Private Robert Morrow V.C.
The Newmills War Hero
Private Robert Morrow in the Royal Irish Fusiliers
From the Royal Irish Fusiliers Bounty Book, which records the payments to, and misdemeanours of, the men of the Special Reserve Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers from 1900 until the summer of 1914, it can be seen that Robert Morrow joined the SR Battalion when he was 18, around 1909. Approximately two years later he transferred to the Regular 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers. After basic training Robert went with the Battalion to England.
Royal Irish Fusiliers
In 1872, some British regiments were brigaded in pairs and assigned training depots in their recruiting areas in a process that, in 1881, led to the creation of new two-battalion regiments.
The 'Faugh A Ballagh' became the 87th's motto and in turn became the motto of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers.
The 1st Battalion fought at Le Cateau, the Marne, the Somme, Arras, Cambrai and Ypres, losing 1,058 dead throughout the War.
Relatively little is known about Private Robert Morrow in those intervening years from 1906 leading up to the war.
A report in the local paper relates he was to the great degree he attached to his profession as a soldier and when last home on furlough before his death, he was so anxious to return to his duties that he could scarcely allow himself to remain at home with his widowed mother the full time allotted for his absence from the ranks.
Private Robert Morrow from Newmills Village
In August 1914, on the outbreak of war, the 1st Battalion was ordered to join the British Expeditionary Force and embark for France. The battalion arrived at Shorncliffe near Cheriton in Kent in August 1914. They were under the command of 10th Brigade in 4th Division. They moved to York and then on to Harrow on 18 August. On 23rd August 1914 they landed at Boulogne.
Private Robert Morrow, Service No 10531, acquitted himself with remarkable courage, and on being severely wounded in early December 1914, the captain commanding his company, Captain Yates, wrote to Mrs Morrow acquainting her of the affair stating that her son was "a man absolutely devoid of fear".
On recovering from his wounds he went once more on active service.
A quiet, disciplined, hard-working soldier and small in stature, he did not look like a hero, yet when his battalion was fighting, he knew no fear.
One account of Private Morrow's remarkable bravery was told by a comrade after his death:-
"Private Robert Morrow was an Irishman who literally did not know the meaning of fear. One day we badly wanted some water, and this was to be had only from a farm which was some distance away. To reach the farm it was necessary to leave the trenches, and cross open ground exposed to the German fire, which was very deadly because we were so near the enemy's trenches. These were only about 600 yards away, and not more than 300 yards from us were some snipers in a farm in front of the trenches.
Morrow volunteered to fetch water, and taking an empty two-gallon stone rum jar, he started on his perilous journey. As soon as he was seen after leaving the trench, the German's did their very best to 'pot' him, but they missed every time, and Morrow reached the farm, filled his jar, and began the trip back. And a hard business it was, for a jar like that will hold about fifty pounds weight of water. Then there is the jar, and the awkwardness of carrying it, when the carrier has to duck and dodge every yard of ground. But Morrow was a splendid hand at the game and he actually managed to reach the trench in safety, and was on the point of dropping into it with his precious water, and we were just about to give him a wild Irish cheer, but at this moment crash came a German bullet, and the rum jar was smashed to pieces, and the water rained on the ground and was lost.
But Morrow was the sort of chap who can't be beaten. Instantly he volunteered to go back to his farm with water bottles this time. This second time he reached the trench safely, and dropped into it bringing the water with him. He escaped every German bullet that was meant to kill him. He was a plucky lad and we were proud of him, and the Regiment will be proud of him for all time."
Robert Morrow V.C. © 2015-21
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