We have recently acquired the framed medals and Memorial Plaque to this casualty of the First World War.
Alfred Ashurst Morris
1st Grenadier Guards
Killed in Action 27th September 1918.
Alfred Ashurst Morris was born 13th September 1895 in Stanstead, Essex, registered at Bishop Stortford. Son of Captain Alfred Morris, late 20th Hussars, and Kathleen Mary Eleanor Herbert. The couple can be referenced in Burke’s Peerage.
The 1901 Census has them living in Stanhope Place, London, with a total of 9 servants.
His application for entry into the Royal Military Academy shows that he was educated at Radley College and came through the Radley Officer Training Corps. His home address is given as Langton, Blandford, Dorset.
We have a copy of Form MT360 which is a Declaration signed by him confirming his fitness to serve.
His Medal Index Card shows him serving as a Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers then the Grenadier Guards. His Mother residing c/o W H Adams Esquire, 17th Throgmorton Avenue, London EC2. This document confirms that the 1914 / 15 Star is named to him in the Royal Fusiliers and the British War Medal and Victory Medal in the Guards . These 2 medals just state, as normal, his Rank and Name.
He entered France 12h March 1915.
He was wounded whilst in the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. There are 3 pages of extracts from the War Diary detailing the action at Hooge. Description of the fighting tells us of the action and the leadership of Captain de la Perelle and Major Hely-Hutchison who was later badly wounded.
An extract gives a flavour of the diary – “….casualties were appalling. The Adjutant Captain G Thomas-O’Donel was killed with his orderlies and operators by a high explosive shell. The heavy shelling that the germans were subjected to had a most demoralising effect on them. Our men acted splendidly, ther eagerness cost them a number of casualties – L/Cpl Fitter’s M (achine) G(un) stuck to his gun all through the day though wounded. The MG Sgt Jones also did a job throughout the day till sent to the dressing station later to have his wounds dressed, he was wounded early in the day, we lost fifiteen officers…..”. It is worth noting that Adjutant Captain George Thomas-O’Donel was twice M I D and was awarded the Military Cross.
Alfred was wounded at Hooge on the 16th June. Shrapnel hit him in 3 places – 1) His left Cheek 2) Through left knee and 3) Just below left hip.. He left France on the H S St David at Boulogne on the 18th June 1915 (Form AG4a). He later wrote a letter in July 1915 asking for compensation. He was granted one month’s sick leave. His address is given as Langton, Blandford, Dorset.
There is a summary document (Army Form A45a) from the RAMC confirming his wounds. His incapacity is expected to be 2 months.
By 13th January 1917 he was serving in 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards. He returned home on leave. He had been in bed since 20th January with a severe attack of jaundice. We also have a copy of a letter sent by him, from 61 Eaton Square, to the Secretary, War Office. This letter details his jaundice illness.
Later on, there is a copy of the telegram to Morris at 43 Grosvenor Street, London informing the family of his being killed in action “The Army Council express sympathy”.
There is a copy of the Field Service Report on the Death of an Officer. This, obviously, confirms the death of Lieut A. A. Morris, 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards. We also have an Extract from Probate of Will. This is dated 11th February 1919. The value his estate as £809.00 and states that the Medals be sent to his mother.
There is also a letter to Captain A Morris of 43 Grosvenor Street, W1, London. This confirms that Lieutenant A A Morris is buried at Sanders Keep Military Cemetery, Graincourt-les-Havrincourt, south west of Cambrai.
Victoria Cross to the 1st Grenadier Guards.
On the day that Alfred was killed a Victoria Cross was won by John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker, 1st Grenadier Guards.
A VC won on that day 27th September 1918 was awarded on 27 November 1918 to a man who became Field Marshal John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort. Gort was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, for his actions on 27 September 1918 at the Battle of the Canal du Nord, near Flesquieres, France.
Victoria Cross citation
Captain (Brevet Major, Acting Lieutenant-Colonel), 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards
Citation: For most conspicuous bravery, skilful leading and devotion to duty during the attack of the Guards Division on 27th September 1918, across the Canal du Nord, near Flesquieres, when in command of the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, the leading battalion of the 3rd Guards Brigade. Under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire he led his battalion with great skill and determination to the “forming-up” ground, where very severe fire from artillery and machine guns was again encountered. Although wounded, he quickly grasped the situation, directed a platoon to proceed down a sunken road to make a flanking attack, and, under terrific fire, went across open ground to obtain the assistance of a Tank, which he personally led and directed to the best possible advantage. While thus fearlessly exposing himself, he was again severely wounded by a shell. Notwithstanding considerable loss of blood, after lying on a stretcher for awhile, he insisted on getting up and personally directing the further attack. By his magnificent example of devotion to duty and utter disregard of personal safety all ranks were inspired to exert themselves to the utmost, and the attack resulted in the capture of over 200 prisoners, two batteries of field guns and numerous machine guns. Lt.-Col. Viscount Gort then proceeded to organise the defence of the captured position until he collapsed; even then he refused to leave the field until he had seen the “success signal” go up on the final objective. The successful advance of the battalion was mainly due to the valour, devotion and leadership of this very gallant officer.
Subsequent to this he became known as “Tiger” Gort. He won a second bar to his DSO in January 1919. He was also mentioned in despatches eight times during the War.
Sanders Keep Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
Extract from the superb Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
Sanders Keep” was a German fortification 2 kilometres South-West of the village, between the Hermies and Havrincourt roads. It was stormed by the Scots Guards on the 27th September 1918, and after the fight the British and German dead were buried on the battlefield by the Guards Division Burial Officer.
Graincourt-les-Havrincourt is a village 10 kilometres south west of Cambrai.
The Cemetery is signposted at the intersection of the main road from Bapaume to Cambrai (N30) and the Marquion Havrincourt road (D15). 2 kilometres south of the N30 on the D15 towards Havrincourt the Cemetery is signposted to the left where it can be found at the end of a single track leading towards Graincourt.
There are now nearly 150, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, a small number are unidentified. The cemetery covers an area of 755 square metres and is enclosed by a stone rubble wall.
Casualty records show the following statistics.
Total Casualties – 135
Date of death 27th September 1918 – 128
Grenadiers died on this day – 31 comprising 1 Captain, 1 x Lt (Alfred Ashurst Morris), 1 x 2nd Lt, 2 x Lance Sjts, 2 x Lance Corporals, 24 x Privates. Of these there were 24 from the 1st Battalion and 7 from the 2nd Battalion.
Lieutenant Morris’ address is given as Cadogan Square, London.
Also died on this day and is buried here in this Cemetery is Thomas Norman Jackson VC (11 February 1897 – 27 September 1918). He was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Born 11 February 1897 to Thomas Edwin and Emma Jackson, of Swinton, Rotherham.
He was 21 years old, and a lance-corporal in the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, British Army during the First World War when he performed an act of bravery at the battle of the Canal du Nord for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. 20810 Lance Corporal Thomas Norman JACKSON, 1st Bn Coldstream Guards
For most conspicuous bravery and self sacrifice in the attack across the Canal du Nord, near Graincourt.
On the morning of 27 September 1918, Lance-Corporal Jackson was the first to volunteer to follow Captain C.H. Frisby across the Canal du Nord in his rush against an enemy machine-gun post. With two comrades he followed his officer across the canal, rushed the post, capturing two machine-guns, and so enabled the companies to advance. Later in the morning, Lance Corporal Jackson was the first to jump into a German trench which his platoon had to clear, and after doing further excellent work was unfortunately killed.
Throughout the day this NCO showed the greatest valour and devotion to duty, and set an inspiring example to all.
—London Gazette, 27 November 1918
His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Coldstream Guards Regimental Headquarters, Wellington Barracks, London.
Captain Cyril Hubert Frisby VC, Coldstream Guards, as mentioned above, also won his VC on this day, with Lance-Corporal Jackson.
On this day, 27th September 1918 at this battle the following Victoria Crosses were also won.
Graham Thomson Lyall VC 102nd (North British Columbia) Battalion . C E F
Samuel Lewis Honey, VC DCM MM 78th (Winnipeg) Battalion, C E F.
George Fraser Kerr VC, MC & Bar, MM 3rd (Toronto) Battalion, C E F
Thomas Patrick Neely VC MM The King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster)
In total there were 7 VCs awarded at the Battle of Canal du Nord on this day 27th September 1918.
We also have another Gallantry Group to the Grenadier Guards.
Lt Col Hugh Bertram Godfrey Morgan MC
2nd Batt Grenadier Guards
MC engraved St. Leger – August 27th 1918, Lieut H.B.G. Morgan. On both BWM & VM. 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal & War Medal.
Born 15th October 1881.
Entered France August 1917
Lt Col Hugh Bertram, Godfrey Morgan MC was a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WW2
19th September 1940 war sub. Lt (temp Capt) HBG Morgan
(99152), from RE (Transportation), to be War Sub s LT (temp Capt)18th Sept 1940
29th December 1944 London Gazzett War sub Maj H.B.G. Morgan M.C.(99152) is granted the Hon rank of Lt Col, 26th Dec. 1044 on ceasing of employment.
MC awarded for action at St Leger on 8th –11th September 1917.
Listed supplement to London Gazette 11th January 1919
For conspicuous gallantry in an attack.
He led his right support company with great dash, reached a forward point and maintained touch throughout with the right division. During this advance which was much hampered by intense machine-gun fire from their left rear, his company captured about 180 of the enemy, including a battalion commander. After reaching this point some 2000 yards in advance of the rest of the battalion he consolidated his position and that night took up a line covering the right flank of the battalion. He showed fine courage and leadership.
Entry in Grenadier Guards 1914-18
On September 8th the Battalion took over the front trenches immediately to the left of the Staden Railway, where the line was held by a series of posts running across the Broembeek. This was a very unpleasant line to occupy, as it was wet and marshy, and the enemy was able practically to overlook the trenches. Captain Walker MC commanded the Battalion, while Major Rasch temporally took command of the Brigade. During the three days in the line 6 men were killed and 32 wounded. Second Lieutenant H.B.G. Morgan and three other ranks were slightly wounded but remained on duty.
L.G entry Supplement 11th January 1919
HS Records of Special Operations Executive – HS 9/1060/06 Hugh Bertram Godfrey Morgan.
L.G. entry Supplement 19th September 1940
Both these groups are for sale and can be found at medals4heroes.com
Or, please do not hesitate to contact us here.