Alfred Charles Moist was born early in 1887 in the Devon village of Chudleigh Knighton. His parents were William and Mary Moist, and he was the youngest of eight children. William was a clay miner and his neighbours – who included the young Thomas Willcocks – all worked in the same trade.
William died in 1899, leaving Mary to raise the family alone. By the time of the 1901 census, her widowed daughter Emma had moved back in with her son, and was working from home as a dressmaker. Alfred, meanwhile, and his two older brothers Frank and Reginald were all employed as brick dressers and together they earned enough to keep the family going.
The next census – compiled in 1911 – found Alfred still living with Mary, but the household had a different set up. Emma had remarried and was living in nearby Ilsington with her publican husband. Another of Alfred’s sisters, Bessie, had moved in with her daughter, Florence, and was keeping house for her mother. Reginald was also still living at home and was still employed by the brickyard. Alfred, however, had found now work as a police constable.
Mary passed away in the spring of 1913, by which point, Alfred had met Edith Mary Sampson, a labourer’s daughter from North Devon. The couple married in Broadhempston, near Totnes, on 21st November 1913.
War came to Europe, and Alfred enlisted in December 1915. His job in the police force, however, meant that he was initially placed on reserve, and he was not formally mobilised until April 1918, when he joined the Coldstream Guards. His enlistment papers show that he stood 5ft 11ins (1.8m) tall and weighed in at 10st 4lbs (65kg).
Guardsman Moist was barracked in London, but fell ill in September 1918. He was admitted to the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital with a haematoma and renal calculus (kidney stones). He spent a total of four months in hospital before being discharged back to duty.
At this point, Alfred’s trail goes cold. The next record for him comes in the form of the record of his death, which was registered in Hampstead, London. This suggests that he was either still in the Coldstream Guards or that he had been hospitalised again because of his previous illness. Either way, he died on 28th August 1919, at the age of 32 years old.
Alfred Charles Moist’s body was brought back to Devon. He lies at rest in the Graveyard of St Paul’s Church in his home village of Chudleigh Knighton.