Forgotten Victims


 More than 90 years after his father came back from World War 1 a fragile and troubled man and took his own life, Whangamata man Jack Moore has pleaded for the country to understand what war’s “forgotten victims” endured.

Mr Moore, 89, was only four when his father committed suicide in 1929 and has only vague memories of him. What he has lived with for the last nine decades is the devastation the war and his father’s premature death caused his mother and the rest of his family.

His father, also Jack Moore, arrived home in 1919, a decorated war hero but an emotionally fragile and tormented man.

Paeroa-born Jack Moore went to Australia shortly before the war began and went overseas with the Australian Imperial Forces. He landed at Gallipoli at dawn on April 25, 1915, was badly wounded when a Turkish soldier shot him in the shoulder, and sent to Malta to recover.

After several months in hospital he was sent back to the war, to the bloody and brutal trenches of the western front in France. He survived without being wounded again but four years of fighting was taking a terrible emotional and mental toll.

He returned to his home town of Paeroa on the Hauraki Plains in 1919, married and had two children.

In 1929, when Jack Moore was 40 and with a third child on the way, World War 1 war claimed another victim.

The troubled family man left a tortured and heart-rending note and killed himself, unable to cope with the ugly aftermath of the war.

“My brain is going,” he scrawled on a scrap of paper.

His death devastated his wife and family.

Young Jack Moore was too young to understand what had happened and why his father was not coming home any more.

He did not learn of his father’s suicide for nearly 50 years in 1978 when a relative told him. But he did understand the anguish the war and his father’s death caused his mother and his family and now he is determined others will understand.

Mr Moore, a retired electrical engineer who served with the RNZAF during World War II and who lives in Whangamata on the CoromandelPeninsula, wants people to know the pain war’s “forgotten victims” endured.

He said the families, relatives and friends of soldiers who were wounded, traumatised, or who died fighting for their country, went through their own hell while the men were away, fighting in another country in a war many did not understand.

 At Anzac Day this year, Mr Moore went with his daughter Vicki Davey and his granddaughter, Sacha Davey to the dawn service at the Waihi RSA...

 It was an emotional and proud moment for Mr Moore. On her right breast Sacha, 27, who lives in Perth, wore the Distinguished Conduct Medal his father won in France, for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty”.

 “It was very emotional and I was as proud as I could be, just knowing that by wearing the medal Sacha was recognising what my Dad and what my family went through. I think Sacha and some of the other young people at the service began to understand what awful, awful things war can do to a man and how it can so deeply trouble those left behind, the mothers, fathers, wives, children and family.

 “They are the forgotten victims of war and went through their own form of hell, not knowing if they were coming back, and wondering is the next letter a telegram with the news they all dreaded getting.”   Mr Moore said he wants people to understand how hard it was for many New Zealand families to grow up without a husband, or a father.

 In a book on his father, Anzac Jack, Mr Moore wrote of the five years of “tribulations and the living hell” his father endured.

 “He had helped to win the Great War but he lost his own battle in the end.”

 Mr Moore said his mother and his family, were “like many thousands of others” in New Zealand after the war. In those days very little, if anything, was done to help returned servicemen and their wives and families, cope with the awful trauma of war. It ripped many families apart.”

 “Things have changed for returning soldiers but I still do not think enough is done for these forgotten victims.

 “On Anzac Day we remember men such as my father and his mates. Many made the supreme sacrifice. Many survived. Some were wounded and suffered for years. Some, such as my father, were left with severe mental problems.

 “We remember them and men and women from later wars with all the respect and dignity they have truly earned. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the men and women who went to war.

 “But let us also spare a thought for their families who waited at home. Let us remember mothers such as my grandmother in Auckland. She waited four years for my father to return, dreading every day she would receive the telegram to say he had been wounded again or worse still he had been killed or was missing in action.  

 “She died just before he returned. Let us remember mothers such as my own who lost my father 10 years after the war.

 “These mothers and many other family members in similar circumstances were torn apart by the deaths of their men or their absence at war. At the same time they supported their families, ran the farms and businesses and contributed to the country’s war effort.

 “They had to pick up the pieces and they did it with dignity and devotion. They received no accolades. They received no medals. Their names are not recorded. They were the unsung heroes.   “They deserve to be remembered too and I think it is time we gave them credit in some tangible form for the part they have played both during and after these horrifying conflicts that cost them so dearly.”

 Mr Moore said the recognition he was suggestion would not cost anything. He just wanted people, particularly the younger generation, to understand how tough it was for his “forgotten victims” to lose someone in a war or how badly they were affected.

 “I would like a greater awareness of the pain and the torment war can bring, not only to a soldier but to his family and friends. It is a different form of hell.”

 Mr Moore said the sentiments were brought home to him when he read a letter from his father dated December 30, 1917, from the trenches “somewhere in France”.

 “It reads, ‘All I worry about is we win this war successfully and I have the luck to get back safely to my dear old mother. She has gone through far more than I have in this war’,” Mr Moore said.   “His words say it all.”


Jack Moore   Whangamata                      10/10/2014                            Ian Stuart   Auckland

The photo below is of Jack Moore with his grand daughter, Sacha Davey at the Waihi RSA Dawn Parade.

Sacha wears the medals her great grandfather won in France during WW1.