Allan Duncan Morris was born in Chester, Cheshire on 29th November 1895, and the eldest of four brothers to parents Marion Morris [née Lowe] and Allan Tom Morris, a Colliery & Brick Agent.

After completing his education at Wellington1 in 1911 nothing is publicly known of Allan’s life until the 8th February 1915 when he joined the Inns of Court OTC as Private 2892 Allan Morris. In May he submitted his papers for an appointment to a temporary commission for the duration of hostilities within the army; his preferred choice being The South Wales Borderers.

On 21st June 1915 Allan was commissioned as a temporary Second-Lieutenant in 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The South Wales Borderers who were based at Kimmel Park in Rhyl where he remained for twelve months. Whilst there the possibility existed that he crossed paths with two other OW’s who spent some time in Rhyl: Frank Lloyd and Rodric Williams.

Allan was subsequently posted to one of the ‘Pals’ battalions; 13th (Service) Battalion (2nd Rhondda), The Welsh Regiment, a unit within 114th Brigade in 38th (Welsh) Division, where he joined them at BERNEUIL, some 20 miles east of Abbeville in France on 26th June 1916.

A few days later on 10th July 1916 he was involved in his first offensive action when his was one of the battalions used in the clearance of Mametz Wood2. During the advance into the wood the Battalion War Diary3 recorded;

…the men formed into small parties, and proceeded to clear the wood advancing rapidly until the barrage was reached when we suffered many casualties from our own shell fire. When it was realised that it was our own barrage we were in and not that of the Hun, the order to withdraw was given and the Battalion withdrew for a time.

At 4.30am on 11th July 1916 the Battalion was relieved in the line and withdrew to MINDEN POST where the roll was taken and in addition to the known dead and wounded a further 12 officers and 250 other ranks were unaccounted for.

Allan received his promotion to First-Lieutenant on 21st March 1917 and the following month was involved in the raid on an objective known colloquially as VON KLUCK’S COTTAGES, the objective for which was to kill or capture Germans, obtain their ID and to destroy or capture any enemy Machine Gun’s in the vicinity. Sappers from the Royal Engineers working alongside the infantry were tasked with blowing up any concrete or other re-enforced structures. The raid over the night of 30th April/1st May resulted in the death of between 30/40 of the enemy, the capture of 11 PoW’s and 1 granatenwerfer4. All enemy dug-outs and gun emplacements, bar one, were destroyed. There were no fatalities on the British side but 19 other ranks received slight wounds.

War notwithstanding, time was found on 23rd May 1917 to stage the Welsh Divisional Rugby Competition final near the front line and the Battalion beat the Royal Army Medical Corps [RAMC] 3:0 which was a source of pride to the men from the Rhonda.

Two days later the mood changed when the men of Battalion were advised of the following:-

A few days later on 29th May Allan led a patrol out into No Man’s Land but was forced to return due to heavy shelling on the part of the British! The next twelve months were much the same with life being spent either in the trenches, or further back as Divisional Reserve, interspersed with continual training.

At the end of April 1918 Allan was notified of the premature death of his father on 23rd of the month. By 7th May 1918 the Battalion was at HEDAUVILLE where they hosted a party of 2 officers and 4 NCO’s from the United States Army who had arrived for three days instruction and training. By the end of the month over one million US troops had arrived in France.

On 24th August 1918 the Battalion fought their way across the Ancre river capturing many Germans along the way and it took until 8.30pm on the 26th August before they were reassembled as a single formation having been strung out during the advance.

At 4.30am on 27th August they had assembled for an attack on HIGH WOOD having originally been designated as the support battalion. Once the orders were changed, Allan, who by now was acting OC of ‘D’ Company, and his Battalion found itself in the forefront. Enemy casualties were heavy and again several POW’s were taken. For the next 48 hours they paused in the line before FLEURS and DELVILLE WOOD. Here they re-organised themselves after the previous days fight, and then withdrew. As the attack progressed, the Battalion were involved in a mopping up operation before they settled down for the night in DELVILLE WOOD.

On Friday 30th August 1918 First-Lieutenant Allan Duncan Morris, ‘D’ Company, 13th (Service) Battalion (2nd Rhondda), The Welsh Regiment, was killed in action during his Battalions advance on MORVAL. They had been subjected to a heavy enfilade of Machine Gun fire and were forced to remain in the trenches before their objective was reached. The exact circumstances of Allan’s death are not known but it is believed that his body was buried locally immediately after death, but then ‘lost’ in subsequent fighting; a fate that befell many thousands of his fellow men. At the time of his death Allan was 22 years of age and engaged to be married. His actions that day were later recognised with a Mention in Despatches.

Lieutenant Allan Morris is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial in France, which lists the names of 9,847 Allied officers and men killed during the “Advance to Victory” during the period from 8th August 1918 to 11th November 1918 and who have no known grave.

On 4th September 1918 his widowed mother, all of whose sons were in the army, received the sad news at her home in Chester and on 14th September wrote to the War Office to ensure that, when finally her late son’s effects were returned to her, that the Gillette silver safety razor he had been given for his 21st birthday was amongst them.

Clearly for Marion Morris dealing with the War Office would have proved difficult; she was now a widow and a woman’s place in society is not as it is today; the military bureaucracy could prove at times to be insurmountable and it required determination and perseverance to succeed.

By 4th October 1918 some of her late son’s possessions had been returned but she wrote to the War Office once again advising that some items were missing. The broken watch that had been returned was not the one given to him by his fiancée, none of Allan’s clothes, his identity disc and a war savings book were also missing. Also missing were any trousers, breeches etc. Enquiries were subsequently made of the Battalion out in France but the adjutant replied that after an extensive search no further items belonging to Allan could be located.

Further exchanges of correspondence occurred before Marion Morris engaged the family solicitor to take up her cause in January 1919. He submitted a complete list of the ‘missing’ items to the War Office together with their value, totalling £15 17s 0d and a claim for compensation. They were further advised that following enquiries made by the firm of the shipping company, Messrs Cox & Co, they themselves sought to blame the railway company. It appeared that one of the sealed boxes bringing Allan’s possessions back to London was broken open en route and three packages from within were either lost or stolen.

It was four months before the War Office replied when they advised that compensation for loss of kit is ‘solely to enable an officer to re-equip himself for further military service and is not extended to representatives of a deceased officer.’ The records do not reveal whether the family pursued this matter further or indeed if any of the ‘missing’ items were ever recovered.

Captain Harry Denton Morris [OW], Corps of Royal Engineers, husband of Audrey Morris, of Wellington, Shropshire was Allan’s youngest brother. He had served in both World Wars and been awarded the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society's Silver Medal and the Certificate of the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust. He died in Belgium on 9th September 1945 and was buried in Brussels Town Cemetery.

The Regiment is perpetuated today in 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Regiment.

1. Contemporaries from his time at Wellington at the time of the 1911 census and who died in the War can be found in Appendix 1.
2. Major Frank Lloyd, another OW, also took part in this assault.
3. Battalion War Diary: WO 95/2559/2 [1915 Dec. - 1919 May].
4. A Granatenwerfer or Grenade Thrower was designed to give troops in the trench an ability to lob grenades into enemy positions up to a distance of 325 yards.

See also the Imperial War Museum permanent digital memorial to the ‘Lives of the First World War’ for AD Morris.