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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Remembering Driver Thomas Richard "Tommy" Morris—DOW October 16, 1916

Thomas Richard “Tommy” Morris was born at Nerissa, Guysborough County on February 4, 1890. Tommy’s father, Richard S. Morris, passed away sometime after 1901 and his mother, Sarah Ann (Ross), left with several young children to support, married James Patrick Hanlon of Canso, another local widower, in 1906.

On August 2, 1915, Tommy enlisted for service with the 40th Battalion (Halifax Rifles) at Halifax, NS. The 40th departed from Quebec aboard SS Saxonia on October 18 and landed in England ten days later. Before year’s end, the battalion was reduced to the status of a “reserve unit” and its personnel dispersed to other units.

Driver Thomas Richard "Tommy" Morris.

Tommy was transferred to the Canadian Army Service Corps (CASC) on February 14, 1916. Two months later, he crossed the English Channel to France and was assigned to the Base Horse Transport Depot at Le Havre. No doubt familiar with horses from his early years in Guysborough, Tommy was assigned to No. 1 Canadian Veterinary Hospital, Le Havre in late May 1916. He worked at the facility for almost three months, before returning to CASC Base.

On September 4, 1916, Tommy was transferred to No. 4 Entrenching Battalion, which was in the process of organizing at Le Havre for service at the front. Having worked with horses in his previous assignments, Tommy was assigned to the unit’s horse transport detail as a driver. No. 4 Entrenching departed for the forward area on October 1 and arrived at Brickfield Camp, near Albert, the following day.

The unit’s personnel commenced daily work party assignments in the forward area on October 4. German artillery regularly shelled the area around their camp, as well as their work locations. Meanwhile, the unit’s soldiers worked at a tramway dump along the Bruay road and completed repairs to the Ovilliers—Courcelette road.

On October 16, 1916, the regular work party at the Bruay road tramway dump came under direct artillery fire. Tommy’s “circumstances of casualty” form described the ensuing events:

“Whilst [Tommy] and several of his comrades were standing together watching the shells fell [sic], a shell exploded amongst them and he was wounded in the right leg by shrapnel. He was given immediate attention and taken to No. 4 Casualty Clearing Station, where he died the same day.”

Driver Tommy Morris was laid to rest in Varennes British Cemetery, six miles northwest of Albert, France.A detailed summary of Tommy's family background and military service is published in "First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917," available at .

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