Topic: Arthur Nelson Morrow (1888-1945)
Arthur, known as Uncle Nelson by his family, served two tours during the First World War and within New Zealand during the Second World War. Family lore has it that he returned from the war a bit strange and wasn't often spoken of. It is likely he suffered from some form of Post Traumatic Stress.
Arthur Nelson Morrow (1888-1945)
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|Father:||Edward Morrow (1850-1924)|
|Mother:||Alice Stubbing (1852-1934)|
|Religion:||Church of England|
|Died:||May 6 1945|
|Place of death:||Hamilton, New Zealand|
|Cause of death:||Coronary Thrombosis - 2 weeks. Essential Hypertension (Military Record ).|
|Buried:||Hamilton East Cemetery, Area Soldier 1, Row A, Plot 52|
(Auckland Weekly News, 11 Nov 1915)
Military History Sheet details
Auckland Infantry Battalion (AIB), 3rd Company, which was made up of four regiments. Other than the 3rd Auckland Company, there was also 6th Company (Hauraki), 15th Company (North Auckland) and 16th Company (Waikato). 3rd Company soldiers wore a patch made of three vertical stripes of red, black, red (in contrast to 1st Company whose colours went black, red black).
Military Number 12/181 (early in the war the bar, initially differentiating the regiment the soldier came from (12 for AIB), was dropped. To possess one was to be marked as an old soldier).
Occupation: Surveyor’s Chainman (in Auckland)
Description: Variously as 5’5” and 5’6” tall, dark complexion, black hair, brown eyes. He attests his DOB on enlistment as 14 Nov 1887 (and will change that to 1889 for WWII).
Period of Service: 3 years 84 days (overseas 1 year 216 days)
Fields: Egypt and the Balkans (Gallipoli)
Regiments or Corps: Auckland Infantry Battalion, Ordinance, A Company 37 and 38, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.
First period: Aug 10 1914 - Nov 4 1915
Wounded at Gallipoli on June 10 1915 and later medically discharge as a result of illness contracted on active service (Myalgia).
Injuries: “Weakness of right arm following shrapnel wound. Also pain and stiffness in back since falling into a trench in Egypt” (Military Record page 5)
Summary of movements
- NZ from 7.9.14 to 15.10.14 (39 days)
- Foreign from 16.10.14 to 16.9.15 (335 days) and wounded at Gallipoli 10.6.15.
- Aboard SS Apirama arriving NZ 16.9.15
- NZ from 17.9.15 to 4.11.15 (50 days)
An estimate of Arthur’s experiences
Sadly Arthur’s diaries were thrown out by his nieces who didn’t believe other generations would be interested in them. We can estimate his experiences however, by following the events of his particular company and regiments as closely as possible, with an eye to his Military Record.
At the time of his injury he was with the 3rd Auckland Infantry Brigade at Gallipoli but his journey had started seven months earlier.
Arthur had signed up a couple of weeks after his younger brother. They both had left New Zealand on the SS Waimana on September 23, enduring an extra fortnight on-board in the Waitemata Harbour after it had immediately returned with concerns about the German Pacific Fleet. On October 11 they steamed to Wellington and joined the convoy departing October 16 to Hobart, Albany, Colombo, the Suez Canal and finally berthing in Alexandria Egypt on December 3. From there they trained for Cairo, getting off in Zeitoun to establish a training camp.
On January 30 the troops trained up to Ismalia where they were to support the 51st Sikhs in protecting the Suez Canal. Turkish activity was rare and ineffectual however and on February 26 they returned to Zeitoun.
On April 12, Arthur was shipped (aboard the Lutzow) with the rest of the Auckland Infantry Battalion (AIB), from Egypt to the Greek Island of Lemnos. On April 25 from 8:00 am onward, AIB were landing at Gallipoli alongside the Canterbury battalion well after the initial pre-dawn attack by the Australians.
‘Landing boats carrying New Zealand infantry’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/landing-boats-carrying-new-zealand-infantry, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-Jul-2014
The Aucklanders landed under rifle fire but were according to Burton’s 1922 The Auckland Regiment, “without excitement…everyone was cool and quiet, but terribly determined to do his best”(p. 26). The 3rd Company (Arthur’s) under Major Dawson crossed Mule Gully toward the left in order to support the Australians but were halted by unassailable cliff faces at Walker’s Ridge. At Midday new orders were given to support the centre (high above and behind them at their right). The initial Ottoman 27th Infantry Regiment had been joined by a unit of Mustafa Kemal’s 57th Infantry Regiment who had been training in the region at the time of the initial invasion.
He headed steeply uphill over Plugges Plateau with the 16th Waikatos (most likely including brother Frank of the 16ths). Once cresting the hill and heading into Shrapnel Gully, rifle fire, shrapnel, and rough terrain, gradually reduced and fractured the battalion into smaller ad hoc groups of men and it becomes less certain what Arthur’s or Frank’s movements would have been from this point.
“Generally speaking, the 6th were on the left, towards Walker’s, the 16th round Pope’s, the 3rd were fighting near Quinn’s, and the 15th about Courtenay’s and even further to the right. Men of the different companies were, however, scattered everywhere. The advance had reached its furthest limit” (Burton, p 28).
The webside Hard Jacka and Googlemaps locate these settings within this aerial view (top centre).
Fellow 3rd Company soldier, Pte Frank E. McKenzie later describes these events in his diary.
“Disembarkation commenced a little before daylight — the first two boatloads of Australians were sunk by shells, but the rest pulled in and raced the bluff about 400 feet high. They charged it like heroes, and though with heavy loss from machine guns drove the enemy from the first hill, then the advance proceeded
with little loss.
We landed at 8am and after a little delay got right into it. The first Thirds got separated from the rest and we advanced through shrapnel fire over the first range of hills and up a long ravine [later called Shrapnel Valley and Monash Gully] to make good a position partly taken by the Australians. Up this ravine we hurried for about a mile, passing dozens of fellows wounded, but still able to get back with assistance… We hurried up an almost perpendicular hill to strengthen the Australians on the left centre. It was the most advanced position in the line and owing to the disposition of the hill was a weak position to hold. Raced into the firing line on the crest. Our fellows had no trench, just an old and shallow watercourse and we were outnumbered by five to one. It was death to put your head up to fire. Machine guns and trenches about 200 yards in front. Poor old Roy Lambert tried but was killed instantly — hit in three places. I had just been joking, saying he would go into a charge as if he was scoring a try. Lt
Richardson was mortally wounded on my right hand, and little O’Meara of our section was shot in the knee on my left. I had just looked at him, and he gave his catchy little smile and a sly wink and then a cry. The word came that we were enfiladed (taking fire side-on from the end of the column) from the left. I have never felt so utterly helpless and hopeless, and wished they would give us a bayonet charge and finish it. Almost every other man was hit. Then occurred one of those lucky accidents which saved the position and
prevented the whole lot being driven back into the sea. All the officers in our part had been laid out and there was no one to command. Someone bolted and yelled “Retire!” We obeyed and ran. As the line got up there was a hail of bullets. The Australians fell in dozens. In my cramped position my leg had gone completely to sleep and I made a bound and fell over like a turkey with its head off. However the leap had taken me over the crest and into comparative safety. About 15 yards from the crest we dug in like mad with our little entrenching tools… The Turks did not follow up immediately and this saved us. Dawson took charge from now on and held on like a hero. Godley specially recommended for his splendid stand, and we think he ought to get a DS0. The Turks dug in about 10 yards the other side of the crest, some were only about 20 yards apart. This retreat was the accident that saved us. The Turks did not know how few we
were and they would not come over the crest onto our bayonets.”
From such accounts we can see that the fighting was atrocious and the thinning frontline barely holding. They looked at any moment about to succumb to attrition, when the Queen Lizzie, (HMS Queen Elizabeth (1913)) shelled the Ottoman positions with 15 inch shells, providing the AIB with some relief.
On the second day, fresh Battalions of Australians, Canterbury (2nd half), Wellington and Otago were arriving and the AIB were placed in reserve “and ordered to concentrate on Plugge’s Plateau” (Burton 1922 p. 32).
In response to the order, men commenced to arrive from midday Monday, and kept dribbling in for the next two or three days. It was a rather joyful reunion. Certainly, many fine men had gone under, and many more were on the hospital boats; yet it was a surprise to find so great a number left. The Plateau was a very important tactical feature which the Aucklanders were to fortify. For the next four days they were busily employed digging and carrying. Here on Plugge’s Plateau the Battalion learned that the difference between “fighting” and “resting” meant that in the latter case there was more work to be done. “Resting” meant hard toil with the pick and shovel, varied by carrying loads of bully-beef, biscuits and ammunition long distances over steep tracks. (Burton 1922 p. 32).
Arthur’s brother Frank was shot in the elbow according to his Military Record on April 30 but without diaries it is not possible to know whether Arthur knew of this.
On May 1st the AIB climbed Walker’s Ridge, preparing for an attack the following day, but a change in orders saw the battalion split, with half moving to Pope’s Hill under Colonel Plugge. This half may have been placed in support of the 4th Australian Brigade, Canterbury and Otago Infantry in thier costly and final attempt on a hill north of their position designated Baby 700. The following day the New Zealanders were relieved, withdrawing to Anzac Cove for naval transport 20km south to Cape Helle. It is becomes more likely that this is the occasion Arthur learns of his brother’s injuties.
Map showing Cape Helles, Krithia and Achi Baba
Map from Wikimedia Commons of the landing of the British 29th Division at Cape Helles (south of the ANZAC landings) on April 25. The front line established by the night of April 26 is shown by the red dash-dot line. The front line reached by the night of April 27 is shown by the red dotted line. This became the “jumping off” line for the First Battle of Krithia.
Unlike the Anzac landing locations, the south was open rolling country. The British 29th Division had landed at Y beach unopposed but neither advanced or dug themselves in, choosing instead to wait for the others to catch up. The “others” were their countrymen who were landing at the southern tip of the peninsular admids ferocious bombardment and machine gun fire in a geography perfectly designed to be defended.
The objective had been to control the higher locations at Achi Baba and on the way there, Krithia, but by early May they now faced an entrenched enemy on higher ground. On May 6 while the New Zealand Infantry landed at V beach, the British 29th and French 1st Brigade attacked Krithia with heavy loss of life. The following day they tried again with an identical plan and identical results. Overnight Arthur with the AIB and the Wellingtons had marched to within 800m of the frontline, Canterbury and Otago to their rear owing to the confusing nature of the night march. They were ordered to attack Krithia in a broad daylight attack across open land. AIB were to take the centre assault crossing an area of land known as ‘Daisy Patch’. In three waves they made only 300 yards, losing almost all their officers and leaving the field behind them strewn with the dead and dying.
Despite protests, at 5:30 p.m. they were ordered to continue their advance which they attempted at enormous human cost and to no avail. By nightfall of May 8 the AIB had lost over 400 men and even allowing for reinforcemens were less than half their original strength. At daybreak the remainder were taken off the line and placed in reserve.
On May 20 they returned north to Anzac Cove under urgency and in response to mass Turkish attacks. The line had held at significant cost to the Ottoman forces and the Aucklanders arrived in time to provide a detail for burial of Ottoman and Allied dead during a brief armistice on May 24. It is unknown whether Arthur was part of the burial detachment.
On June 2 AIB 3rd Company were back at Quinn’s Post, the place they had secured and held on the night of April 25. The Turkish trenches were just 15 metres from Quinn’s post.
On June 5 and 6, and again on the 7th and 8th, attempts were made to take the Ottoman tranches with small groups of volunteers from the AIB 3rd and Canterbury Companies digging beneath the Ottoman trenches and mining them with synchronised raids over the top. Temporary advances were not able to be held.
The AIB’s were relieved by the Wellington Infantry Battalion. Arthur’s Military Record shows he received around this time a shrapnel injury, wounding his right arm. The injury is recorded on his record as June 10 though it is unclear whether this is the day he first sustained it or received attention for it. Whatever the case, after a few weeks of recovery he believed himself to be returning to the firing line and cabled his mother to that effect.
From NZ Herald July 27 in 1915
However later he would be returned to New Zealand via Aparama arriving September 9 1915 having been discharged as medically unfit owing to “myalgia” contracted during active service.
Second period: May 16 1917 - 13 May 1919
Medical discharge from illness contracted on active service.
- Embarked “Maunganui“ (Wellington) 9.5.18
- Admitted ship hospital for Myalgia 16.5.18, discharged following day
- Disembarked (Liverpool) 24.6.18
- Marched in and posted to Brocton (in Cannock Chase) 24.6.18
- Admitted hospital Cannock Chase (Myalgia) 10.8.18
- Discharged hospital placed on duty in Brocton 20.8.18
- Embarked “Maunganui” (Liverpool) for NZ 2.12.18
Returned to NZ 1919 aboard “Maunganui”
At enlistment reports DOB as 1889, making him 51 rather than 52.
Described as 5 foot 4 3/4 tall.
Served in the Home Defence Forces from 4.9.1939 to 2.6.1942 then placed on indefinite leave without pay till his death (Military Record page 36).
Served mostly Papakura (Camp duties, temporary employment section).
- New Zealand Mounted Rifles website click here.
- Burton, O.E. (Auckland, 1922) “The Auckland Regiment” in “New Zealand in the First World War 1914-1918“ (Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, Auckland). Online here.
- Cooke, Peter D. F., Stead, K and Gray, J.H. (2010) Auckland infantry : the story of the Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly’s Own) and North Auckland regiments and of the citizen soldiers who served New Zealand.
- New Zealand Archives website Archway(click here)
- National Library of New Zealand’s website Papers Pastclick here
- The Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph website (click here)
For an archived and responsive version of this article as at June 28, 2016, click here https://perma.cc/Q2AL-56LK
For the original Tauranga Memories article archived at Perma CC , see it here https://perma.cc/P9ZY-AKAJ.