Private Robert Edgar Morrow

 

 

Robert Edgar Morrow was born on 7 March 1895 at 1 Agincourt Street, Belfast, the tenth or eleventh of fourteen children of book-keeper (formerly tailor, later contractor's secretary) William Morrow and his wife Sophia (née Gardner). His father died when he was just eleven years old. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 2 Florida Street with his mother and six of his nine surviving siblings, and working as an apprentice clerk.

Morrow enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron between 20 and 23 November 1914 (No. UD/179). He trained at Enniskillen before embarking for France with his squadron on 6 October 1915.

The Northern Whig of 7 March 1916 reported that Morrow had been hospitalised in France, suffering from trench feet.

The 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron served as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division until June 1916, when it was brought together with B and C Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Most, including Morrow, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Morrow was issued regimental number 41130.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917, and perhaps also during the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918.

The 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion took part in the Advance to Victory offensive from late August to November 1918, advancing across the old Ypres battlefields and deep into occupied Belgium. On 4 September the battalion took part in an attack south of Wulverghem on the Ypres front. The battalion war diary for the day recorded the action as follows:

8 a.m. Battle. H.Q. was formed at T.10.d.05.80. and under an artillery barrage the battalion, in conjunction with other battalions on flanks, attacked. Good progress was made. 'D' Coy lost direction and got as far as Stinking Farm (U.7.a). Not being protected on flanks the enemy attempted to cut them off and the Coy had to retire. Our line was established from road (T.6.d.35.80) where touch was made with the 30th Div., along hedge running south through T.6.d.4.0 to river in T.12.b then along breastwork trench from T.12.c.50.35 – T.18.a.80.90, with the gap between 'B' and 'A' Coys. D Coy was put in support along road running south through T.6.c and T.12.a. The enemy were not very numerous but their m.g. fire was heavy. The shelling was fairly heavy but was confined to vicinity of St Quentin Cabaret. During the operation Battle H.Q. was moved to T.5.d.80.40. Six prisoners were made, four of whom were sent through 29th Div. on the right. Some of our men on the right were cut off and are thought to be made prisoners. The 29th Div. took Hill 63 but did not come up far enough to cover our right flank. During the day there was an amount of sniping and m.g. fire and the enemy shelled St Quentin Cabaret and T.12.a with 5.9. In the afternoon he attempted a counter-attack by coming up along railway between 'B' and 'A' Coy. but was driven back by m.g. and rifle fire. At dusk our patrols were pushed forward to get the line behind Bristol Castle but were unable to do so owing to m.g.

The 9th (NIH) Battalion's casualties for the day were four officers wounded, and 17 other ranks killed, 67 wounded and 11 missing. Private Morrow was one of those wounded, losing his right eye. He was evacuated to the UK where he was treated at a hospital near Manchester.

On 12 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

Morrow married Agnes McDowell Gilmore in the Cregagh Presbyterian Church, Belfast, on 7 May 1924. They lived at 32 Wandsworth Crescent, Robert working as a Customs Officer in the civil service. During World War 2 he served in the Home Guard. He died at his home on 8 April 1951 and was buried in the Dundonald Cemetery, Belfast.

 

Men of the Inniskilling Dragoons, perhaps at Enniskillen Castle in 1915. Morrow is believed to be 6th from the left, back row.

 

I am grateful to Dr Mike Morrow for making available these images of his Grandfather.