Sapper Lee Arvel Moss

This is part of a series of three essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Tennessee.

The grave of Private Lee Moss
The grave of Private Lee Moss

Lee Arvel Moss was born at Vigor, a community near Athens, in McMinn County, Tennessee on 4 March 1887, the second of the five children and eldest son of Hugh and Cammie Moss.[1]

At the time of his enlistment he was living in Montreal and, although a blacksmith by trade, he was working as a steam fitter. He was a member of the Militia, serving with 4th Field Company, Canadian Engineers. He enlisted on 10 August 1916 for service with the 5th Pioneer Battalion, giving his year of birth as 1883, and was allocated the regimental number 1078503.

Private Moss arrived in England onboard the SS Metagama on 6 December 1916. The Battalion was largely absorbed by the Canadian Engineers but Moss was transferred for service with Canadian Railway Troops. While awaiting movement to France he was promoted to Corporal. He crossed the Channel on 24 February 1917 and joined the 4th Battalion. For one reason or another he chose to revert to the ranks after his arrival in France.

Canadian Railway Troops had been formed to provide trained and experienced men to construct and maintain railways of all gauges in the five British Army areas in France and Belgium.[2]

In May 1918, Private Moss reported sick and was soon diagnosed as suffering from tuberculosis. He was admitted to a series of hospitals in France before being evacuated to the United Kingdom on 8 June. He was finally evacuated to Canada on 20 September on the hospital ship HMHS Neuralia. He was admitted to Drummond Military Convalescent Hospital in Montreal pending his discharge, which occurred on 30 October 1918, and he then became the responsibility of the Invalided Soldiers Commission.[3]

After his discharge, he was admitted to the Laurentian Chest Hospital at Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts—well known for its clean air and for the treatment of tuberculosis. Sadly, he did not recover and died there on 19 August 1919. His body was returned to Tennessee and he was buried on the western side of Short Creek Cemetery in McMinn County. The cemetery is actually 12 miles west of Athens, on Cemetery Hill beside Short Creek Baptist Church. He is commemorated by a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone, which is inscribed: ‘I’ll Sail the wide seas no more. I’ve anchored my soul in heaven.’ His mother, father and sisters are also buried here.

Short Creek Cemetery, McMinn County
Short Creek Cemetery, McMinn County

Private Lee Moss is commemorated on page 540 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 16 November. His war service earned him the British War Medal 1914-20 and the Victory Medal. His medals and memorial plaque and scroll were sent to his father and his mother received the Memorial Cross.

The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Lee Moss
The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Lee Moss

His brother, George, served with the United States 82nd Division during the First World War.

The Preacher’s Kid ‘ at for the photograph of the grave of Private Moss.
The War Graves Photographic Project for the photograph of his grave.

1. (Back) Hugh Boyd Moss (16 April 1859-18 December 1933) married Carmeline Marilla Stokes (25 December 1859-21 August 1931) on 25 December 1881 in McMinn County, Tennessee. Mary Elizabeth (later Bonine) (20 October 1882-23 July 1964); Annie Belle (29 September 1890-17 November 1936); John George (21 August 1894-4 September 1978); and Charles Feallen (7 September 1899-1 December 1966).
2. (Back) Following a request to Canada for a railway construction unit for service in France, the Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps was formed in the spring of 1915, largely from men of the Canadian Pacific Railway. This unit served under British command. The need for more railway construction troops resulted in the formation of Canadian Railway Troops in early 1917, also under command of the British General Headquarters. On 23 April 1918 it became the Corps of Canadian Railway Troops and by the end of the war comprised 1st-13th Battalions; it had absorbed the Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps; and also included No.13 Operating Company Light Railway, No.58 Operating Company Broad Gauge Railway, No.69 Wagon Erecting Company, and No.85 Engine Crew Company.
3. (Back) The Invalided Soldiers’ Commission was part of the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment. Upon discharge all officers and soldiers passed to the control of the Commission if they required ‘medical treatment on account of their suffering from tuberculosis, epilepsy, paralysis or other diseases likely to be of long duration or incurable, or on account of their being mentally deficient or insane’. See: Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment. (May 1918). Report of the Work of the Invalided Soldiers’ Commission. Ottawa: J De L Taché.

2 thoughts on “Sapper Lee Arvel Moss

  1. My grandfather, F. A. Moss, was a first cousin of Lee Moss. Grandfather was stationed near Austin, Texas WWI with U.S. Army Air Corp (before the U.S. Airforce was created). He was to be shipped to Europe, but almost died in New Jersey from Spanish Influenza. He lived a long life & is in the same cemetery.


    1. Thank you very much for the note about your grandfather; I hope this piece about Lee Moss has been interesting for you and the family. Does anyone have a photo of him that I could use?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.