Private Robert Morrow V.C.
The Newmills War Hero
Newspapers : From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 28th August 1915:
The Mid Ulster Mail published the details of Robert Morrow, and letters from Captain Hill and from Lieutenant Colonel D W Churcher.
Mid Ulster Mail dated 28th August 1915: Tyrone’s Dead Hero – Honoured by the Czar
Tyrone’s Dead Hero – Honoured by the Czar
The Emperor of Russia has conferred the Medal of St George, 3rd Class, on the late Private Robert Morrow, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Messines on 12th April, , in rescuing, on his own initiative, wounded soldiers while exposed to shell fire. The gallant young hero was killed thirteen days afterwards at St Julien, before he actually got the Victoria Cross, which has been sent to his widowed mother, who resides at Sessia, Newmills. Mrs Morrow’s husband died 21 years ago, leaving a family of five boys and six girls, the youngest being merely an infant (and two of whom since died). On her little farm, with the help given by the Presbyterian Orphanage Society, by hard work and good management she reared this large family, who were taught the first principal of citizenship, ‘Fear God and Honour the King’. In the day school, under the teachings of Mr Thomas H McAdoo of Gortnagush National School; in the Sunday school, under the superintendence of Mr Elliott, R.D.C., and in the church under pastorship of the Rev D T Macky, the character of the lad, who up to the present, has brought the greatest honour to County Tyrone in the war, was moulded.
In spite of the temptation to which too many struggling farmers and others succumb, to send their children out to earn a living before they are in their teens, young Morrow was kept at school until he was over 14 years of age, and the character he had then of a ‘quiet, determined boy, always ready to do a good turn,’ was what animated him to risk his life in rescuing comrades on the battlefield, for which the Czar has joined King George in conferring honours on him. At home he proved a loving son and an invaluable helper on the farm, his mother testifying that ‘he was awfully good to me always.’
Having a taste for soldiering, he enlisted in the Royal Irish Fusiliers when of age and in the army he kept the good opinion formed at school. Brought up a total abstainer, he never disgraced his uniform as some do, and he agreed with the opinion of General Gordon that there is nothing to prevent a young man living a sober and temperate life in the army more than elsewhere. The Faugh-a-Ballaghs, in which he enlisted, though a famous fighting regiment, never before earned the coveted V.C., and Captain Hill, in whose company young Morrow served, wrote to his mother from France as follows:-
Dear Mrs Morrow, I have been unable to write to you before this with regard to your son, for I have been too busy. As of course you now know, your son has been awarded the V.C., and how thoroughly he deserved it too! I have known your son well ever since he joined the regiment, as he has always been in my company, as he has been all the time during the war. It was during this time I have had the honour to command this company out here that the incident occurred over which he got his V.C. I am myself proud that I was present and able to put his name forward, for his is the first V.C. ever won by the 87th, and this fact will I hope give you some added consolation in your loss, I need hardly tell you that every officer and man of the regiment is proud of your son, and all mourn his loss with you and offer their deepest sympathies. It was during our attack on St Julien on April 25th that your son was wounded, but I do not think he suffered much, and I know that on the day he behaved with his usual gallantry.
Dear Madam, It is with the deepest sorrow that I hear your son, Private Morrow, has met a soldier's death while serving his King and country in France. No words of mine can, I fear, help you in your grief, but I should like you to know that the boy soldiered straight and served me well when I was commanding the regiment and I always had a soft place in my heart for him. In these days, when the Empire is grieving for its young manhood, it may be some consolation to you to feel that your son has fallen in gallant company while upholding the honour of old Ireland, and that his name will be inscribed for all time on the Empire's Roll of Honour. Life is very short for all of us, and no one can say when his turn will come; but if we are prepared, as I feel sure your son was, it will not be long before we all meet again in a happier world than this. I pray that time may soften your grief, and with all sympathy, remain, Yours very truly, D W Churcher, Lieutenant Colonel, late commanding 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers.
One of the young hero's brothers, Richard Morrow, resides at Moneymore, where he is married. He has answered his country's call and is serving in the 12th Inniskillings. A brother-in-law, William Leslie, of Moy Post Office, is also in the army. The youngest brother, who is rather delicate, is at home with his mother, and the rest of the family are in situations in Dublin and America. A portrait of Private Morrow V.C. is being included in a large commemorative painting which is being executed for the French Government by M Carrier-Belleuse.
Robert Morrow V.C. © 2015-20
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