University of Oxford
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Adventures of Signaller Morris H.S.

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:17 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My father, Sydney Morris, originally signed up with the RAF (aged sixteen) in 1941 to leave his home, as his mother had passed away two years earlier. His two older sisters were not great cooks and he figured that being in the Armed Forces had to be a better option than doing the books in my grandfather's tailoring shop and caring for a younger brother.

So he joined up with a much older member from the community (Nat was 28) and went up to RAF Dishforth for basic training. Somehow he was made a Corporal during the following year (still in Yorkshire) and by then he had just managed to grow a pencil moustache to make himself look much older.

He and Nat were trained as Signallers but were told that there were "too many Signallers" and that they had to "re-apply." Nat advised that they should be "Radar Operators", as it was "a cushy job." They were then informed that "it was also oversubscribed and they would have to re-apply." They then filled in a form for "Bomb Aimers" and the same thing happened. Then "Wireless Operators"... same again. "Navigators"... same again and "Flight Engineers"... ditto.

Finally, Nat ran out of options and they went to the C.O. to explain the situation and ask "What did they actually want?" The C.O. told them "Rear Gunners!" and Nat said to him "We're NOT doing it!" Rear Gunners had a life expectancy of three days.

The C.O. then took both their papers, rubber-stamped a big red "L.O.M.F." (Lack of Moral Fibre) against them, and they were officially sacked from the RAF. "Back on Civvy Street," announced Nat, but as they walked from the gates, their discharge papers were snatched from their hands and immediately replaced with their call-up papers to the British Army.

Nat is front row bottom right with the pipe and everybody called him "Pops." They ended up with the Signal Corps in Italy at Monte Cassino where they were bombed by the Americans and he met Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan in a hospital ward.

Some time in the future they both ended up in North Africa, where my father made the mistake of his war by answering the query, "Can any man here sew?" He thought that he was going to be making officers' uniforms back at HQ, but instead, he ended up on a battlefield sewing corpses into shrouds. He NEVER volunteered for anything again.

That's probably the best story about my late father during the war that I know, so I hope it's one that can be used, as it is filled with bathos, as I learnt at school from the plays of Sean O'Casey, the great Irish dramatist.


Item list and details

1. Army Paybook for H.S. Morris. 2. Medals awarded to H.S. Morris.

Person the story/items relate to

Harold Sydney Morris #14670766

Person who shared the story/items

Martin D. Morris

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my father, known to everybody as Uncle Syd.

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID