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Richard Valentine MOORE, GC, CBE

No. & Rank at the Time of Action: Temporary Sub-Lieutenant

Unit/Occupation: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Bomb Disposal)

Date and Place of Birth: 14th February 1916, London

Family: Only son of Randall and Ellen. Husband of Ruth

Early Life: Educated at Strand School and London University (BSc in mechanical engineering)

Date and Place of GC Action:

The London Gazette: 27th December 1940

Citation: "The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty, to:-

Temporary Lieutenant Robert Selby Armitage, R.N.V.R.

Temporary Sub-Lieutenant (Sp.) Richard Valentine Moore, R.N.V.R.

Probationary Temporary Sub-Lieutenant (Sp.) John Herbert Babington, R.N.V.R."

Account of Deed: Sub-Lieutenant Moore was awarded the George Cross for gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty in connection with bomb disposal. Although he had no practical training, he was called upon in an emergency and disarmed five mines. CPO George Wheeler was awarded the BEM (Mil Div for gallantry) in this GC action

Remarks: After leaving the Navy, Dick Moore was employed at AERE, Harwell 1946-53; Department of Atomic Energy, Risley 1953; Design and Construction of Calder Hall 1953-57; Chief Design Engineer 1955; UKAEA 1944; Director of Reactor Design 1958-61; Faraday Lecturer 1966; Hon DTech, Bradford 1970.

Additional Information: Moore's awards and promotions were announced in the London Gazette as follows:

RV Moore to be T/SubLt 1.12.39 (seniority 15.10.39) (LG 2.4.40, p.1915)

T.Sub.Lt.(Sp) R.V. Moore RNVR awarded G.C. Torpedo & Mining Department "for Bomb Disposal." (LG 27.12.40. Presented 17.6.41.

T/Elect Sub Lt R V Moore GC to be T/Elect Lt 14.2.41 (LG 4.4.41, p.1956)

Richard Valentine Moore Esq GC, Managing Director, Reactor Group, UK Atomic Energy Authority awarded a CBE (Civil)." (LG 8.6.63, p.4802)

Final Rank: Lieutenant Commander

Other Decorations/Medals: CBE

GC Location/Sale History:

Date and Place of Death: 25th April 2003, Warrington, Lancashire

Cause of Death:


Obituary: (The Daily Telegraph, 29th April 2003)

Lieutenant-Commander Dick Moore, GC who has died aged 87, was awarded the George Cross for defusing unexploded bombs during the Second World War; later, he played a prominent part in the development of atomic energy. With his fellow scientist Brian Goodlet at the Atomic Energy Authority site at Harwell in Berkshire, Moore started experimenting with harnessing atomic energy to provide electricity supplies, deemed a necessity as coal supplies ran short. His 1950 paper prompted the decision to go ahead with the Calder Hall project on the present Sellafield site in Cumbria, which became one of the world's first large-scale industrial power plants. Three years later the father of atomic energy in Britain, Sir John Cockcroft, hailed, with a touch of unscientific hyperbole, his two proteges. They were the "backroom boys" who were doing most to bring about Britain's second industrial revolution, he declared.

In June 1940 Moore was serving with the Naval Unexploded Bomb Department when the Luftwaffe started bombing British ports and mining their approaches. The German non-contact mines, triggered by a ship's magnetic field, posed a particular hazard, since they could not be swept by conventional methods. But so confident were the Germans about the infallibility of their mechanism that on the night of September 16 1940, the Luftwaffe parachuted 25 mines on to London, where they caused widespread damage at roof-top or ground level.

When some 17 of them failed to explode, Sub-Lieutenant Moore and Lieutenant-Commander Dick Ryan of the Royal Navy's Torpedo and Mining School at Portsmouth volunteered to deal with them. Ticking had been heard in their first mine, but it was silent when they arrived to examine its nose, which was buried at an angle of 30 degrees. Although they knew there was a self-destruction mechanism with a 22-second delay clock, they could not tell when the clock had stopped or be sure of preventing it from restarting. If the clock started to tick while an officer was working on a mine, he had to run for it, and sometimes he died if he did not reach cover. The operation to neutralise the first three mines was successfully completed and Ryan formed two teams, each manned by an officer and a petty officer, to deal with the remainder.

On the night of September 20, four mines fell on Dagenham but only one exploded. Moore and an assistant accompanied police officers to the site of two of the unexploded devices. One had fallen on a road outside a factory which had been evacuated. On examination, it could be seen that the impact had distorted the fuse ring so that it could not be unscrewed. Moore borrowed a drill from the factory and drilled out two gaps on opposite sides of the ring so that it broke in two, thus allowing the fuse to be extracted. He was in the process of removing the mine's magnetic trigger when Ryan arrived from neutralising another mine. Having satisfied himself that the mine which Moore was handling had been made safe, Ryan went to a warehouse some 200 yards away, to deal with the fourth mine. As he and his assistant entered the building the mine, which was hanging by its parachute, exploded, killing both men. Moore was one of the first to be invested with the George Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on June 17 1941; Ryan and his assistant received posthumous GCs.

Richard Valentine Moore was born on February 14 1916 in London and educated at the Strand School and at London University, where he took a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He worked for the County of London Electricity Supply Company from 1936 until the outbreak of the Second World War. Commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1939, he joined the Naval Unexploded Bomb Department from the cruiser Effingham, aboard which he had been serving as an assistant torpedo officer. Moore served with the mines counter-measures section at the Admiralty until appointed torpedo officer of the light cruiser Dido in the Mediterranean in 1942. He saw action in support of the Eighth Army in the coastal waters of North Africa and during Operation Vigorous, when Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian tried to fight a relief convoy through to Malta. After being involved in the Navy's support for the Allied landings in Sicily, Salerno and Anzio, Moore served as deputy director of Torpedoes and Mining on the Admiralty delegation in Washington DC for the last year of the war.

On leaving the Navy in 1946, Moore went to work for the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, where he was appointed maintenance manager of the research reactor Bepo. Soon he was drawing on his pre-war experience to conduct a study on whether a larger reactor could produce heat at cheaper prices.

With his service experience Moore was frequently chosen to be the public spokesman on atomic issues. When Georgi Malenkov, the Russian energy minister, was shown round the Calder Hall plant in 1956, it was Moore, by then chief design engineer, who assured the press that care had been taken not to tell him either the station's output or commercial value. After the construction of Calder Hall was completed, Moore became director of reactor design at the UK Atomic Energy Authority and managing director of the establishment's reactor group. As such, he was the driving force behind the advanced gas-cooled reactors, which have led to today's more efficient nuclear power. In 1966, he toured the country giving his Faraday lecture "Nuclear Power Today and Tomorrow".

Dick Moore, who was appointed CBE in 1963, was a quiet, modest man, and devoted himself to golf and gardening in retirement. He died on Friday (25th April 2003). He married, in 1944, Ruby Edith Pair. She predeceased him with one of their three sons.


Town/County Connections: Appleton, Cheshire