BEAMINSTER: The war veteran Frank Moore has died at the age of 90 – after having fulfilled his ambition to see a war memorial in the town Square.

The World War II veteran who served with the 1st Airborne Division from 1942, headed the committee to see the war memorial returned to its central location – a project that took years..

Fellow memorial committee member Tony Greenham from the Royal British Legion said: “It is with great sadness I have to report on the passing of Frank Moore who has died at the age of 90 .

“It was his idea way back to have a memorial and he said it was to remember people who had no known grave and this is a way of remembering them.

“What a man he was, he was very determined. He made it out in his wheelchair to sell poppies for two days for the Poppy Appeal this year and wanted to go on parade for Remembrance.

“After that he told his son he’d achieved everything he wanted.

“He was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”

Mr Moore and his wife Barbara left Beaminster four years ago to be nearer family in West Sussex but despite failing health came back to open the memorial this summer.

Rear Admiral Robin Musson, who took over from Mr Moore on the war memorial committee paid tribute to the old soldier.

He said: “The principle reason he was driven by this determination to have a war memorial in Beaminster was because he was involved in the Battle of Arnhem in 1944.

“He had a pretty tough time, well they all did. He had people killed all around him. He spoke very movingly at the dedication of the war memorial.

“He was talking about one chap who attacked a German tank, his anti tank weapon didn’t work and the tank targeted him with a flame thrower. It took him three weeks to die.

“Another chap was wounded and taken down to the cellar of a Dutch house. The Germans came and threw a grenade in and put himself in its way, dying instantly, to protect the Dutch civilians.”

Rear Admiral Musson said the old soldier was charming, patient and very determined.

He said: “It was a huge joy for him to be able to come along to the dedication in July.

“On the way back they had an accident in the car but he was completely unconcerned because he had achieved his aim.

“He’d clearly been marked for life by his experiences of the war.”

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

The Beaminster war memorial Mr Moore fought so hard for.

Mr Moore was an agricultural engineer and designed a special mower for the War Graves Commission to use in its cemeteries.

The lawnmower was handed over at a special presentation at the Arnhem Cemetery ten years ago.

Mr Moore presented the commission with the specially adapted mower, complete with its Pegasus emblem, the badge of the 1st Airborne Division.

It is something Mr Moore said at the time he was proud to be doing – his way of paying his respects to his fallen comrades – 40 of whom were buried at the cemetery.

Mr Moore joined the 1st Airborne Division in 1942 and spent time in north Africa and Italy getting ready for the Sicily operation.

He said of that campaign when we interviewed him ten years ago: “That was fairly disastrous. The Americans let their gliders off too early and 600 men were drowned before firing a shot. The only thing I can say is that the 82nd Airborne division hated their pilots more than we did. They were basically civilian pilots stuck in a uniform, they were not very good at that stage.”

Mr Moore seemed to be blessed with the proverbial nine lives during the war.

He lost one of them when he was posted to be junior dogsbody at HQ and had been promised by his CRA (Commander Royal Artillery) that he could go in their glider. In the event it was overloaded and he couldn’t.

It crashed in a river bed and everyone was killed.

The same happened at Arnheim when the glider he should have been in, if his batch commander hadn’t wanted him to go early, was shot down.

He lost another life when he was shot at in a church tower at Arnhem and the tank guns were pointing just a few feet too low. Mr Moore has some remarkable stories to tell and his luck held even at Arnhem where 8,000 of the 10,000 men there died in the nine-day battle.

He said: “We landed 63 miles into enemy lines but the ground army never did reach us. I was very lucky I was hit in the legs – only mortar splinters and a couple of chaps helped me.”

One man’s death was particularly poignant for Mr Moore.

“I never knew his name. He was from a Dorset regiment and he was standing next to me when a machine gun opened fire. It missed me and hit him in the neck. We cut his jacket off him and tried to put something over the wound.

“He said he didn’t feel any pain. At the aid post you virtually had to tread over people, with corpses stacked up outside.

“We put him in the back of the church where sadly he died. I never knew his name.”

Eventually by a set of unlikely coincidences he found out the man was called Tom Rose and his sister in law came from Sherborne. She put him in touch with the man’s sister and her husband and son.

“They were very happy because I was the first person they’d met that knew what had happened to him.

“There were hundreds like that.”