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Service In York Minster to mark the Anniversary of the Death of Lieutenant General Sir John Moore

On the anniversary of the the death of our founding father, Lieutenant General Sir John Moore, a service was held in the Regimental Chapel within York Minster. Retired officers and former soldiers from The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, The Light Infantry, The Royal Green Jackets, and The Rifles gathered in the Regimental Chapel in York Minster for the service.

This is the second the service in York Minster has been held and is in addition to the service being held later in the day at Sir John Moore's tomb in London's Saint Paul's Cathedral. Following the service in York Minster, conducted by Rev Andrew Martlew TD our Association Padre, Association members, and guests retired to the warmth of Dean Court Hotel for a buffet lunch and a catch-up.

During the service the reading of Sir John Moore's life was read by Mr Paul Crompton former LI(TA), and Mr Hugh Goudge former RGJ read the Charles Wolfe poem "The Burial of Sir John Moore at Corunna". Wreath layers were Lt (Retd) Nigel Blackburn LI(TA), Mr Adrian Waites LI , Mr Colin Cranswick LI laid the RGJ wreath on behalf of Mr Stuart Anderson RGJ, and Capt Alex Schute 3Rifles. Buglers were Mr Kev Fawcett and Major (Retd) David Jarratt who brought the Minster to a standstill when they sounded Last Post and Reveille. Standard Bearers were Mr Adrian Waites, Mr Rob Smith and Mr Colin Cranswick.

Our thanks to Capt Alex Schute 3Rifles who made the long journey from Edinburgh to represent The Rifles and our afiliated Rifles Battalion. Also our grateful thanks to York Minster staff for the support especially Alex and minster volunteer Gail who Grandfather was a KOYLI serving in the Boar war and WW1.

This evening at Sir John Moore's memorial in St Pauls Cathedral London Capt (Retd) Jonathon Malins-Smith with lay a KOYLI wreath on behalf of our Association.

Eulogy – Lieutenant General Sir John Moore

John Moore was born in 1761, the son of a Glasgow Doctor. He was commissioned into the 51st Regiment of Foot in 1776. He returned to the regiment as its Commanding Officer in 1790. There can be no doubt that he had an affection and admiration for this ‘Minden’ Regiment and in recognition of this the 51st were converted to Light Infantry following his death. The 51st served in the Peninsular War, at Waterloo, and in India and Afghanistan before merging with the 105th Regiment of Foot to become the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1881.

Moore gained combat experience in the American War of Independence, Corsica, and the West Indies before being promoted to Major General and seeing further operational service in Ireland. In 1799 he was wounded during the Netherlands campaign but recovered to play a prominent role in the 1801 Egyptian campaign. He became Sir John Moore in 1804 and was promoted to Lieutenant-General the following year.

In his final campaign, he led the British Army from Portugal into Spain in 1808, but the convergence of overwhelming French forces necessitated a strategic withdrawal over the Galician mountains to Corunna, to enable the embarkation of the army to Britain. This arduous operation was carried out in adverse weather, during the midst of winter. There were numerous successful rear-guard actions along the way. On the 16th of January 1809 the French Army under the command of Marshall Soult launched the Battle of Corunna and it was whilst organising the counter-attack that Sir John Moore was mortally wounded. He was carried from the field by soldiers of the 42nd Highlanders, but died later in the day, knowing that his army had won a victory. He was buried on Corunna’s ramparts.

Sir John Moore was a leader of the highest quality, revealed not least in his efforts to create a new relationship between the officers and the men they led, a relationship founded on self-discipline, trust, and mutual respect. This ethos was embedded in the original Light Infantry regiments and is continued in today's ‘Rifles Regiment’. He was repaid by the affection that his troops displayed for him and their response to his teaching and methods of training.

The famous historian Sir Arthur Bryant wrote of him: ‘ Moore’s contribution to the British Army was not only the matchless Light Infantry who have ever since enshrined his training but also the belief that the perfect soldier can only be made by evoking all that is finest in man – physical, mental and spiritual’.

And it is in his teaching and training methods that his enduring fame lies, particularly in respect of ‘Light Troops’ and he is known to many as the ‘Father of the Light Infantry’. At Shorncliffe in Kent in 1803 the ‘Light Brigade’ was formed by the antecedent regiments of the ‘Royal Green Jackets’. Moore had the vision to create Light Troops that were a mixture of the ‘Jager’ and the ‘Grenadier’- all-purpose infantrymen.

The ’Light Brigade’ was expanded to become the famous ‘Light Division’ in Wellington’s ‘Peninsular Army’, commanded by Major-General Robert Craufurd. The skill and example of the ‘Light Division’ impressed the whole of the ‘Peninsular Army’ and went far to make it the instrument of the Duke of Wellington’s repeated victories over the French. Perhaps the finest epitaph to both Sir John Moore and Robert Craufurd is that within the ‘Peninsular Army’, possibly the most successful British Army of all time; the ‘Light Division’ was known as ‘THE DIVISION’.

We should all be immensely proud of this legacy.


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