1 April 1918 – Lieutenant James David Moses

A studio portrait of Lt. Moses, in uniform while with the 114th “Brock’s Rangers” (Haldimand) Battalion.
Courtesy: The Moses Family.

On this day in 1918, Lieutenant James David Moses is killed in action while serving with the Royal Air Force. Moses, of the Delaware band, from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, was born on 10 June 1891. A school teacher before enlisting, Moses first served as an officer with the 114th “Brock’s Rangers” (Haldimand) and 107th “Timber Wolf” (Winnipeg) Battalions, and later as an air gunner and forward artillery observer with 57 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. On 1 April 1918, he was reported missing and later confirmed killed. Sadly, Lt. Moses’ body was never recovered; he is listed on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. Fatefully, 1 April 1918 was also the official “birth date” of the newly formed Royal Air Force (RAF), and so, it appears, one of the first casualties of the famed RAF was in fact, an Indigenous person from Canada. Lieutenant James David Moses was just 26 years old.

Upon receiving notice of his son’s fate, James’ grieving father, Nelson Moses, wrote the poem “The Missing Airman”
Courtesy: The Moses Family.
The “missing-in-action” telegram, received by Lt. Moses’ father on 5 April 1918.
Courtesy: The Moses Family.
In 2017, our Beaverbrook Vimy Prize group was able to visit the Arras Flying Services Memorial and honour Lt. Moses.
Credit: Katy Whitfield, The Vimy Foundation 2017.
Arras Flying Services Memorial, France.
Credit: Katy Whitfield, The Vimy Foundation 2017.

 

 

Lt. Moses (6) and fellow officers of the 107th “Timber Wolf” (Winnipeg) Battalion, including future-Brigadier and Magistrate, Oliver Milton Martin (1). The 107th Battalion was one of Canada’s two largely Indigenous formations of the war. The other was the 114th Battalion into which both Martin and Moses had originally enlisted.