101-year-old vet has early Re­mem­brance Day

Charles Moores, 101, was a crew mem­ber of a ship tor­pe­doed dur­ing WW2

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - FRONT PAGE - BY GLEN WHIFFEN glen.whiffen@thetele­gram.com

At 101 years of age, Mer­chant Navy Sec­ond World War vet­eran Charles Moores was up at 5 a.m. Fri­day with a lit­tle ex­tra hop in his step.

He’d been look­ing for­ward to the day be­cause there would be ex­tra at­ten­tion on him, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing a Re­mem­brance ser­vice planned that morn­ing at his re­tire­ment home in Par­adise.

A num­ber of fam­ily mem­bers would be at­tend­ing.

Be­ing the old­est res­i­dent at Meadow Creek Re­tire­ment Cen­tre al­ready makes him some­what of a celebrity there, but he also likes to share his story from the war.

On Nov. 30, 1942, af­ter pick­ing up troops in Mom­basa, Kenya, his ship was tor­pe­doed by a Ger­man U-boat in the In­dian Sea at night. Moores says he was asleep in the top bunk await­ing to go on watch when two tor­pe­does hit, one af­ter the other.

“I was thrown from the bunk and landed on the floor,” he said. “I got up as well as I could and made for the boats, and we got what (life) boats we could off her.”

“I had my life­jacket on (and jumped in), and I ped­alled to a small raft and there were two more men on the raft. I couldn’t get on her be­cause she was only a small raft. I held onto the raft for two hours and I lost one of my shoes kick­ing off the sharks …” Charles Moores

Moores said there were a num­ber of peo­ple on the ship killed in the blasts, and the crew was able to get most of the sur­vivors into lifeboats. Moores was still on­board the ship, along with a few other crew mem­bers, when it started to go down. He said he had a choice to make — ei­ther go down with the ship or jump from her into the wa­ter. Nei­ther choice was much com­fort­ing as he couldn’t swim.

“I had my life­jacket on (and jumped in), and I ped­alled to a small raft and there were two more men on the raft,” he said.

“I couldn’t get on her be­cause she was only a small raft. I held onto the raft for two hours and I lost one of my shoes kick­ing off the sharks. And fi­nally, a (life) boat came along and picked us up, one of our own boats. And we spent three nights, three days in the lifeboat. We had two women in the lifeboat with us. And the third day, a con­voy came along and picked us up and brought us back to Dur­ban, South Africa.”

Sur­rounded by mem­o­ries

Sit­ting in a re­cliner chair in a cor­ner of his room at the re­tire­ment home, just prior to the ser­vice Fri­day morn­ing, Moores is sur­rounded by mem­o­ries.

The wall and ta­bles are cov­ered with framed pho­tos of fam­ily and of him tak­ing part in pre­vi­ous Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­monies and events, of cer­tifi­cates and cards of con­grat­u­la­tions, and of

framed news­pa­per ar­ti­cles in which he was fea­tured in dur­ing pre­vi­ous years. It’s a quiet, re­flec­tive space.

But be­hind his smile and gen­tle de­meanour, the mem­o­ries of those years sail­ing the dan­ger­ous seas of the Sec­ond World War are never far from this mind. He said it was a time of con­stant fear.

“I think about the war all the time,” Moores, who is from Car­bon­ear, said. “I’m get­ting a lit­tle for­get­ful on some of it, but I still re­mem­ber.”

It’s been 76 years since the tor­pedo at­tack and the pas­sage of time may erase some of the de­tails, but not the feel­ings.

Moores was only 25 when he felt the sud­den, jar­ring jolts of the tor­pedo hits, heard the loud ex­plod­ing rum­ble of steel and the shouts and cries from oth­ers about ship, and felt the strong sense of duty to scram­ble to his sta­tion to get peo­ple safely off the ves­sel — not know­ing whether an­other tor­pedo was on its way to­ward them.

Then there’s the mem­ory of be­ing in the dark, cold wa­ter. Hold­ing des­per­ately onto the small raft and be­ing cir­cled by sharks.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the in­ter­view was fin­ished Fri­day, Moores’ jacket with his medals at­tached is fit­ted onto him and he’s off ea­gerly push­ing his walker down the hall­way from his room to the large cafe­te­ria where the cer­e­mony is tak­ing

place.

Fam­ily pride

His son, Keith Moores, said all the fam­ily is very proud of his fa­ther and ap­pre­cia­tive of the staff and the Re­mem­brance ser­vice put off at Meadow Creek.

“He is very proud and anx­ious to be a part of this cer­e­mony,” Keith Moores said. “It’s a cel­e­bra­tion for him.”

Be­fore head­ing into the cer­e­mony Charles Moores pauses to get a photo taken with an­other res­i­dent of the home, Irv­ing Ware­ham, who is also from Car­bon­ear.

Ware­ham has served more than 30 years in the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion and has vol­un­teered much time over the years train­ing army and air cadets, and also spent many years with the Cana­dian

Rangers, and worked with the Re­serves.

He said he al­ways knew other mem­bers of the Moores fam­ily, but first met Charles Moores about 15 years ago.

As for the Sec­ond World War, as a young boy he re­mem­bers see­ing bombers fly­ing out of the air­field at Tor­bay and com­ing in from Gan­der and Hal­i­fax. He has an ac­tive part in the ser­vice.

Moores was al­ways a reg­u­lar at­tendee at the Na­tional War Me­mo­rial Re­mem­brance Day ser­vices in down­town St. John’s. He’s been un­able to do so for the past cou­ple of years.

Still, just be­fore turn­ing his walker and head­ing again to­ward the cafe­te­ria for the cer­e­mony on Fri­day, he said, “I feel good.”

GLEN WHIFFEN/THE TELE­GRAM

Mer­chant Navy Sec­ond World War vet­eran Charles Moores (left) is 101 years of age. He is pic­tured with fel­low Meadow Creek Re­tire­ment Cen­tre res­i­dent Irv­ing Ware­ham Fri­day morn­ing prior to at­tend­ing a Re­mem­brance ser­vice be­ing held at the re­tire­ment cen­tre in Par­adise.

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