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7443: John Morrison, Scots Guards

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posted on 2024-01-18, 10:42 authored by Lest We Forget Project Team

John Morrison was my grandfather. He was born on 24/04/1895. He served in the Scots Guards with service number 13178. In 1915 he went to France. He saw service at Duck's Bill and Ypres. He was injured on 16/17 June 1916.

I have a diary that he wrote about his experiences from the end of 1917 to April 1918. The following are brief points taken from the diary. He arrived at Southampton on Friday 28 December and embarked for France. Due to a problem with the boat they disembarked and were put in a camp. They sailed the next night and arrived at Le Havre on the morning of the 30th. They marched to a base camp at Harfleur. He noted the usual French hawkers along the way. They were issued with war necessities including a rifle and 120 rounds of ammunition. There was a scarcity of water and he says that one is almost forced to drink beer. They slept in tents but it was cold. On 3rd January they left Harfleur for Rein and camped. There was a stiff march to Le Havre station with a wait of some hours there for a train (cattle trucks or similar). It was a very long journey across much of Northern France. They left on the 17th or 18th for the 55th Coy R.E. stationed at Athies. It rained all day and the officer lost the way. They were housed in dugouts made on a railway embankment. They were German dugouts & fairly comfy. They worked on putting up wire entanglements - very heavy work. They had to carry large coils of barbed wire. They came under gas and shell fire but nobody was injured.

They had to relieve the front line on the Arras front; they were about 50yds from the Germans. There was a scare when a few hand grenades were dropped. On 5th February they were relieved and spent 2 days in caves. McDonald made some porridge; eating porridge is mentioned subsequently too. The caves were named after territories in India. On 8th there was a football match against the Coldstreams which they won 5-0. On 10th he was transferred to the R.F. On 13th a letter arrived from home. On 16th they rose early and made for the line. On 18th the artillery were active and the Germans shelled out light railway. On 22nd they were relieved by the Welsh Guards. They went by train to Arras - light railway 8-9 miles from line to Arras. On 24th warned to proceed to Duisans for gas course. The course started on the 25th and he says he looks as though it will be as monotonous as the last.

On 1st March it was very cold and turned to snow. On 2nd he left for Batt; raining something awful. He lost his greatcoat. On 5th there were a lot of rumours going round; the German push is expected to start on Sunday.

On 17th there is church parade and then nothing until the German push starts. They then have orders to move in fighting order. They arrive in reserve. The Welsh Grenadiers evacuate the front line leaving them holding the line against thousands of Germans. They were shelled heavily and lost almost 60 good boys. On Monday 1st April he finished three days in reserve and relieved the Irish Guards, He was in charge of the platoon but should have been sent back for a rest, he said. He says that almost two weeks in the trenches is about enough for any man. On the 4th the rain was terrible, but were relieved. He was sent with 15 more for a rest. He arrived on the 5th and had a good rest.

His medal card shows that he was awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1915 Star.

He served in the Home Guard in the Second World War.


Name of contributor(s)

Wynne Morrison

Subject of the story/individual the object(s) relate to

John Morrison. Corporal, Scots Guards.

Date(s) the event(s) in the story took place

1915 - 1919. 16/06/1916.

Location(s) where the event(s) in the story took place

France. Duck's Bill. Ypres. Arras.


1. Shrapnel from leg and leg bone. 2 images. 2. Whistle. 1 image. 3. Cover of Soldiers' Booklet. Demobilization and Civil Employment. 1 image. 4. German notes. 3 images. 5. Postcard format photographs: Restaurant und Gastwirtschaft Herm�lheim bei K�ln. 1 image. 6. Postcard La Grande Guerre 1914-17 - Offensive Franco-Anglaise dans la Somme Maisons bombard�es � Herbecourt. 1 image. 7. Printed photograph of Zeebr�gge from the air. 1 image. 8. Royal letter about a march through London. 1 image. 9. Royal letter about the service of John Morrison in the Home Guard in the Second world War. 1 image. 10. Out of Work Donation Policy for John Morrison. 2 images. 11. Soldiers' Small Book for John Morrison: Cover and heading page. 2 images. 12. Maps. 2 images. 13. Blank message form. 1 image. 14. Diary of John Morrison. 26 images.

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