Extraordinary story from Leicester’s own captain Thomas Moore who was told he was ‘destined for prison’

Thomas Moore was 14 when his teacher told him that his education in Braunstone meant he was destined for a life behind bars.

He was born in Anstey in 1931 where his father worked as a farm worker and grandfather, village scavenger and gravedigger.

In 1935, his father moved the family downtown to “one up, one down” slums in search of better employment opportunities.

He then became a trench digger for the electrical board.

He was involved in the development of Braunstone Town for the “upper echelons of the working class” and obtained a council house.

Back then, Thomas said, the other side of Braunstone had a bad reputation, as did the children who lived there.

He remembers the heavy policing in the area during the evenings when he was in his early teens.

“It was like that and we accepted it,” said the 89-year-old.



Today Thomas Moore lives in Loughborough with his wife Nancy, 88.

As early as the age of nine, Thomas said he spent much of his school day skipping school.

“I used to like to walk, you see, I much prefer to go for a walk,” he says. “I would walk to Western Park to Glenfield”

Sometimes Thomas would walk to Bradgate Park where a military training camp was set up at the time.

Despite his lack of attendance, he performed well on his graduation tests, granting him a job in a high school.

But with little income in the family household, Thomas could not afford to attend high school in Hinckley Road until he left at the age of 14 for work.

As he was about to leave school, Thomas had a discussion with his teacher about his career options. He was told that being from Braunstone his options were limited.

“He said I didn’t have a lot of choice,” Thomas said.

“He said, ‘you come from Braunstone – you will probably end up at Welford Road [prison] or the army. ‘”

Seeing little prospect for himself at home, Thomas thought he would be better off in the military – a decision his mother would not accept.

Instead, he held various other jobs, until his mother passed away two years later and he decided to pursue a career in the military.

“Back then, if you were breathing and warming up, you were in it,” he said.

As a teenager in the military, Thomas and other new recruits were treated harshly.

“The attitude was that the more you suffered as a boy soldier, the more you would deal with what was to come.

Thomas started in the military as a bugle and was later placed with the medics, which he said he didn’t kindly like.

“I wanted to be a boy of glory, I had visions of being in a tank,” he said.

After joining the field ambulance, which was a frontline medical team, he rose through the military ranks and throughout his long career he served in post-war Germany, the Middle East , Africa, the Far East and the Arabian Gulf.



Thomas was presented with this plaque by Colonel M.Razif Idris, Defense Advisor of the Malaysian High Commission for his service in the country.
Thomas received this plaque from Colonel M.Razif Idris, Defense Advisor of the Malaysian High Commission for his service in the country.

He retired as a captain, but not until he discovered a passion for art and poetry after being posted to Germany again in the 1970s.

While in the country, he lived in a rural German town and was allowed to move around the region between his responsibilities by working with German officers involved in diplomatic affairs between the military and the government.

One evening, on their way home, Thomas and his driver stopped for the evening in a small village.

Unbeknownst to them, the village, called Worspwede, was an artists ‘colony and is home to some of the people who would become a big influence in Thomas’ life.

“We stayed at this Avant-Garde hotel where I was introduced to a man called Bruno,” Thomas said.

Bruno Fischer-Uwe was a teacher and painter who had previously served in the German army.

When they met, the couple engaged in an “interesting conversation” and Thomas was invited to visit the painter in his studio and at his home.



A painting by Thomas Moore, 89, who discovered his artistic flair while stationed in Germany.
A painting by Thomas Moore, 89, who discovered his artistic flair while stationed in Germany

After that, I was never far from the place, “said Thomas.” Bruno had a brilliant mind. “

The artist taught him to paint and encouraged his interest in poetry and before long Thomas had become “somewhat of a celebrity in [his] own right “.

Local German newspapers wrote about him as the “painter and poet in uniform”.

Thomas said the British Army had suspicions about its close relationship with local Germans, but after being examined they found nothing.

He was invited to do various exhibitions with Bruno, so after retiring from the army in 1979, Thomas returned to Germany.

One of his paintings sold for over 10,000 deutsche mark – the German currency before it became the euro.



German newspaper article on Thomas Moore of Leicester.
Local German newspapers wrote about Thomas Moore, “ the painter and poet in uniform ”

Thomas also continued to write, resulting in a collection of poems that were often a dark and profound glimpse into his experiences in the military.

When he returned to England, Thomas’ life continued to prove his former high school teacher wrong.

He graduated from the Open University with a Bachelor of Arts and obtained a Diploma in Information Technology and became a Planning Officer for Buckinghamshire County Council.

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Today he lives with his wife Nancy, 88, in Loughborough, keeping his memories of Braunstone’s growth close to his heart.

“I suspect there will be other girls and boys in Braunstone today who will probably be said the same as I do – but there’s no reason they can’t do what they want. in life, ”he said.

Thomas’ extraordinary life is recorded by Leicester writer Alison Mott, who hopes to publish a book about him.

She has also collected her works of art and poetry in a book called “The Road to Worpswede”.


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