 13 February 1917, page 1542; Dominion, 10 March 1917, page 8; Auckland Star, 28 November 1917, page 5; North Otago Times, 4 December 1917, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 4 December 1917, page 4; Auckland Star, 7 December 1917, page 5; New Zealand Herald, 8 December 1917, page 8.

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This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

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