John (Jack) MORRIS

The Morris family was connected to the Hubbard and the Orridge families, both of which were to lose sons in the Great War. Jack’s family was a large one – eight brothers and one sister. 

At least two of the brothers – Charles and Ted – were known to have been exempt from military service, due to the work they were doing, but we know that in addition to Jack his younger brother Sam also served. Sam joined the Leicestershire Regiment, and was later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, where he seems to have served as a transport driver. Wounded in April 1918, he nevertheless survived the war.

Jack’s service records have not survived. He appears to have joined up in 1916, probably after the start of conscription. For a fuller consideration of this conclusion, see Bringing Them Home. By 1918, he was with the Dublin Fusiliers. At the beginning of May, two weeks after Jesse Mills had died defending the Bassee Canal, Jack Morris’ battalion was dug in just three or four miles to the north. The battle of the Lys, which had already claimed the lives of Thomas Clarke and Jesse Mills, was almost over, though Jack Morris was not to know that. On the 9th of May, they were relieved from their position in the front line near Vieux Berquin, and retired a few hundred yards to the tiny hamlet of La Papote, on the edge of the Nieppe Forest. It was here on 10th / 11th that they came under sustained gas shellfire. Jack died of wounds on the 11th, and was buried in the Cinq Rues cemetery near Hazebrouck. At home, his brothers and sister planted a sycamore tree outside her cottage. It stood there for almost a hundred years before it too died.

Jack Morris’ grave at Cinq Rues Cemetery
Jack’s memorial tree outside his sister’s cottage in 2013