Howard Leopold Morry
Morry beside the Morry Property Boundary
Dad Morry's father, Thomas Graham Morry, had to demolish that was left of the Holdsworth house about 1908 because it was no longer in a condition that it could be repaired. Dad Morry built his own house on the same foundations (see his account as submitted by Enid O'Brien and published in Newfoundland Ancestor 15:1).
Morry Home in Ferryland, likely in 1940s
REMINISCENCES OF HOWARD MORRY
Dad Morry was a great diarist. He kept numerous books of memoirs all through his life, many of which have been lost or destroyed unfortunately. A few have fallen into good hands and have been preserved and in some cases transcribed. Jamie Morry, Dad Morry's grandson via son Howard (Slim), was one who cherished these reminiscences and who took the time to unravel the sometimes difficult to read handwriting and old-fashioned terminology to transcribe a certain amount of them.
Since Jamie's untimely death, my brother Glen and I have taken up the challenge to complete the work Jamie started and I am working on Jamie's brothers Keith and Howie and our cousin Karen to do their part. Eventually everything we have will be recorded here for posterity.
Its not so much that Dad Morry's life and times were all that remarkable but more that this represents a window into times and places that have now passed from the common view. Dad Morry's powers of observation and memory were also better than most and so these memoirs make interesting reading, not only to family, but to anyone with a curiosity about life in Newfoundland in those days, or the life of an ordinary soldier overseas in WWI, or for that matter the wanderings of a young man in the Canadian west before British Columbia even became a province of Canada.
If these things interest you, read on!
(Including reminiscences of youth in Ferryland, travels in the Canadian west and WWI)
This is just a page and a half of thoughts on the old days that Dad Morry jotted down one day thinking it may be of interest to others in years to come. he was right!
This is a heavily annotated transcription of Dad Morry's memoirs which focus on his time overseas in WWI. A great deal of effort was put into identifying with as much certainty as possible the individuals who figure in these war memoirs as there are excellent sources of information on the soldiers in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment online.
(Transcribed by me from a copy of Dad Morry's Memoirs in the safekeeping of Howie Morry)
This is an almost identical memoir to the one immediately preceding but was actually written by Dad Morry in a separate notebook and contains details not found in the one annotated by Glen and I. There is actually a third version of virtually the same memoirs which now exists only in the form of a typed manuscript believed to have been prepared by staff at the Hunter Library in the 1960s from another notebook which has since disappeared. In other words, Dad Morry took the time to meticulously record his memoirs not just once but three times - at least! These various versions are all worth reading because invariably in writing each he remembered things that he had left out of the others.
This is a lightly annotated transcription of Dad Morry's memoirs which focus on historical events in Ferryland and his reminiscences of the old times in the village. The only footnotes are to correct information on the history of the Morry family which emerged from research conducted after his death.
Letters from Dad Morry to his family
These are letters written by Howard Morry to members of his family in his later years. They are recorded here, not because of any deep insights or new information they may contain, but simply for the interest of the family. If you are a family member and wish to have letters you received from Dad Morry recorded here please contact me via email ( email@example.com ) to make arrangements for copying and transcribing.
The first letter was transcribed by Karen [Funkhouser] Chapman and is the text of a lengthy letter to her mother, Jean [Morry] Funkhouser, from Dad Morry on March 11, 1961. This letter is of special significance because Dad Morry went into some detail in describing his experiences as a young man, for the most part before the war. His other memoirs fail to cover this period in as much detail. I have converted the file sent to me by Karen into HTML from WordPerfect and made a few minor edits. The lion's share of the work was hers and all credit goes to Karen for preserving this important record.
This next letter was written to Aunt Phyl as Dad Morry was planning to depart Edinburgh after one of his lengthy holidays in 1967. He loved being in Scotland, where he courted and married Mom Morry. But as the years passed, his large circle of friends, whom he had met in the Princes Street Gardens began, one by one to die off, and it was becoming lonely for him there, as he intimates it was for him at home in Ferryland. His brother Graham had just died and only his sister Trix remained.
The three letters below represent only a sample of hundreds of letters written by Dad Morry to my parents over the years. Most cover the latest family news and word of his travels. But they are still of interest and worth reading to gain a glimpse of these times now gone.
Aerogramme from Scotland:
Howard Morry to Tom & Evelyn Morry, October 1971
THE WAR YEARS
Courtesy Howard Glendon Morry
"C" Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Newfoundland
Regiment at Enlistment
Howard Morry (Rear, 2nd from Right) and "C" Company Overseas
Fredris Minty and Howard Leopold Morry on their Wedding Day
A Letter of Recommendation written on behalf of Howard Morry to persuade Fredris' Parents that he was Worthy to marry Her
(Note that the letter is a fraud! Howard never worked for either George Tessier or Alan Goodridge & Sons, and the letter was dated
prior to the day on which Howard and Fredris met to make it appear that it was not solicited specifically for this purpose)
Presented here is a letter from
Howard Morry to his father, Thomas Graham Morry, written while he was still in
training in the UK before shipping out for Egypt and then Gallipoli. Little did
he know when writing this the terrible events he would witness in the coming
months and years.
Here is a copy of the pay records of Pvt. Howard L. Morry of "C" Company, 1st Newfoundland Regiment (Reg. No. 726), from August 17, 1915 until October 1, 1916. Receipt of pay was acknowledged and signed for by his father, Thomas G. Morry.
This is a photocopy of pages 8 and 9 out of Dad Morry's field pay book. These two pages cover the days leading up to and following the fateful battle of Beaumont Hamel. The Officer signing for his pay up to the battle on July 1, 1916 was Capt. Reginald Rowsell. Capt. Rowsell was among the wounded at Beaumont Hamel and his replacement, Capt. James Donnelly, signed the pay book after that date. Capt. Rowsell was awarded the Military Cross for his actions. He died on the field of battle in Monchy, April 14, 1917. Capt. Donnelly also received the Military Cross for his bravery at Caribou Hill. The official statement of the London Gazette is as follows: “The Military Cross was awarded to Lieutenant J. J. Donnelly for conspicuous gallantry and determination on the night of the twenty-fifth of November, 1915, on the Gallipoli Peninsula. He occupied with eight men a knoll to which our firing line was extended the next day. By his coolness and skill in handling his small party, which was reduced to five by casualties, he repelled several determined Turkish bomb and rifle attacks on his front and flanks, and held his own during the night.” Capt. Donnelly also died on the field of battle, October 12, 1916.
"I Remain Your Loving Son"
The following Windows Media video files were extracted from the CBC film "I remain your loving son", which is a touching remembrance of the events surrounding the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (the "Blue Puttees") in World War I. It deals especially with the campaigns in Gallipoli and Beaumont Hamel in which the Newfoundland Regiment paid the highest penalty imaginable for the distinctions they earned as a fighting force. In the battle of Beaumont Hamel, on July 1, 1916, a date that will always be considered "Remembrance Day" by Newfoundlanders, 801 soldiers entered battle; of these only 68 reported for roll call the following morning.
The words in the film were taken from letters and memoirs written by the soldiers and their families. The voices are those of others as the soldiers themselves have all died now. Howard Morry's words have been extracted and combined to deal with his memories of enlistment, the first blood-letting at Gallipoli and the fateful battle of Beaumont Hamel, which he probably survived solely because he was a married man and therefore held back in reserve.
These files can be downloaded and played in Windows Media Player or Real Player or, if you are using the latest Internet Explorer browser you can simply click on the highlighted text and a streaming video window will open and play without delay.
NB: The entire film (48 Minutes) can presently be viewed
online on the HotDocs website: http://hotdocslibrary.ca/en/detail.cfm?filmId=25081
"Battle of the Somme: The True Story"
In 2006 I was approached by Paula Potts and Judy Ruzylo concerning a project that they were working on with YAP Films of Toronto. As they described it, the project would involve retelling the story of Beaumont Hamel using the reminiscences of soldiers who were present and having descendants of theirs act out the roles of their fathers, grandfathers or great-grandfathers. They requested permission to use some of Dad Morry's memoirs in order to provide the background and possibly some of the script of the film. There was also the possibility that family members might be cast to perform in the film.
As it turned out, the story unfolded differently than first described and the outcome was that the story of the Newfoundlanders at Beaumont Hamel became more or less the backdrop of an investigation by British researchers who were trying to verify the accuracy of film footage shot on July 1st at the Battle of the Somme. As such, no family members were ever approached to participate and the use of Dad Morry's memoirs was limited to three brief segments which were read and partially reenacted by descendants of two other soldiers, Privates James Howard and Private Leinus Coombs. James Howard died that day. The re-enactors are brothers Derm and Howard Coombs. Unfortunately, the script writer accidentally abbreviated Dad Morry's name, not once but twice, to Leopold Morry, rather than Howard Leopold Morry.
The film was broadcast on The History Channel in 2006 and, so far as I know, has not been publicly available officially since then, though it has been pirated and made available in 8 parts on YouTube. A complete version can apparently be downloaded from Docuwiki.net at http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=Battle_of_the_Somme_-_The_True_Story , most likely without authorisation as well. But just this month it appeared as one of three DVDs in a set entitled: "First World War Centenary Collection -- The Somme". The other two DVDs are British productions and make no mention of Newfoundland or the sacrifice of these brave Newfoundlanders. They are simply lumped in with the "British Forces" at the Somme and as such the videos do not merit much attention. But the YAP production is worth having if you are Canadian or a Newfoundlander.
I have excerpted the three sections involving Dad Morry's memoirs below:
Preparing for Gas Attacks (3.5 MB WMV)
Cooking Bacon and Cabbage in a Helmet (15 MB WMV)
Last Mass Before Battle (16 MB WMV)
"The Bugle and the Passing Bell, Episode 5 - CBC Radio 2014"
In 2014, as part of their coverage to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI, CBC Radio dug into their archives and revived a portion of an earlier radio series broadcast in 1964, which was named In Flanders Fields. They described their motivation as follows:
The 2014 production consisted of only 10 half hour episodes, so necessarily a great deal of the original broadcast had to be left out. Nevertheless, hearing the voices of these soldiers telling their stories again fifty years later is an awesome and chilling experience.
In Episode 5 of The Bugle and the Passing Bell entitled Siege Warfare and Newfoundland's Day of the Dead, the focus for the latter part of the programme is on the battle of Beaumont Hamel. Voices heard include Howard Morry as he describes the day, July 1, 1916, before and after the battle. These two excerpts are copied here:
To hear all of Episode 5, which includes the voices of many of Dad Morry's friends and fellow survivors, as well as that of their despised Colonel Hadow excusing himself for his part in this disaster, follow this link to the CBC website while it is still active. All the other episodes can be found here as well:
On this website the producers have thoughtfully provided links to full transcripts of the original series from 1964 in both Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word formats. I have excerpted the transcript the part of Episode 8 in that series, entitled The Somme that pertains to the Battle of Beaumont Hamel and it can be downloaded by clicking this hotlink:
Here are the segments of the interview with Dad Morry that were used on air. Only two of the comments he made have been preserved in the text of the video that was broadcast but the full text and possibly the sound recording of his interview still exists as Brian McKenna had a copy of it when I went with him to Beaumont Hamel in May 2015 as part of the production "Newfoundland at Armageddon". Unfortunately I did not get a copy from him at that time and he does not respond to my emails.
The following sound clips (WAV files) contain the voice of Howard Morry, recorded in Ferryland and St. John's respectively, as part of two CBC radio broadcasts which aired on Dec. 18, 1963 and February 21 1965. In these interviews he speaks of life in Ferryland in days gone by, both in his youth and in the early years of settlement. In the first sound clip he is joined by his children Elsie, Reg and Tom, who discuss their memories of Ferryland and express their regret at having to leave this life behind. In the second clip he explains how people looked after one another in small outport villages like Ferryland in the days before there was any form of government relief or welfare.
Hear Howard, Elsie, Reg and Tom Morry's reminiscences of Ferryland:
Part 1(WAV file 7.4 MB)
Part 2(WAV file 5.6 MB)
"Name a Town - Ferryland"
Hear Howard Morry's reminiscences of neighbour helping neighbour (WAV file 2.3 MB)
This is an article which appeared in The Evening Telegram,
by Joan Mary Wheeler
These two papers were submitted to her professor at Memorial University by Joan Wheeler in late November 1970. They were based on interviews conducted by her with Dad Morry earlier that month. Each can be viewed on screen by clicking the title or downloaded as MS Word files by right clicking the title and saving them to your hard disk. You can read Joan Wheelers introduction to these papers by clicking the first title -- "Folklore Papers Two and Three".
Ken Peacock was a folklorist who made it his life's work to collect the little known folk songs of Canada, and especially Newfoundland, before they disappeared forever. In 1984 he published a collection of the songs he recorded in the 1950s and 1960s in Newfoundland and in the liner notes praised Dad Morry for the assistance and inspiration he had offered him.
The words of the songs he recorded are provided here.
One which was sung by my father, Tom Morry (The Sealers' Ball), he picked up on salmon and trout fishing trips on the West Coast.
The second song (The Loss of the Eliza) was sung for Ken by Pat Rossiter of Ferryland. It too concerned sealing, though in the harsh light of reality, as opposed to the comic verse of the Sealer's Ball.
To here these original recordings, click here.
An excerpt from "The Boat Who Wouldn't Float"
An excerpt from "The New Founde Land"
by Farley Mowat
Farley Mowat spent a good deal of time in the early 1960's at the Morry's in Ferryland while researching for several books he wrote on Newfoundland, including "The Boat Who Wouldn't Float" and "The New Founde Land" (McLelland and Stewart, Inc., 1969 and 1989 respectively). He writes of his encounters with Dad Morry, Uncle Bill, Aunt Pat, Peter and Paula. If you can cut through the bull (not always easy to do in Farley's writing), there are some interesting truths about Dad Morry in particular in these passages.
One quote stands out:
"With the passing of men like Howard Morry (and they are all too few in any land) most of the rich and vital human past of Newfoundland will have gone beyond recall. And a way of life four centuries old will have vanished."
Click on the titles above to read these brief passages.
by Eldon Drodge
Dad Morry was fascinated with the history of Ferryland,
even that part that took place long before the Morrys showed
by J. P. Andrieux
Forget-Me-Not Fallen Boy Soldiers Royal Newfoundland Regiment World War One - Gary F. Browne
Click on image above
Newfoundland Quarterly Article by Bert Riggs: Reveille - Howard Leopold Morry (1885-1972)
Bert Riggs. an archivist at the Centre for Newfoundland Studies at Memorial University, has been publishing a series of articles in the Newfoundland Quarterly entitled Reveille on individual soldiers of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in WWI. In Volume 104 No. 4, Spring 2012, the subject of his article was Dad Morry. He quoted extensively from the version of Dad Morry's diaries that has been copied over to http://ngb/chebucto.org/NFREG/WWI/ww1-add-morry726-memories.shtml but also took excerpts from the published version of Dad Morry's memoirs and other information on his life from this website. To read the article, click on the hotlink above.
by Frank Gogos and Morgan MacDonald
Another recent retelling of the events of WWI in which Dad Morry's memoirs were quoted was the recently published book entitled "Known Unto God: In Honour of Newfoundland's Missing During The Great War" by Frank Gogos and Morgan MacDonald. In the excerpt below Dad Morry tells of the carnage in the fateful Battle of Beaumont Hamel.
Gallipolian article by Dr. Philip E. L. Smith: A Newfoundland Fisherman Remembers Gallipoli
Dr. Smith is an expatriate Newfoundlander and a retired professor of Middle Eastern Archeology. He has an abiding interest in the history of Newfoundland with a special focus on the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. He is also affiliated with the Gallipoli Association based in Britain and has written four articles on Gallipoli which focus on the role played by Newfoundland in that campaign. His concern is that few know that Newfoundland fought in this infamous defeat for the allied forces. While the fact is not completely forgotten in Newfoundland, it is virtually unheard of in the rest of Canada, even among historians, and completely unknown of in the rest of the world. Dr. Smith is among many individual Newfoundlanders and former Newfoundlanders attempting to force greater recognition of this singular event on governments so that it is no longer the obscure fact that it is today and the men who fought there, and most especially those who died there, are properly recognised and remembered.
Over The Fence - Stories from Outport Newfoundland by Laura Morry Williams
In 2013, Laura Morry Williams published the above captioned book of anecdotes about growing up in Ferryland. Three of the chapters borrowed material from Dad Morry's diaries and that caused some tension, as she had not asked permission of the family and perhaps therefore did not know that I was 90% finished a draft of those memoirs for publication by Breakwater Books in the Fall of 2014. Regardless, the three chapters do add dimension to the series of anecdotes, as do the five chapters borrowed from the biography and memoirs of Dr. Lou Giovannetti. These eight chapters are excerpted here as they are relevant to the family.
When The Great Red Dawn Is Shining by Christopher John A. Morry
Shortly after Remembrance Day, November 11, 2015, my book based upon Dad Morry's memoirs, especially those focussed on his time overseas during WWI in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, was published and released by Breakwater Books of Newfoundland. This was a labour of love as one can well imagine and I am thrilled that Dad Morry's memoirs have finally been made publicly available and am proud of the part that I played in making it so. Those who wish to obtain a copy can order it from Breakwater directly ( http://www.breakwaterbooks.com/ ) or from a number of online booksellers including Amazon.ca (http://www.amazon.ca ). In St. John's copies are available at several bookstores.
On August 1, 2015, Robin McGrath published a very insightful review of this book in the Telegram, St. John's. To read her review follow this link:
Review of "When The Great Red Dawn Is Shining" in the Gallipolian, Autumn 2015
In the Autumn Edition of The Gallipolian (No. 138), the Journal of the Gallipoli Association, there appeared the following review of the book (click on image of cover below). The editor, Foster Sommerson, dealt with the text fairly and found fault only with the fact that both Dad Morry in his memoirs and I in my notations to the memoirs tended to focus more on the ANZACs in Gallipoli in particular, to the neglect of the contributions made by others including the British. While this is a valid comment, there is an explanation. It isn’t that we are blind to the contributions, much greater in proportion in terms of human life and suffering, of the British, French, Indian and other allied soldiers. It just so happens that the Newfoundlanders met up with the ANZACs in Egypt, found in them kindred “colonial” free spirits, especially in their disdain for military protocol such as blind obeisance to officers, and tended to chum around with them more in the field given the chance because of that. However, I would say that was more true of Gallipoli and less of the western front where the Essex were always on the right of the Newfoundlanders and they relied upon each other for their lives. Also, the Newfoundlanders had a strong affinity for any Scottish regiment with whom they served because of the hero’s welcome they received in Edinburgh and Ayr. Maybe that did not come out clearly in the book.
When The Great Red Dawn Is Shining Vignette by James Langer, Editor
In January 2016, James Langer, Editor of When the Great Red Dawn is Shining for Breakwater Books, prepared the following very touching vignette using photographs and words of Dad Morry from the book and the original recording of the song "When the Great Red Dawn is Shining" by Stanley Kirkby.
"The Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War"
by Frank Gogos
Not surprisingly, in 2015, the second year of commemoration of the 100th anniversary of events of WWI books continue to appear in print that examine different aspects of this topic. Frank Gogos published his second book on the Regiment, which is subtitled "A Guide to the Battlefields and Memorials of France, Belgium and Gallipoli. Not to take away from early works of a similar nature, but with the additional research underlying this book, and most especially with the wealth of illustrations, both vintage and new, this guide is destined to become the definitive work on this subject. As in his previous book, Frank used some of Dad Morry's words to illustrate points he was making. On page 114 he quotes Dad Morry on the awful task of providing some modicum of dignity in burying the dead following the battle of Beaumont Hamel:
On page 121 he explains how it was that Dad Morry was even alive to take part in this sad service for the dead, owing to the fact that he had been held back in the 10% reserve when his comrades went over the top into the face of certain death.
Finally, Frank mentions how Dad Morry described his impressions of Johnny Shiwak, the Inuit sniper who lost his life to a stray shell during the battle for Masnières:
Swatching is a unique Newfoundland term which implies waiting patiently near a seal's breathing hole in the ice until he popped up to catch a breath of air and then firing on him.
Elsewhere in his book, Frank makes mention of many of Dad Morry's other friends and companion in arms who earned great honours in battle, such as Charlie Parsons, who Dad Morry referred to in his memoirs as "the bravest and luckiest man" that he knew.
Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Dad Morry landing at Kangaroo Beach, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli
Dawn on Kangaroo Beach, Suvla Bay, September 20, 2015, exactly 100 years after the Newfoundland Regiment landed here. Left to Right: Ken Gatehouse, Ean Parsons, Frank Gogos, Keith Sherren, Melanie Martin, Neil Burgess, Michael Pretty, Chris Morry, Gala Maria Sherren
Between September 14th and 24th, 2015, I travelled with a group of interested Newfoundlanders, including many descendants of Royal Newfoundland Regiment soldiers in WWI, to Turkey to commemorate the landing of the regiment at Kangaroo Beach in Suvla Bay on the night of September 19th/20th, 1915. Before leaving I was interviewed by Blair Crawford of the Ottawa Citizen. Here is a link to the article that appeared in the print edition on September 15th and in the online version that appeared the day I left (the 14th).
On the final night in Turkey, Rod Etheridge, CBC St. John's, called to interview for of the descendants who took part in this journey of remembrance. Brief snippets of these interviews were broadcast the following morning (September 24) on the Morning Show on CBC Radio in Newfoundland with brief introductions by the host, Anthony Germain. Here is the interview I gave.
Finally, as a follow-up to the commemorative tour, Melanie Martin, who represented the Honour 100 programme of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on the trip, prepared this article for the Telegram in St. John's.
An Excerpt from Peter Cashin – My
Fight for Canada, edited by Edward Roberts
An amusing, if biased, view of why Dad Morry despised Peter Cashin, from the perspective of the man himself. Click on the image of the book below.