May 1916

In May we remember ….

Morse, Ernest George, Sergeant (3783), DCM

3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards

Died 11 May 1916, age 36

Sergeant Morse was born in Fairford, and was the son of Charles and Mary Morse of Little Faringdon Crossing, Lechlade, and the husband of Edith Ellen Morse (nee Cox) of 1 Melville Terrace, West Street, Farnham, Surrey whom he married in April 1911. His father Charles was a plate layer for the Great Western Railway for many years. Ernest joined the Coldstream Guards and is listed at the Guards’ Depot at Chelsea Barracks in the 1901 Census. By the 1911 Census Ernest he was recorded as a Sergeant in the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, living with his parents and siblings at 26 Mount Pleasant in Fairford. However, he was living in Farnham when he re-enlisted in Cirencester to join his old regiment. The 3rd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards formed part of the 1st Guards Brigade in the Ypres Salient from 17 March to 20 May 1916 and during that time sustained very light casualties with just 15 men killed. As Sergeant Morse is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery on the French coast near Le Touquet, he was probably wounded and evacuated to one of the large British military hospitals where he then died. Sergeant Morse was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in January 1916 for his service with the Coldstream Guards the citation of which reads “For consistent good work with the battalion transport throughout the campaign, bringing it up to most dangerous places, sometimes night after night. He is untiring in his energy and care of his horses“.

and…Ernest Morse memorial card (2)

Groves, Philip, Private (PO/17844)

HMS Queen Mary, Royal Marine Light Infantry

Died 31 May 1916, age 18

Private Groves was the fifth son of John E A and Ann M Groves of “The Cotswold Arms”, High Street, Burford, a native of Farhill, Fairford although born at Maugersbury, Stow-on-the-Wold.

His father was a shepherd who moved from farm to farm throughout Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. His mother Annie was recorded as living in Mount Pleasant, Fairford at the time of Philip’s death. Philip’s three First World War war medals were recently offered for sale on the internet.

He was killed as a direct result of enemy action at the Battle of Jutland, one of the most important sea battles in British naval history and a battle in which both sides claimed victory, although the German Grand Fleet rarely ventured out in force after this great battle.

HMS Queen Mary was a 27,000-ton battle cruiser that had previously taken part in actions at Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank. During the Battle of Jutland the Queen Mary was hit by shells from the German warships Seydlitz and Derrflinger and blew up with the loss of all but 9 of her 1,275 crewmen. The catastrophic explosions that destroyed the battle cruisers Queen Mary and Indefatigable caused Admiral Beatty to utter his famous remark: “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!” Each of the larger Royal Navy ships carried a complement of Royal Marines who enforced discipline on board ship and could also be used for shore raiding parties. Like all his shipmates, Private Groves has no known grave but is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.