|Medals to the C&T Corps.
|HONOURARY MAJOR GEORGE CHARLES
The Man, his Medals and a Mystery
There are a number of problems with this group and some collectors would, no doubt, turn up their
collective noses at it but it holds a certain appeal to me and will always remain a favourite. The recipient
has long disappeared from human sight but something of his character survives in the face that peeks out
from an old group photograph in the Army Service Corps Journal of October 1913. It shows a typical
military face, complete with Army-issue mustache, and is half smiling from under a jauntily-cocked hat. Of
course I have no way of knowing what George Morris was like but a few clues to his personality can,
perhaps, be gleaned from his medal group. But first, here’s an outline of his Army career.
George Charles Morris was born on 8 March 1866
and enlisted as a Boy in the Commissariat & Transport
Corps at the age of 14. He was given the number
3916 while his brother, Samuel, who must have joined
at the same time, was awarded the number 3925,
a mere 9 digits apart.
Both boys served together in No. 2 Company
during the 1882 Egypt campaign and duly received
the Egypt Medal without clasp.
Brother Samuel participated in the Nile Expedition as a Private in No. 9 Company, adding a clasp to his
medal, but must have found the military life lacking and took his discharge in 1886, giving his address as “
The Cottage, behind 7 Albion Place, The Crescent, Salford, Manchester. “ George, however, continued to
soldier on, serving as a Private in No. 3 Company at Suakin in 1885 and adding a clasp to his Egypt Medal.
Rising gradually through the ranks he was a Staff Sergeant Major, ASC, when he enmbarked for South
Africa in 1899, participating in the relief of Ladysmith, operations at Tugela Heights and in Cape Colony.
Apparently he returned to the UK in time to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.
Following receipt of his “ rooty gong, “ he was commissioned as an Honourary Lieutenant &
Quartermaster on 24 November 1909.
The outbreak of the First World War found him based in Aldershot and, no doubt, his advancing years and
valuable experience kept him at Home throughout the conflict. He was promoted Honourary Captain on 1
July 1917 and granted the higher rate of pay for his rank but failed to garner any medals for wartime
service. He retired the following year.
It is only the survival of George Morris’ medals that have kept his memory alive and they are, in
themselves, a bit of a poser. To begin with, the Egypt Medal with his group is the one actually awarded to
his brother, Samuel and it is his number, 3925, that remains on the medal. At some point the first initial
has been professionally re-engraved as a G. but perhaps the re-engraving of the number posed too many
challenges to the jeweller? Neither brother was entitled to the clasp TEL-EL-KEBIR but one has found its
way onto the medal, as has a tailor’s copy of a TOFREK clasp. One can speculate that a sloppy clerk
overlooked entitlement to one clasp but probably not two clasps. The middle clasp, SUAKIN 1885 is
genuine but is straddled by spurious additions.
The Queen’s South Africa Medal has some problems as well, with a number of unofficial rivets and a copy
clasp for LAING’S NEK. The latter referred to as a replacement in the dealer’s catalogue (!)
The 1902 Coronation is a bit of a mystery as well. The Army Service Corps consisted of 264 Officers and
5,067 Other Ranks at the time, of whom 233 Officers and 4,672 Other Ranks were dispatched to South
Africa. Many of these men would still have been on “ The Dark Continent “ at the time of the Coronation
and there is no record of Sergeant Major Morris assisting in the celebrations. Not proof, certainly, but still
cause for speculation, if not concern.
On the positive side, the Khedive’s Star has been beautifully engraved Bugler G.C. Morris CTC. Just to add
further appeal, and mystery, years before I purchased this group I acquired a lone Khedive’s Star
privately named in the same style to, you guessed it, Bugler S. Morris CTC, George’s brother Samuel,
privately engraved in exactly the same beautiful script. When the group was sold by Wallis and Wallis in
1976 it included a Great War pair to A/Cpl. L.F. Morris, ASC but, sadly, these have become detached from
what is surely a family group of medals.
So now I have George’s medal group, with Samuel’s Egypt Medal, as well as Samuel’s Khedive’s Star. I’m
also left with several questions; Why is Samuel’s medal with George’s medals, why are there so many
questionable clasps and was George really entitled to the 1902 Coronation? Maybe that’s why George has
that faint Mona Lisa smile in the photograph … we’ll never know but it is fun to speculate.
G. C. Morris 1913