Serjeant 356 Herbert Morris

Morris Herbert 96 376x600  Morris Herbert 96 434x600

Killed in Action on Saturday, 1st June 1918, age 32.
Buried in Grave I. D. 1. at Franvillers Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.

28th Bn., Australian Infantry A.I.F.

Husband of Rose A. Morris, of "Lyndhurst," 62, Park Lane, East Tipton, England.
Born: Headington, Oxon, Enlisted: Mornington Mills, Australia, Resident: Mornington Mills, Australia.

First landed France & Flanders, 11th August 1916.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on Commonwealth War Graves site.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/176996/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Herbert Richard Morris registered March quarter 1887 in Headington, Oxford.

1891 Census
Rookery Road, Headington, Oxfordshire.
Susan Morris (36, Married, born London), and her 4 children: Florence (11, Scholar, born Headington), Herbert (4, Scholar, born Headington), Ethel (3, born Headington), and Beatrice (6 months, born Headington).

1901 Census
No trace found, possibly with the Royal Navy.

1911 Census
HMS Revenge, No. 3 Buoy, Portsmouth Harbour.
Herbert Morris (25, Married, Able Seaman, born Headington, Oxfordshire). << Note, the census says married.

Marriage of Herbert Morris and Rose A. Warren registered September quarter 1917 in Dudley.
Birth of Betty A. Morris registered September quarter 1918 in Dudley, sadly after the death of her father Herbert.

Personal Data

The only connection of Herbert Morris to Tipton is that in 1917 he married Rose Warren, and the Commonwealth War Graves web site shows Rose A. Morris living in Park Lane East, Tipton. She was born in Dudley, but in 1911 was second house-maid to Rev Wilson de Vine, vicar of St. Martin's Church, whose son Hatton was killed at Vermelles in 1916 whilst serving as a Chaplain.

From Australian Archives.
Herbert Morris was born in Headington, Oxfordshire in 1886. He had served for 10 years with the Royal Navy, and subsequently emigrated to Australia. He was living at Mornington Mills, Western Australia (100 miles south of Perth)and working as a brick-layer when he enlisted in the Australian Army on 2nd March 1915. Herbert was 29 years and 3 months old, 5 feet 6 inches tall with a 36-inch chest, weighed 160 pounds, had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and fair hair. He had a butterfly tattoo on both shoulders, presumably from his time in the Navy, and was Church of England.

Herbert embarked from Freemantle, Australia on HMS 'Invernia' on 4th September 1915 en-route for Gallipoli. His first hospital stay began in October 1915 at Anzac, his journey to the UK was broken by a spell in the General Hospital in Gibraltar, the journey continued on 29th December 1915, and he was admitted to 3rd London General Hospital (wandsworth) on 3rd January 1916. He finally arrived at the 28th Divisional Depot at Abbey Wood on 11th April 1916. He was in hospital again from 2nd to 28th July 1916, before arriving at Etaples on 11th August 1916 on his way to his unit on 26th August 1916. Herbert was promoted to Sergeant on 26th December 1916.

His health misfortunes continued, he spent some time in the Anzac Scabies Hospital in February 1917 with eczema, and had caught dysentery by 22nd February 1917. The bout of dysentery caused Herbert to be transferred to England where he was sent to the 1st Southern General Hospital, Edgbaston. This may have been where he met Rose Warren as they married in September quarter 1917, the marriage being registered in Dudley.

After signals training in England, he eventually re-joined his unit on 6th May 1918, after over 12 months in England. Herbert was killed less than 4 weeks after this arrival.

Action resulting in his death

The 28th Battalion Australian Imperial Forces (28/AIF), spent the winter of 1918 in Belgium, but early in 1918 transferred to the Somme in response to the German Spring Offensive. In late March and into April, they defended the line around Villers-Bretonneux as the Allies fought to defend the vital railhead of Amiens, before providing support to an attack on Ville-sur-Ancre in mid-May.

The 28/AIF had been in the front-line trenches, and then from 26th to 31st May, were in Divisional Reserve near Mericourt. Despite some working parties, and mention of much aerial activity, they had an enjoyable period in Reserve, particularly enjoying swimming in the river.

At midnight on 31st May, the 28/AIF were being relieved and began their march away from their Reserve position and further away from the front line. However, despite being 5 miles from the front-line, danger was always present. The War Diary for the 1st June records:
“On arrival at LAHOUSSOYE Switch Trench, an enemy plane appeared overhead. Apparently, the Company was observed by the pilot, who in quick succession dropped 2 bombs, which unfortunately fell on “B” Company, killing 26 Other Ranks, and wounding 1 officer and 39 Other Ranks, also 3 horses killed.
At the time of the accident, the men were in excellent spirits, after their term of duty in the trenches and Brigade Reserve. The affair cast a gloom over the whole of the Battalion. The bodies were buried in Franvillers Cemetery.
Apart from this painful affair, the day passed off very quietly.”

Sergeant Horace Morris was one of the 26 Other Ranks of “B” Company killed by the 2 bombs. All 26 men are buried in Row “D” of Franvillers Communal Cemetery Extension.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 13 July 1918
The circumstances of the death of Sergeant Herbert Morris (who married last year Miss Rose Warren; of Park Lane East, Tipton), are particularly sad. He was in Australia when the war broke out, and immediately answered the call of the Motherland. He was drafted to Egypt in 1915, and from there he went to Gallipoli, where he had dysentery and was in hospital for several weeks. On recovery he went to France, and did his share of fighting on the Somme and at Ypres. He was wounded in the latter engagement, and came to hospital in England. He returned to France in April last (1918), and on the 1st June was 5 miles behind the fighting line, he was killed by an aeroplane bomb.
A letter from the officer commanding to the Rev. Wilson de Vine (Vicar of Tipton), states "Dear Sir, I regret to have to tell you that Sergeant Morris was killed on June 1st, and wish you to convey to his widow the sympathy of the officers, NCOs and men of his company. I have only just taken over 'B' company, so I do not know Sgt Morris excepting by sight. Sergeant Morris was killed along with some more men of the company at 1.45am on the morning of June 1st. The company had just returned from the line and were moving into the reserve position some five miles back, when a Hun plane dropped bombs. One of three dropped right on his platoon, practically wiping it out. It was a bad affair as in ordinary circumstances, men that far back are what we call safe. Sergeant Morris is buried in the military burial ground at Franvillers, just off the Albert-Amiens road. A cross has been erected marking the spot."
A comrade of the late Sergeant Morris writes to the letter's wife:- "Dear Madam, No doubt you will be much surprised on the receipt of this letter from a stranger, but I must write to you to express my deepest sympathy with you in your recent loss. May I say that I knew your husband, Sergeant Morris, long before the need came for us to don khaki, and since then we have continued our acquantance.as comrades in this battalion. I and my friends, who were your late husband's friends, realise what a blow this has been to you, but we all sincerely trust that we will derive benefit and solace from the proud knowledge that he died as he lived, a soldier and a man. We all knew him to be a good fellow, staunch and reliable, as his advanced position proves. Therefore we realise that we have lost a good solid comrade, and you will miss a good husband. Sergeant Morris was very popular with the men in his platoon; also with other fellows of the battalion who knew him, and we all desire to express our deep sympathy with you in this time of trial, and trust you will not take your loss too much to heart, as we feel sure that our late comrade would wish you to retain a brave heart, even in such circumstances. May the proud memory of your late husband, Sergeant Morris, a soldier and a man, help you to carry on, as he himself would wish, and as is the sincere hope of all his fellow soldiers."