I am Ernest Moore; I served in WW2 as Sergeant under 713 LCPL Mine Sweeping Flotilla and Corporal in the British SBS.
I am his grandson and he is willing to answer absolutely anything about his time in WW2. Please be patient as I answer as many questions as detailed as possible.
[Edit] - If this gets enough attention, I will begin uploading as many pictures as possible, including different boats and ships and their crews.
[Edit #2] - We had no idea this would get so much attention. We are taking a break for perhaps the remainder of the night and will continue tomorrow, Merry Christmas to all of you. - 18:43 GMT
[Edit #3] - Here is a picture until he returns tomorrow! http://imgur.com/XQlKj - 18:55 GMT
[Edit #4] - Front Page! Wow! Due to the popularity we are now continuing! - 20:10 GMT
[Edit #5] - We are stopping again now until tomorrow. Pictures to follow as were are currently at my house and not his. We will try and answer every single question! - 21:27 GMT
[Edit #6] - Here is his wife, Ruth: http://imgur.com/XjMQT - 21:40 GMT
[Edit #7] - Reminder that this thread will continue today at some point, with as many pictures as possible, we still intend to respond to every single question! Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! - 26th December 2012, 12:52 GMT
[Edit #8] - Apologies for our lateness. Unfortunately he will not be answering any questions until perhaps the end of the week, HOWEVER, to make up for this, I will be uploading as many pictures of him as possible. Watch this space! - 19:58 GMT
PICTURES: * March 1941 - Light Heavy Weight Champion of the Royal Marines * 1942 - In the middle of the Indian Ocean * 1955 - Luton
[Edit #9] - Many more pictures to follow. We have a scrapbook of hundreds and are shifting through them. Those pictures uploaded so far were directly scanned into my computer. The following pictures have been glued into the scrapbook, therefore we will be taking photos of the photos. - 21:00 GMT
(This made him smile). Thank you.
Tell him I said Merry Christmas.
He said Merry Christmas to you too!
Random European here.Can you just say hi to your grandad an by the way how old is he if it's not too rude to ask.And yeah by the way Merry Christmas.
Hello, I am nearly 91. Born on 6th February 1922.
The most dangerous situation was landing on D-Day on Omaha beach with the American Rangers. They were good. There were 500 casualties between 6am and 6pm in the afternoon.
Random American here. Thank you, Sergeant. Your courage and sacrifice is appreciated by so many of us. EDIT: spelling
Thank you very much and Merry Christmas.
Can you describe what you were thinking and feeling approaching the battle of D-Day? What was it like to be there and not knowing what would happen to you? It's cool to see vivid re-enactments like movies but nothing beats first hand experience.
Everything was silent. I was in a boat with fellow British Troops. The American's however, were shouting out threats in an attempt to boost morale. My thoughts were always back home with my family.
My grandfather was an American Ranger and was on the beach with you. You are both heroes.
Is he still alive? If so, did he ever attend any reunions.
He is. He's 88. To my knowledge he hasn't. We enjoy hearing his stories, and I have a Nazi Flag taken from a Post Office he "visited" :)
Come on guys, lets get these two skyping.
Unfortunately he's almost totally deaf and nearly blind. :-(
What's his name?
I was in the modern 1st Ranger Battalion from 06-10. Darby's Rangers didn't hit Omaha beach, but 2nd and 5th did. If you were there with them, hats off to you. The famous phrase, 'Rangers lead the way,' stems from that day.
I can recollect 101 Division of the Rangers, but no more I'm afraid.
What capacity did you work with the Americans on dday?
If he was still a cpl in the SBS at the start of DDay it is very likely that he was the first person attacking the beach in a kayak with a light on the back to highlight to the landing craft and amphibious tanks the safe route to the beachhead. I guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow for the real answer!
I was one of the first to attack on D-Day. First Special Service Assault Group. There was only 23 of us.
You are a goddamn hero.
There were thousands like me. Some had to unfortunately give their life up. Some had to pay the final sacrifice.
It must have been a scary moment stepping onto ground back then. I admire the bravery and courage that it took. You have my respect Sir and thank you!
EDIT: then > back then
Thank you very much. Merry Christmas.
What are your feelings when you now think of Germany/Austria etc.?
I have been Austria on holiday since WW2, and have even married a German girl. Her name is Ruth and we met in Krefeld, Germany when I was on The Royal Marine volunteer reserve. I have just come back from Germany after visiting Cologne for the Christmas fair.
Frohe Weihnachten from your brothers on the mainland!
(My grandmother laughed at this, a picture of her will follow)
My Grandfather served in WWII as well. After watching the movie "Saving Private Ryan", he didn't say much. I was shocked he even watched it at all. After a long silence, he abruptly stated "the smell of war can't be captured in a movie". I never asked him any details and he has since passed. It is one of my bigger regrets. His experiences died with him. I should have asked.
- Would you state war has a smell? If so, could you describe it?
- Is there a movie that you've seen that you felt captured WWII better than any other?
War smells primarily of, how can I say it, it's whats the word when you see dead bodies? Traumatised. I cannot recall the smell itself.
Could you ask your Grandfather two questions please
Are you as proud of the UK now as you were when you were directly serving and...
What does he think of "Help for Heroes?"
No I'm not as proud of the UK. I believe the Great has gone out of Great Britain. People come to the country and are treated much better than I am.
It shouldn't be necessary, the Government should directly pay, however I do support it.
I'm an American who has had the privilege of living in the UK for going on three years. I must say, don't drop the Great in Great Britain yet, especially when heroes like you are still living there. Thank you for your service and Merry Christmas sir.
Merry Christmas and thank you.
What was your weapon of choice in WW2?
Bren gun. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bren_light_machine_gun It was very accurate. This was the main appeal of it. The Browning was also good, firing 1200 rounds a minute. Our rifles were P14s used in the first World War. They were Canadian and also very accurate, a good shot could get 10 rounds off a minute. The American's were much better for spraying.
1200 rounds per minute from a browning? Were they the kind you would mount on an airplane or what?
Similar. They could also be mounted on tripods.
What's your fondest memory of the service?
Meeting my wife! (She's in the room at the moment, take notes guys)
First off, thank you for your service and happy holidays. What would you say was your biggest accomplishment during your service?
Making Europe a safer place for everybody to live in and to just be lucky to survive the war.
Did many friends survive? Do you have or had contact with people you served with? Such as ww2 soldier meetings etc
I have only contact with 1 person. He were an ex-sailor on a motor mine-sweeper, we were attached to his boat for food and sleeping when based in Cherbourg, France.
What was the most memorable moment of the war for you?
The end of the war, there were celebrations in the streets and parties everywhere. Everybody danced.
Any close calls while sweeping for mines?
Yes, plenty. I was coxswain on the #1 leading boat and the 4th boat hit a contact mine and exploded, killing all but 2 men. Later on I went to Brest, France and I commanded the first boat in, despite only being Sergeant. My Lieutenant was on the 4th boat, the men favoured myself instead of him.
What's your opinion of the level of training current special forces currently commit to? What was it like passing selection and getting into the SBS? Thanks for the AMA by the way, I've been considering joining the forces when I'm older.
Twice to my knowledge they've had to lower the standards for joining the forces because people of my caliber are simply not about anymore. We used to run to school, now parents take children by car. We had to work at a much younger age too, we just tended to be much fitter.
Passing selection was very difficult, when we used to do assault course,s most people were worried about getting round, but I was a big-headed and had to try and beat the record. Many times I succeeded.
Err, joining the forces is a good life as long as you do what you're told and keep clean.
Thanks for the advice. I'm currently an Air Cadet but I was looking toward joining the Navy/Royal Marines.
You want to join the Navy or RM? They are very different beasts. Be sure to get on as many work experience trips/regimental visits as possible as this should enable you to make your mind up either way. Be sure not to mention the air cadets.
Join the Navy by all means, it offers a good life on the open air, keeps you healthy... also good pension.
What was it like serving your country? Are you proud that you did? And if you can, what was your most funniest moment you can remember? Thanks!
I was born on 6th February 1922 in Desborough, Northamptonshire, England. I was very proud at the time to serve my country and when they played the regimental march of the Royal Marines, my chest used to swell out an extra 2 inches.
My funniest moment is when a boat turned over and 3 sailors swam away, one of them shouted "I'm drowning!" All of a sudden he stood up, realising it was so shallow he could walk!
There was always good humour on the ships, we were like brothers.
Also, what did your average day consist of?
Training; 9 months square bashing, that means drill, with breaks for school, physical training and sports. Then, 6 weeks Navy gunnery, including hydraulics. Then 6 weeks field training, camouflage, firing rifles and machine guns etc, then a fortnight on parade until you passed out. We were paid 2 shillings a day. After training you got 3 shillings a day.
On a ship at sea; you done 4 hours on, 4 off, therefore you never had the same shift every day, from 4pm in the afternoon to 8pm at night, you done 2 hour shifts on dog watch.
Thank you so much for answering sir!
Thank you and Merry Christmas.
My ears perked up when i read Northamptonshire. Glad to hear something about this county that isn't deathly boring.
Northamptonshire is still my home, before the war, there was always plenty of work because of the shoe trade. Since, everything has been outsourced. This compared to other areas of the country where there was no work. I worked in the shoe trade, which offered good pay, until I was 17, when I joined up.
Did you get married before or after the war?
We got married after the war, 1954 in both Germany and England.
Why both countries?
First we married in a register in Luton, UK and a year or so later in Germany because my wife's priest was there.
I'm interested in how you met your German wife. Did the fact that she was German make it difficult for you guys to be together?
I first met her in 1954, I was a Royal Marie volunteer reserve and I belonged to the Reine Raiding Squadron. She was on a swing bridge. Myself and a Corporal heard screaming and thought somebody had fell into the river. We ran over thinking they were drowning. Turns out his future wife and her friend were screaming, fighting over ownership of an umbrella. I knew immediately she would be my future wife..
What were some of the most shocking images/sounds that you will never forget?
Shouting and screaming and how the bodies lay on the ground. (I'm sorry, I would ask him for further detail but it is Christmas Day)
Did you serve with any Canadians? If so, what were your thoughts on them?
(Thinking hard) No, I never did with Canadians.
What was the role of the SBS after the Normandy landings? Was there still a need for it once the troops were on the Continent?
I never saw them afterwards. After 5 days in France, I was sent on 7 days leave, after which I had to report to Portland for mine sweeping, which I had never done before. I never saw the crew again.
Did you ever feel like the Americans were too conceited?
Yes you could say so, but once you got to know them, it was just their way. I had never personally lived like it, their food was immensely better than our own. I was raised on a farm with 4 brothers and 1 sister.
From what I hear american food is still much better than british food. haha Im sure having a german wife you eat pretty well. Thanks for your service and have a merry christmas.
and a Merry Christmas to you too! (He laughed)
Wouldn't growing up on a farm make your food better? I live in one of the biggest agricultural states in America and thats usually how it goes down with farm boys.
Growing up on a farm was very hard work. You had to get used to working from an early age. At 9, I helped my father with shire horses, ploughing the fields. When I had free time, I was always climbing trees and many a time fell and broke bones. It was a mile and a half to school and we often used to run it. We also used to catch rabbits and sell them for a shilling a time at the local village.
Merry Christmas! Thank him for his service! Having fought for freedom, what does he think about the state of world freedom today? Also, advice for living a long, wonderful life?
Freedom today is based on a Government where all parties don't listen to the wishes of the people, we should bring all the troops back from Afghanistan etc, its a no-win situation. Stop giving as much aid to other countries and fully support the NHS. (Sorry, he goes slightly off tangent)
The only way I can think of is that I'm the eldest of the eldest of the eldest. If you can't pick your parents I cannot help I'm afraid. I smoked 60 a day at my peak and never started until I was 25. I stopped 40 years ago after loses most of my friends through smoking related illnesses. Your veins and arteries close, and you'll eventually suffer with your circulation. I also drink little. Therefore don't smoke and drink little.
What did you do besides mine sweeping? Where did your ship patrol? Did you ever see a UBoat?
Ferrying troops ashore from larger boats that came in and clearing underwater obstacles. We didn't have a ship with us, we towed over from Portland, UK to Utah Beach, France. This involved not using the engine and just simply steering. I saw an Eboat (motor torpedo boat) once. They were exceptionally fast and we were offered an extensive amount of money to capture one. When we did finally capture one, it had been offered to the Admiralty, who were the top Echelon of the Navy,but they turned it down. One time when I was on HMS Erebus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Erebus_%28I02%29, when we were coming back from shelling Ostend, Belgium. 6 Eboats came out the mists early morning and fired torpedoes. I didn't know whether or not to jump ship. In the meantime, they'd gone underneath. Luckily this was before they made their torpedoes magnetic. This is why I believed we survived.
First, thanks a lot for your service mate. Was there a point where you thought you wouldn't be coming back home?
Thank you and Merry Christmas. (I am unsure whether I should ask him on Christmas, apologies)
My question: What did you get for Christmas?
Loads of socks, big tin of Cadbury's Hot Chocolate. What can you give a man who has everything? Pjs too.
What was your opinion of the Germans during te war? Did you hate them? Respect?
We both respected each other.
What was the scariest moment in his life? Regardless of whether or not it was during his time serving in the SBS
Whilst in Cherbourg harbour, I had to take out the commander in charge of all the mine sweeping to look at a suspicious mine in the harbour. He said "take me along side it so I may inspect it". It was a contact mine and if you touched any part of it, it would surely detonate. He said "go closer" and so I stemmed the tide with the boat and hitched over, he put his foot each side of one of the contacts. He said "just as I thought" and we continued onwards. He must of had a lot of faith in my ability!
Were the Germans as morally brutal as Hollywood portrays them?
I never came across it. We actually had a lot of respect for each other. When it came to it, it was either them or you.
The English food was just a basic well balanced diet. It was comprised of Ships Biscuits, which you had to soak because they were so hard, while the cocoa had grease on top of it.
Later on, they improved, American's food was much better in every way. Even had cigarettes issued!
If you were a mine sweeper then I am safe to assume that you spent a good portion of ww2 in the north sea, in particular near Norway and Denmark?
Also, why were British units attached to American units on Omaha? I thought someone like you would have landed on Gold or Sword.
Yes I was in the North Sea many times. When I was on the Erebus. There were thousands of British troops, some handled landing craft crews that took Americans in. When I attended, the 55th Anniversary of Cherbourg, we received a book all about the war with the Americans. The British were hardly mentioned.
Thank you, I am not sure what more I can say. But, one small question, what have you enjoyed most in the last few years!
Thank you and Merry Christmas. What I enjoy most these days is just having my family around me.
Wow an SBS AMA. This is incredible. What was your selection process like back in the day? I hear how difficult it is now and I'm interested as to what it was like back then Thank you for your phenomenal service. You make every one of us proud.
I nearly wasn't selected because I have flat feet which my daughter has inherited. Her son is the one helping me write this. The only time is made a difference was when I was stood for too long on a ceremonial parade and they ached. Quite a few were turned down. You had to be 'A1', for starters you couldn't wear glasses.
What was your ships or your flotillas specific role in the Normandy landings, like what beach?
Do you ever have any encounters with u-boats, or were you more inner coastal? How far out did you sweep?
Thank you for your service in the war. The mine sweeping men are some of the unsung heroes of the war, no doubt you saved many lives.
Landing was our specific role. We swept in the outer harbors first, then the inner harbor. You'd always work your way in. They were many sunken ships which blocked our path.
Thank you very much, Merry Christmas.
Thank you for serving and Merry Christmas. I'm a U.S. Marine and was wondering if you ever encountered any U.S. Marines in your life and how you felt about them as a whole, since you were a Royal Marine?
I've met lots of US Marines, we are very close to them. In one of my anniversary meetings, we done a parade in London, around 5 years ago. We saw a US Marines band, they were of very high standard. In WW2, some of our went with them to San Diego to train and some of them came to us to train.
Thank you for your service
Thank you and Merry Christmas. At the time I was only too happy to serve the country.
I saw in another post you landed on D-Day at Omaha beach. How did you feel on the beach seeing it all happen? Also, I'm curious how one gets around with such large brass balls.
Very scared when I was on the beach. (He laughed at the other comment.)
Thank god nobody asked if he would rather fight 1 horse-sized german or 100 duck-sized germans.
Er, 1 big 'un. One big knockout. I'm quick on my feet.
Initial reaction to the Hiroshima bombing?
It was a terrible deed but it saved millions of lives.
What was/is your most vivid war time memory? Good, bad, sad, seemingly meaningless doesn't matter.
Everyone would expect some intense experience but that's not always the way memories work.
September 3rd, 1939 when they announced on church parade that we had declared war with German.
how did you and your boys feel about the mission?
how did you guys view Hitler?
Hitler was a madman... Nothing else. That covers it.
No need to ask questions. Just thanks.
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