Monday, 28 March 2016

A sapper’s death from fever: Sapper Bernard Morrish, 7 April 1916


Above: All Saint Church war memorial where the name of B. Marish appears

Bernard Morrish was one of five children born to Robert and Sarah Ann Morrish of Church House, East Budleigh. His father was a sexton at All Saints Church.

The 1911 census lists Bernard as a bricklayer, living with his parents. He joined the Army early in 1916 and at the time of his death was serving in the 4th Provisional Company of the Royal Engineers Depot Battalion located at Chatham. The Provisional Companies had apparently been formed as a result of the rapid expansion of the Army, and the surge in recruitment of formations of men involved in specialist areas such as tunnelling and gas warfare.

The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of Friday 14 April 1916 recorded Bernard’s death at Chatham from what was described as spotted fever, a type of tick-borne illness. ‘He was esteemed by all who knew him, as he was a singularly quiet, well-behaved young man, and of an obliging disposition,’ noted a report.    

Bernard was buried at Fort Pitt Military Cemetery in Chatham, pictured above, which contains a plot of 265 First World War graves. The newspaper noted that his father was not able to attend the funeral because of illness.

East Budleigh village war memorial lists Bernard Marish

There seems to have been confusion over the spelling of Bernard’s family name. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his father as W.R. Morris, while the East Budleigh memorials give the surname as Marish.

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum!  Reviews included: 'Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!!' 

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