A remarkable story of a lost First World War soldier is told in the new exhibition Morrison: The Man, The Search, The Discovery at The Black Watch Castle and Museum.
In 2014 the body of an unknown British soldier was discovered in a farmer’s field at Cuinchy near Arras in France. Found alongside the remains were a variety of personal effects. This included a spoon with the number 5181 stamped on it, an item which proved vital in unravelling the identity of the man.
What followed was a two year investigation, led by The Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), to uncover the identity of this soldier. Using the number detailed on the spoon The Black Watch Museum archive was able to determine that a Black Watch soldier with the army number 5181 had died in Cuinchy at the same time as the personal effects suggested. The JCCC located the nephew of this soldier who provided a DNA sample. This confirmed that the remains belonged to Lance Corporal John Morrison, 1st Battalion, The Black Watch.
Hope Busak, Curator at The Black Watch Castle and Museum explains, “Lance Corporal Morrison is the most recent Black Watch soldier from the First World War to have been identified. We, at The Black Watch Castle and Museum, are honoured to have been part of the process which led to this discovery and the sharing of his story and courage in battle.
Hope continues, “We know from records that Morrison, only promoted to Lance Corporal days before his death, fell wounded in the leg but managed to crawl to an injured officer and assist him. It was during this act of bravery that he was shot dead.
Having proven Morrison’s identity, his name was removed from the missing and on 27th July 2016 he was given a military funeral led by Reverend Stewart Mackay, chaplain to The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland. His coffin was laid to rest at Woburn Abbey cemetery, Cuinchy, near the battlefield where he bravely fell 102 years ago.
Major (Retd) Proctor, Secretary, The Black Watch Association tells us, “It was an honour for four standard bearers of The Black Watch Association to take part on the reinternment of Lance Corporal Morrison and to meet his relatives.”
This exhibition explores the incredible story of Lance Corporal Morrison; tracing his courage and sacrifice, exploring the tale of his discovery on the battlefield and the moving military funeral which laid him to rest over 100 years later”.
Morrison: The Man, The Search, The Discovery is on display at The Black Watch Castle and Museum from 15th February until 6th June. Ticket price is included in Museum admission.