The Reverend James Morrison, 1944

The Reverend James Morrison at the 60th Anniversary, 2004

Captain / Reverend James Gilbert Morrison


Unit : Headquarters, 7th (Galloway) Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers

Army No. : 225398

Awards : Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Mentioned in Despatches


James Gilbert Morrison was born on the 23rd November 1915 in Falkland, Fife. The youngest of five children, his father was the Reverend James Horne Morrison, the minister of the United Free Church. He was granted an emergency commission as a Chaplain to the Forces (4th Class) on the 27th February 1942 and was then posted as the Padre of the 7th King's Own Scottish Borderers on the 14th January 1943. In May 1944, he married Jean and later had three sons.


The following is a letter which he wrote to Robert Sigmond, author of "Off At Last: An Illustrated History of the 7th (Galloway) Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers 1939 - 1945":


My memories of fifty years ago are now somewhat hazy, but I shall do my best to answer your questions.


After we left the Johannahoeve area [on Tuesday 19th September] the RAP [Regimental Aid Post] was located in two houses in succession before we moved to the White House, where the cellar was indeed used. It was from there that the MO [Medical Officer], Capt. Devlin, led the walking wounded to what he thought would be an area of greater safety, but in fact he was directed by a German officer behind the German lines. When the fighting around the White House became intense late on Thursday afternoon the RAP was hurriedly evacuated. At this time an adjacent building went up in flames, but to my knowledge it had not been used as a RAP, although, of course, some wounded may have been taken there.


The RAP was then set up in a house, the exact location of which I'm afraid I don't know. Here on the following day the new MO joined us and, as you say, this was Capt. Kaye. (I met Capt. Buck later in a POW camp and he was certainly not the MO who was with us for the last few days.) Finally the RAP moved to the house in Paul Krugerstraat.


By this time we still had the medical sergeant, Sgt. Hislop, and some other medical personnel, and although medical supplies were very limited, we were able to do at least something for the wounded right to the end. Food, too, was in short supply, but we did have some army rations and these were supplemented by what was found in houses. A welcome addition were some bunches of grapes thoughtfully sent by Divisional HQ from the vinery at the Hartenstein Hotel for distribution to the wounded. Fortunately there was a large rain-water barrel at the back door of the house in Paul Krugerstraat and used sparingly the water lasted to the end.


The Dutch family - father, mother and married daughter, who was expecting a baby - were sheltering in the cellar all the time we were there. All three are now dead, but at the end of the service which I conducted at the Airborne Cemetery in 1988 the afore-mentioned "baby" came out of the crowd and introduced herself to me!


As there was much coming and going all the time, I have really no idea how many wounded were attended to at this RAP. We only used one house and to the best of my recollection it was not damaged by mortar fire. I have no knowledge of any one being buried near this house.


On the Monday we were warned that the Division would withdraw that night, that the walking wounded would be included and that detailed instructions would be issued later. The necessary preparations were made at the RAP, but when no further instructions had been received by late evening, I went over to Battalion HQ to find out what was happening, only to get there as the CO and his party were on the point of leaving. The officer who had been detailed to give us our instructions had obviously been unable to do so.


I returned to the RAP and after consultation with the MO and the Adjutant, Capt. Clayhills, who had been wounded, it was decided that without knowledge of the evacuation plan it would not be possible to get the walking wounded down to the river. In the event it was just as well that we did not attempt the journey - those who made it agreed afterwards that it would have been impracticable for the wounded. [As the wounded waited in the cellar to be taken prisoner, Morrison recalled that they began to sing "Abide With Me". He joined in, and the Dutch family subsequently sang it in their own language.]


The following morning the first German soldier to appear was a Corporal, who fortunately was remarkably calm [His first words were "Brave Tommies", and he proceeded to hand out Woodbine cigarettes, presumably acquired from a resupply drop]. Later an officer arrived who ordered the MO and the walking wounded to be marched off under guard. A day or so after an ambulance arrived and all remaining in the RAP were taken to a hospital in Almelo.


As you will appreciate my account differs in some small details from some other accounts which have been published, but this is how I recollect the events of those grim days and I hope this account will be of some help to you in your researches.


With all good wishes,

Yours Sincerely


[Signed James G. Morrison]


The Reverend Morrison is believed to have passed through another prisoner of war camp before he ended up at Oflag VIIB at Eichstatt. His POW number was 93304.


Promoted to Acting Major in July 1945, he became a full Major in May 1950, having served as Staff Chaplain with the British Army of the Rhine from November 1948 to January 1952. From then until July 1955 he was Senior Chaplain to the Forces, Aldershot District, and upon being promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, Chaplain to the Forces 2nd Class, in January 1960, he was briefly Senior Chaplain to the Forces, BFAP. Upon his retirement in November 1970, he became a Chaplain in Cyprus until the following year, and from 1972 to 1981 was Minister at the Scots Church (Presbyterian) at Rotterdam, and subsequently at various churches in Galloway.


For his services to the British community in Rotterdam he was awarded an MBE in 1980, having previously been Mentioned in Despatches during his service in Malaya in 1957. At the 60th Anniversary of Arnhem in 2004, he preached at the Oosterbeek Cemetery. He died on the 12th November 2008 at Cambridge (formerly of Rhonehouse and Kirkpatrick Durham).



My thanks to his son, Alasdair Morrison, and Bob Hilton for this account.


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