Captain Sir Tom Moore

Captain Sir Tom Moore: His Service In WW2

Captain Sir Tom Moore

Captain Sir Tom Moore, the veteran who raised more than £32m for the NHS during the coronavirus crisis, has died aged 100.

Capt Sir Tom, a former tank commander, served in India, Burma and Sumatra during the Second World War.

He had been training as a civil engineer before he enlisted into the British Army shortly after the outbreak of World War Two.

"I didn't mind at all," he said during an interview in 2020 in the ITV documentary, 'Captain Tom's War'.

"I mean at 20 you don't think too hard about it.

'I thought" 'Oh great, it's going to be great.'"

He joined 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment (8 DWR) and was based in Cornwall, helping to protect the UK coastline amid fears of a German invasion. 

Later that year, he was selected for officer training and commissioned as a second lieutenant on 28 June 1941. 

Captain Tom
Captain Sir Tom Moore during his military service.

In October 1941, Capt Tom became a member of the Royal Armoured Corps after 8 DWR had been redesignated as an armoured unit from an infantry battalion to operate Churchill tanks.

Capt Tom then joined 9th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment, which had also been redesignated as the 146th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps.

He was initially deployed to Mumbai and then Kolkata, taking part in the Battle of Ramree Island.

He was then posted to Burma as part of the 14th Army, with the aim of driving out Nazi allies Japan from the then British colony in south-east Asia.

Capt Sir Tom, an expert motorcyclist, was tasked with riding a motorbike to the frontlines when tanks could not reach it. 

"During the night, I was at the forefront with the Indian Army, fighting the night Japanese," he said during the Captain Tom's War documentary.

"And then, in the morning, when we thought the Japanese had gone home, my motorcycle came back into the picture.

"The only way of getting to the front from the tanks was on a motorcycle through several miles of jungle, which fell to me again.

"I went back to the regiment and that was a signal that the roads were clear and people came out again."

Captain Sir Tom
The veteran reached the rank of Captain during his time with the British Army.

The dense jungles of Burma provided difficult conditions for a number of reasons.

Capt Sir Tom recalled seeing spiders as big as the "palm of your hand" and even had to battle dengue fever.

The campaign was one of the most gruelling of the six-year conflict but also one of the most unknown.

It was known as the 'Forgotten War' and the 14th Army referred to themselves as the 'Forgotten Army' as the fighting was often overlooked by battles in western Europe.

"They [the Japanese forces] were quite a formidable force because there were people who didn't mind if they died," Capt Tom said.

"They were awful, they were what we say, were completely without morals. They starved people to death and didn't care. That was bad."

"I was only 21 or 22. You don't get very frightened at 22."

Capt Sir Tom continued his military links after leaving the service, pictured here inspecting soldiers passing out at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in September 2020 (Picture: PA).
Capt Sir Tom inspecting soldiers passing out at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in September 2020 (Picture: PA).

Allied and commonwealth forces spent more than three years trying to force back Japan.

Eventually, the campaign in Burma ended in 1945 as Japan surrendered to the Allies and the Second World War finally ended.

Following Japan's surrender, Capt Sir Tom was sent to Sumatra and by this time, he had risen to the rank of captain.

On his return to the UK, he served as an instructor at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School in Bovington, Dorset.

Reflecting on his time in the military, Capt Sir Tom said: "I can't say I didn't enjoy myself because I did... being in the Army, I really enjoyed being in the Army."

After leaving the Army, Capt Sir Tom worked in the construction industry.

He first worked as a sales manager before becoming managing director of a concrete manufacturer.

However, his links to the military continued despite his new career, as did his motorcycle passion and he raced in a number of events.

Capt Sir Tom inspecting young soldiers at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, September 2020 (Picture: PA).
Capt Sir Tom inspecting young soldiers at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, September 2020 (Picture: PA).

In April 2020, aged 99, Capt Sir Tom launched his NHS fundraising challenge, aiming to walk 100 laps of his garden ahead of his 100th birthday.

Quickly his challenge gained worldwide attention and he became a national hero.

As he completed his 100th lap, he was given a guard of honour by soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.

After crossing the line he said he was glad to be "surrounded by the right sort of people".

He raised more than £32m for the NHS during the coronavirus crisis with his walking challenge and even landed a number one single with a charity cover of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

His fundraising efforts were recognised by the military, and he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in time for his 100th birthday.

He was also knighted by the Queen for his remarkable work.