Private John May Morrison


John May Morrison was born on 22 February 1895 at Greencastle, Belfast, the third of five children of carpenter John Morrison and his wife Alice Knox Morrison (nee Forbes). He grew up with his family at Seaview Terrace, Greencastle, and by 1911 was working as a clerk.

Morrison enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 25 November 1915 (No.1972). In 1916 or early 1917 he embarked for France, where he was posted to the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment.

In September 1917 the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment was dismounted and most of its men, as well as some from the 1st Regiment, were absorbed into the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – which was re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. Morrison, like most of the men, was transferred on 20 September. He was issued a new regimental number (41327) and posted to C Company.

At night on 3/4 November C Company engaged in a successful raid on the German lines near Havrincourt. Morrison was awarded a Military Medal for the part he played in the raid. The battalion war diary reads:

[3 November] At 4.30 p.m. "C" Coy left Ruyaulcourt and marched up to the line to carry out a raid. The enemy's front line was successfully penetrated, from the Canal (K.26.d.05.95.) to about 150x [yards] E of it. The fighting was very severe as the enemy refused to surrender. Our men stayed in the enemy trenches for twenty min. and bayonetted and shot at least forty Germans. We suffered some casualties, mostly from bombs:- 1 officer severely wounded; 1 officer slightly wounded; 1 N.C.O. killed; 3 O.R. missing, believed killed; 13 O.R. wounded 1 R.E. (N.C.O.) severely wounded.

[19 November] The following "immediate awards" have been notified by Bde as result of our Havrincourt raid on 3rd inst. Military Medal. 18869 Corpl Mackinson, Henry, 41327 Pte Morrison, John, 41256 Pte Chambers, Thomas, 41534 Pte Averell, Robert, 23438 Corpl Craig, George.

Morrison probably saw action with the 9th Battalion during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Following the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German Spring Offensive, Morrison was one of the many of the 9th Battalion listed as missing. He had been captured near the villages of Erches on 27 March. He spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner of war. A report from May 1918 has him a Giessen prisoner of war camp in Germany.

Morrison returned home at the beginning of January 1919.