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Stewart Morley was born at 44 Elliott Street in Preston and baptised in the church of St. Thomas on the 16th October 1898 the son of a biscuit maker, George Hadfield and Ellen Morley (nee Fielding). George Hadfield Morley was born in Carlisle and Ellen Fielding was from Preston, the couple married in St. Mark`s Church in Preston on the 23rd November 1892 and went on to have ten children altogether; John Fielding (1893), George (1894), Mary Alice (1896), Stewart (1898)*, Elsie (1900), Annie (1902-1904), Margaret (1905), Richard Edward (1910), Harold (1913), James (1915).

Not long after Stewart was born his parents moved to 30 Egbert Street in Preston where his father was working as a coal carter. By the time of the 1911 Census Stewart and his family had moved house again, this time to 48 Sussex Street. Stewart`s father was employed by Preston Corporation as a carter, his eldest brother John was a bread baker, brother George and sister Mary Alice both worked in a cotton mill and 13 year old Stewart was a `half-timer`, attending school for half a day and then going to work as a biscuit maker.

On the 19th July 1915 aged just 16 years and 10 months old Stewart managed to enlist into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, signing his agreement to serve abroad on the same day. His papers record his given age as being 19 years and 10 months which of course made him three years old than he actually was. The Medical Officer recorded that Stewart was 5`3” tall and had a chest measurement of 35 inches. Prior to his enlistment he had been employed as a butcher working for Mr. R. Smith on Lovat Road in Preston. His home address was confirmed as 134 Barlow Street and his next of kin named as his parents of the same address. Stewart was allocated the service number 4237 and posted to the 3/4th (Reserve) Battalion LNL.

Stewart remained with the 3/4th Reserve Battalion until the 31st August 1915 when he was transferred over to the 42nd Provisional Battalion. Then on the 6th November 1915 he was transferred back once more to the 3/4th Battalion. Approximately four months later on the 17th March 1916 he was on his way to France with a batch of reinforcements landing at Rouen the following day. After spending just over two weeks at the Base Depot he was posted to the 1/4th Battalion, joining them in the field on the 4th May 1916. The 1/4th Battalion were part of the 164th Brigade in the 55th (West Lancashire) Division and when Stewart joined them they were occupying the sector south of Arras, from Wailly to Bretencourt.

On the 25th July 1916 the 55th Division was relieved by the 11th Division and proceeded south to play its part in the ongoing Battle of the Somme. By the 30th July the Battalion had taken up its appointed place in the line opposite the village of Guillemont, a place that had already proved to be a thorn in the British side, having held up more than one attack. The capture of Guillemont had become extremely important to the success of the general advance and a further attack entrusted to the 55th Division was scheduled to take place on the morning of the 8th August.

Sadly, prior to the attack Stewart was fatally wounded on the 4th August 1916. 

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

1st August – C Coy moved from Dublin Redoubt and took over Bricqueterie Post. Battalion HQ moved to Dublin Redoubt. Enemy kept up desultory bombardment all day. 1 O.R. Killed, 4 O.R.`s wounded and 1 O.R. missing.

2nd August – Relieved the 1/4th Royal Lancaster Regiment in right sub-sector. A and B Coys in line, C and D in support. The line held extended from MALTZHORN FARM where we joined up with the France on our right to a point on the map 200 x S of ARROWHEAD COPSE. The trenches were very narrow and very shallow having only just been dug, and in several parts had not been joined up. Relief was completed about 5am on the 3rd. 2 O.R.`s killed, 10 wounded.

3rd August – Enemy shelling was fairly heavy the whole day. 2/Lt C.S. Monroe and 2/Lt J. Hunt wounded. 3 O.R.`s wounded and 16 killed.

4th August – Shelling was less severe. 1 O.R. Killed, 6 O.R.`s wounded.

After notification of his death Stewart`s family published the following information;

4237 Private Stewart Morley

It is not known whether any of Stewart Morley`s personal effects were ever returned to his family in Preston.

After the war Ellen Morley signed for her sons` British War and Victory Medals and she would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

Private Stewart Morley has no known grave and so his name was later recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. His name is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum in Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 4237
Date of Death: 04/08/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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