Topic: Frank Gordon Morrow (1892-1969)
Frank Gordon Morrow joined the first NZEF and was shipped to Egypt for training, then Gallipoli where he was wounded.
|Father:||Edward Morrow (1850-1924)|
|Mother:||Alice Stubbing (1852-1934)|
|Religion:||Church of England|
|Born:||1892 (BDM) recorded as 1893 on Military record|
|Last residence:||49 Pleasant Street, Onehunga, Auckland|
|Cremated:||Purewa Cemetery Cremations (ashes scattered) . Registration number 16278|
Military History Sheet details
Auckland Infantry Battalion (AIB), 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). Frank had previously completed a year with the Victoria Rifles (Auckland) and was already with the 16th (Waikato) Regiment.
Military Number 12/776 (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: Farmer (Waopuna), though after the war he would work for the Auckland Gas Company.
Description: 5’9”, dark complexion, dark brown hair, brown eyes. He attests his DOB on enlistment as 13 Sep 1893 though Birth Deaths and Marriages has him as 1892.
Period of Service: 1 year 253 days (overseas 273 days)
Fields: Egypt and the Balkans (Gallipoli, Mudros etc)
Regiments or Corps: Auckland Infantry Battalion, 16th Regiment (Waikatos).
Summary of movements
- NZ from 13.8.14 to 15.10.14 (64 days)
- Foreign from 16.10.14 to 15.7.15 (273 days)
- Wounded at Gallipoli c. 30.4.15.
- Aboard Willochra arriving NZ 15.7.15
- NZ from 15.7.15 to 22.4.16 (282 days)
An estimate of Franks’s experiences
Sadly Franks 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 (16th Waikatos) at Gallipoli but his journey had started seven months earlier.
Frank, along with his brother Arthur Nelson Morrow (12/181) 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. Aboard were 61 Officers, 1400 men and 496 horses. On October 11 they steamed to Wellington and joined the NZ transports of the main body (a convoy) departing October 16 to Hobart, Albany, Colombo, the Suez Canal (Aden) 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 training was interupted when the troops trained up to Ismalia 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.
Boredom and repetition took its toll, resulting in a Good Friday riot while on leave in Cairo. This became known as the Battle of the Wazzir and involved up to 2500 Australian and New Zealanders. The troops reported price hikes, bad drinks and too much venereal disease as the source of their frustration. Order was restored with the aid of Mounted Police, Yeomanry and Lancashire territorials.
From Wikimedia Commons, damage resulting from the Battle of Wazzir
It is of course not possible to tell if Frank or his brother Arthur took part in this action but there is no record of V.D. on their Military Records and the Army made no attempt to hide such infections.
On April 12, Frank and brother Arthur were shipped (aboard the Lutzow) with the rest of the Auckland Infantry Battalion (AIB), from Egypt to the Greek Island of Lemnos. Here he fell ill with Influenza and spent 6 days on the Lemnos No 1 Australian Hospital, being released just two days before the invasion. In fact if it hadn’t been for poor weather postponing the invasion he may not have been sent at all.
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 (Franks’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.
They headed steeply uphill over Plugges Plateau with the 16th Waikatos in lead, experiencing many losses to shrapnel and rifle fire once cresting the hill and heading into Shrapnel Gully. Rough terrain, enemy fire and bombardment gradually fractured the Battalion into smaller ad hoc groups of men and it becomes less certain what Frank and Arthur’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).
It would be interesting to know whether they stuck together or ended up one at Pope’s Hill and the other at Quinn’s. We can get a closer sense of the day by reading an entry from fellow 3rd Company soldier, Pte Frank E. McKenzie. He 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).
Frank’s war was almost over though. His Military Record notes on April 30 that he had been shot in the left elbow.
It is most likely that this is the date he was first officially seen for the injury, possibly placing the injury at sometime between (or even during) the action on the front lines of Pope’s Hill or Quinn’s Post and a return via Monash and Shrapnell Gully to Plugge’s Post. There is another possibility however. Typed medical notes in New Zealand show that he was treated for it in the 15th General Hospital of Alexandria (Egypt) before being shippped back to New Zealand aboard Willochra arriving in New Zealand July 15, 1915. This record states the injury was received at Gaba Tepe, another name for the Anzac Cove location, on April 25. Either this is a genereic reference for the Gallipoli invasion, or indeed he was injured on the first day and first officially seen on April 30, perhaps back in Alexandia at the 15th General Hospital. If tht is the case he may have been shot anytime from before hitting teh beaches, through to an arrival at Pope’s Hill or Quinns’s Post.
Whatever the events of that week, the wound would have been very painful and resulted in Military Assessment that he had been 1/4th disabled as a result of the injury.
Frank was evacuated out to Egypt where he spend time at the 15th General Hospital in Alexandria. His wounds left him unfit for immediate war service and he was returned to New Zealand to rest, arriving on the Willochra, July 15, 1915. In September his arm was operated on to remove numerous bone fragments and recommendations made for further operations.
In April 2016 one year after the initial wound, he was discharged as unfit for war service.
He was a keen yachtsman and a member of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in Auckland and a loyal RSA member after the War. He was also a very good tennis player. At the age of 37 he married Mavyn Kathleen Kelly who he met through playing tennis. They had no children. He worked for the Auckland Gas Works for 40 years until he retired.
- 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 26, 2016, click here https://perma.cc/8D7L-FEBC. For an archived version of the original Tauranga Memories article, click here https://perma.cc/DWP2-TPB5.