Private Robert Morrow V.C.
The Newmills War Hero
After Private Robert Morrow V.C.'s Death
Private Robert Morrow is commemorated in White House Cemetery, St. Jean-Les-Ypres. His grave reference is Plot IV, grave A-44. The cemetery is located north-east of Ieper and south-west of St Julien, where he was injured. He was only man from the Dungannon district to be buried in this cemetery.
Private Robert Morrow V.C's grave
From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website: White House Cemetery was begun in March 1915 and used until April 1918 by units holding this part of the line. It then comprised most of the present Plots I and II; but after the Armistice these Plots were completed, and III and IV added, when graves were brought in from the battlefields around Ypres (now Ieper) and from a number of small burial grounds, including the following:-
There are now 1,163 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery.
It is thought that because Private Morrow was buried in plot 4 of White House Cemetery, his remains were brought in from one of the smaller cemeteries after the Armistice.
In a sermon on Sunday 16th May 1915 (Figure 7.01), the local rector, Rev. Gordon Scott, referred in moving terms to the deceased hero's valour and read to the congregation the references made by his Captain Hill in a letter to his mother previously acquainting her of a previous affair, stating that her son was "a man absolutely devoid of fear".
One of the young hero's brothers, Richard Morrow, was married and living in Moneymore. He has answered his country's call on hearing of his brother's death and served in the 12th Inniskillings. A brother-in-law, William Leslie, of Moy Post Office, was also in the army (Figure 7.01).
The youngest brother, Thomas, who was described as being 'rather delicate' (Figure 5), was living at home in Sessia with his mother. The rest of the family were living in Dublin and America.
The Official statement as published in the London Gazette of 22nd May 1915 was as follows:
London Gazette of 22nd May 1915
His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to the under mentioned for conspicuous acts of bravery and devotion to duty while serving with the Expeditionary Force:-
'For most conspicuous bravery near Messines on 12th April, 1915, when he rescued and carried successively to places of comparative safety, several men who had been buried in the debris of trenches wrecked by shell fire. Private Morrow carried out this gallant work on his own initiative and under very heavy fire from the enemy.'
The Tyrone Courier and Dungannon News dated Thursday 27th May 1915 carried the news of Private Morrow's Victoria Cross with the Headline : VC for Newmills Soldier – Second Northern VC - Hero killed in action. (Figure 7.01)
Later, on the 10th June 1915, a letter was published in the Tyrone Courier and Dungannon News from Captain G.V. W. Hill, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, to Mrs Morrow, Sessia, Newmills with reference to the death of her son, Private Robert Morrow V.C. (Figure 7.02)
On the 23rd June a letter (Figure 7.03) was published from an anonymous acquaintance of Robert, 'One too old for the front'.
On 24th June 1915, the Tyrone Courier reported (Figure 7.04) that the Victoria Cross won by Private Robert Morrow, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, had been sent by the War Office to the young man's mother at Sessia, Newmills. Also, a report in the Belfast Newsletter (Figure 9.09) indicates that his mother received the V.C. from the War Office on 22nd July 1915, in contradiction to later reports that his mother received his Victoria Cross from the King in London in late 1916.
Also in the report (Figure 7.04), it was revealed that the French government had decided by to have his portrait included in a large commemorative painting which is being executed for them by M Carrier-Belleuse. More details of this can be found in Chapter 9, Section 7.
In August, Tsar Nicholas of Russia awarded Private Robert Morrow V.C. the Medal of St George.
On the 2nd September 1915 the Tyrone Courier published a report headlined with 'Honoured by the Czar: Russian Medal for Newmills V.C. Hero'. In the report (Figure 7.05), it stated that the Tsar of Russia had conferred a list of awards for gallantry and distinguished service in the field upon a number of British officers, non-commissioned officers and men. The report also stated that the most interesting award, so far as the North of Ireland was concerned, was that given to Private Robert Morrow V.C., First Battalion (Princess Victoria's) Royal Irish Fusiliers, upon whom the Medal of St George, 3rd Class had been conferred.
In October 1915, Mrs Morrow received the following personal letter from His Majesty the King relative to her son, Private Robert Morrow. According to a report in the Courier ((Figure 7.06), it stated:
"Buckingham Palace, 15 October 1915. It is a matter of great regret to me that the death of Private Robert Morrow deprived me of the pride of personally conferring upon him the Victoria Cross, the greatest of all our distinctions". GEORGE R.I. Mrs M J Morrow, Sessia, Newmills, Dungannon, County Tyrone."
A year later, on Wednesday 29th November 1916, Robert Morrow's Victoria Cross was awarded to his mother, Mrs Margaret Jane Morrow, by King George V in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London. A report in the Tyrone Courier dated 11 January 1917 (Figure 7.07) recounts the event with the headline: "All The Way From Ireland – Mrs Morrow's Visit to the King". A report in the Belfast Newsletter compliments this.
The Royal Irish Fusiliers awarded Mrs Morrow one hundred pounds.
Mrs Morrow
This is believed to be a photo of Mrs Morrow..
MMrs Morrow at Buckingham Palace
Mrs Morrow at Buckingham Palace.
Mrs Morrow with Victoria Cross
Mrs Morrow with Victoria Cross..
Private Morrow V.C. appeared in a large commemoration painting by Monsieur Cairier-Belleuse, commissioned by the French Government. The painting was to become known as the Panthéon de la Guerre.
Knowing the high esteem in which her son had been held, Mrs Morrow decided to present the Victoria Cross to the Regiment in his memory. In August 1919, a ceremonial parade was held at the Royal Irish Fusiliers' Depot in Armagh, at which, Mrs Morrow formally donated the Victoria Cross to the Regiment. In exchange, she was presented with the title deeds to a piece of land she wished to add to her farm in Sessia.
Private Robert Morrow V.C.'s medals
All five of Private Robert Morrow V.C.'s medals, including his Victoria Cross, now reside in the Regimental Museum of the Royal Irish Fusiliers in Armagh, Northern Ireland.
The medal on the left is Robert Morrow's Victoria Cross.
The second medal is the 1914 Star. The Star was awarded to those of the British and Indian Expeditionary Forces who served in France or Belgium between 5 August and midnight of 22–23 November 1914.
The clasp shown on the 1914 Star was awarded to those who had served under fire or who had operated within range of enemy mobile artillery in France or Belgium during the period between 5 August and 22 November 1914. Approximately 145,000 clasps were issued, although the exact number is unknown since the clasp had to be claimed personally by the recipients, of whom a large number had either died before 1919 or neglected to apply. Many thanks to Mick Brand and Guy Aston of the Victoria Cross Trust for this information.
Private Robert Morrow V.C.'s medal card
The medal in the middle of the group is the British War Medal. The British War Medal was instituted on 26 July 1919 for award to those who had rendered service between 5th August 1914 and the armistice of 11 November 1918.
The medal second from the right is Victory Medal. To qualify for the Victory Medal one had to be mobilised in any service and have entered a theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918.
The medal on the right, The Medal of St George, 3rd Class, was awarded to Private Robert Morrow V.C. in August 1915 by Tsar Nicholas of Russia.
Robert Morrow V.C. © 2015-21
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