When it comes to curating exhibitions we traditionally try to take a step back. Curators aim to describe a setting, tell a story using interesting and enlightening objects and ultimately remain objective. This always fails, of course. In every word of every panel and label there is an opinion or emotion. We simply cannot tell a story without becoming attached to it in some way and this was certainly the case when my team and I decided to tell the story of Lance Corporal John Morrison.
Morrison’s was one of the first stories I heard after I took the role of curator at The Black Watch Castle and Museum. I was still learning the history of the Regiment and was already overwhelmed by the stories of bravery, victory and loss when suddenly here was a man who had been discovered 100 years after being listed as missing.
Curating this exhibition was a wonderful experience. Not only did the museum team get involved; so did our volunteers, the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) and the family of Lance Corporal Morrison himself. So many people helped by sharing their stories, photographs and knowledge to create an exhibition that celebrates this soldier’s life and rediscovery. I was thrilled to be able to speak to and eventually meet so many members of the Morrison family and cannot thank them enough for sharing their experiences and an all-important object, a spoon, with us.
Lance Corporal Morrison of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Highlanders, The Black Watch died in Cuinchy, France on 25th January 1915. He had enlisted in Perth a mere four months earlier. In 2014 a farmer came across his remains whilst working his field and so began an investigation. With the help of a spoon, a DNA sample and records from our archives, the MODs JCCC were able to confirm the identity of these remains: Lance Corporal John Morrison.
Morrison was reburied in Woburn Abbey, Cuinchy, France in 2016 and many of the items recovered during the excavation were donated by his family to The Black Watch Castle and Museum. I wholeheartedly invite you to explore more of his story, engage with the objects and archives and celebrate Lance Corporal Morrison at The Black Watch Castle and Museum.
Hope Busak | Curator at The Black Watch Castle and Museum