Photos of family killed by WW2 bomb buried in Rayleigh found at car boot sale

Echo: Reporter Lorne Spicer with war graves researcher Geoff Gillon Reporter Lorne Spicer with war graves researcher Geoff Gillon

A family of five who were wiped out in an air raid in 1940, and were buried in Rayleigh Cemetery, have had their story told and recorded thanks to a car boot find.

The Moss family, dad Cleveland Moss, 41, mum Olive Eliza Moss, 45, daughters Barbara and Margaret aged 16 and 13 and son Derek, 10, died just three days after they moved out of London to escape the Blitz.

It was in a box of various notes, cards and photographs I bought last year for £8 that I found a In Memoriam card for the family, which included a photograph of them taken just a few months before they all died and were buried in Number 1 grave in Rayleigh.

It was a tragic story but one that, with Remberance Sunday fast approaching needed to be told. Volunteer researcher and photographer for the War Graves Photographic Project, Geoffrey Gillon had already recorded the family’s headstone for his work but was delighted to put faces to the names.

He said, “I have seen In Memoriam cards but not very often and to have one with the photograph like this is something very special. It’s extremely rare and I have never heard of anything like this turning up at a bootsale. It will be a great addition to the information we register.”

A civilian memorial at the cemetery marking those who lost their lives in air raids in the town, does not include the Moss family, possibly because although buried there, they did not die in Rayleigh.

Geoffrey, from Galsworthy Road in Tilbury, added, “There are 17 official war graves here and around 67,000 people in the country died as the Moss family did. More and more we are remembering our war dead and there is increasingly a feeling – which I absolutely agree with - that our civilian war dead should be more recognised for the sacrifice they made, dying as a result of enemy action.”

The Moss family died at their new home in Brentwood and it seems the funeral, which was arranged by Stibbards in Hadleigh, was organised by the Thomas William Moss, Cleveland’s brother who lived in “Newlands” at 5, Esplanade Gardens, in Westcliff. Just a year after the tragedy Thomas was back at Rayleigh Cemetery burying his wife Florence who died at the age of 52. If anyone is related to the Moss family or knows anyone who is please get in touch as I would love to reunite them with this fascinating piece of civilian war history and it would be a happy ending to a tragic tale.

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