Dr Ian Morrison, the 90-year-old nephew of a soldier who died in World War 1, has recently paid a poignant visit to Fort George to meet his Uncle’s military descendants after the remains of Lance Corporal John Morrison, 1st Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) were discovered at Cuinchy (near Arras), France.
LCpl Morrison was given a full ceremonial burial on 27 July in Arras, France, with The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland soldiers bearing the coffin, firing the salute and playing the pipes.
LCpl Morrison’s remains were discovered in 2014 together with a spoon engraved with his service number – 5181. This, and insignia found with the remains, led the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) to trace Dr Morrison and his cousin, Sheila Thomson (age 92), as LCpl Morrison’s nearest living relatives, their DNA having proved to be a positive match with the fallen infantryman.
Sheila Thomson currently resides in Forres, only two miles away from LCpl Morrison’s family home in Brodie, where he was born and brought up.
Dr Morrison who lives in Dingwall was invited to visit The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, to find out more information about his Uncle’s Army service.
Dr Morrison said: “My cousin and I have been immensely impressed and grateful for the investigative work carried out by the MOD's JCCC following the discovery of our uncle's remains and also for the reaction from the Black Watch in honouring one of their own with a full ceremonial burial.”
Major Martin Stanning, of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland said the regiment is immensely proud of its heritage. He added: “To be involved in the burial of LCpl Morrison is a huge honour. It was a pleasure for us to host Dr Morrison at Fort George and give him some background on the history of the Battalion.
“The golden thread that runs right through the Regiment, linking us inextricably with our forefathers, is core to our ethos. Activities like this strengthen the bond between past and present. The Scottish soldiers of today share the same fighting spirit and esprit de corps as that of our ancestors, hence we are honoured to assist the Morrison family in burying their Uncle, John Morrison.”
Beverley Simon, of MOD JCCC added: “It is extremely rare but immensely satisfying to be able to trace living relatives of one of the many fallen heroes of the Great War. This is particularly poignant in the case of LCpl Morrison as the living relatives are so closely connected.”
Image: Major Martin Stanning, Officer Commanding C Company, pictured with Dr Ian Morrison and family member Shiela Thomson, at Fort George. Photographer Mark Owens; Crown copyright.