Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Lansdowne Morrison

Biography of Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Lansdowne Morrison

Fred Morrison was very much a Glasgow man. Born in the city in 1863, he grew up in the west end. The family home was at Ashcraig, Great Western Road, and his father James was a well-known auctioneer and Justice of the Peace. Aged 16, Fred went up to the University of Glasgow in 1879 to study for an Arts degree.

His education over the next four years must have given him a very good grounding not only in the Humanities, which he took to senior level, but also Mathematics, Moral Philosophy and Natural Philosophy. He graduated MA in 1883 and immediately enrolled for a Law degree. He was a good student and gained a place in the prize-lists for Scots Law, Conveyancing and Public Law before graduating LLB on 29th April 1887.

When the Great War began, Fred was over 50, and married to Helen Ada, but he was one of the first to go, mobilised with the 5th Highland Light Infantry (HLI) on the 4th August 1914, with whom he served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine. He rose to the rank of Brevet-Colonel and was much decorated. Mentioned in Despatches (MID), he was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and made a Companion of the Order of Bath (CB), the fourth most senior award in the Honours system.

When Professor Dudley Julius Medley wrote to him to express the congratulations of the Military Committee of the University of Glasgow on this last honour, Fred replied on the 22nd June 1916;

"I have been rather overwhelmed at the honour which has been conferred on me, for I am only too conscious that ' beyond having the good fortune to 'stick it out' - I personally have done nothing to merit it. This being so, it can only have been given to me in recognition of the good work which my Battalion has put in, and, regarding it in this light, I can be and am honestly proud of it - and very grateful to the officers and men - the dead as well as the living - to whose splendid services I am indebted for my CB."

Colonel Morrison's battalion had suffered very heavy losses in Gallipoli and he also wrote of these to Medley. Of the 29 officers who had landed on the Peninsula on 2nd July 1915, only 5 re-embarked when Cape Hellas was evacuated six months later. Of 'other ranks' they brought back only 321 out of 1033. By February 1916, Morrison was in Egypt, and reading about the home front in the newspapers.

He expressed his pleasure in seeing how well his alma mater was responding to the war, but expressed contempt for some of the munitions workers who exploited the war to strike for reasons which in his opinion were flimsy. The men serving at the Front for a shilling a day, and who would be shot for going on strike, would have something to say about that when they got back home, he concluded.

Brevet-Colonel Fred Morrison would not, however, be among those who returned. He died on the 22nd of December 1917 at Alexandria, aged 54, and is buried at Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery.

Summary

Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Lansdowne Morrison
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Regiment: 5th Highland Light Infantry
Degree: MA LLB
Awards: CBE, Distinguished Service Order, Companion of the Order of the Bath, Mentioned in Despatches
Comments: Died at Alexandria 22 December 1917
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/802
Photo ID: Ch 4/4/2/2/195

Sources

University of Glasgow Registry, Faculty and General Council Records

University of Glasgow OTC Records (GUAS Ref: DC 99/3)

Burial Place: Commonwealth War Graves Commission ' Debt of Honour Register

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