Morris George Cale; Lance Serjeant, 9th (Service) Battalion Suffolk Regiment.

Morris Cale (seated) in his hospital blues while being treated for a gunshot wound to his jaw.

Morris George Cale was James and Amelia’s eldest son, born in Melton on 29th December 1889. By 1911, he was a stores porter at St Audry’s Hospital.

Morris enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment on 8th September 1914 and was posted to join the 9th Suffolks in Shoreham, Sussex, to begin training. The battalion was initially under canvas but, owing to the poor weather over the winter months, they were sent to billets in Brighton. In March 1915, they returned to Shoreham and their training began in earnest. Mock attacks were often held at Cissbury Ring – an Iron Age hill fort near Worthing, now under the protection of the National Trust.

In April, the battalion moved to Reigate and, in mid-June, to Blackdown Barracks on Pirbright Camp. At the end of August 1915, the battalion received notification to proceed to France. So, on 30th August, the 9th Suffolks sailed from Southampton, arriving in Boulogne at around midnight — they were immediately sent to Allette for further training in preparation for the front line. On 21st September, the orders came and the battalion marched the seventy miles to Bethune over four rain-drenched nights.

They had been promised forty-eight hours of rest on arrival, but this was not to be. At 04:00, orders were received sending Morris and the battalion to Vermelles to take part in the Battle of Loos. It was in this battle that the 9th Suffolks sustained one hundred and thirty-five casualties and Sergeant Arthur Saunders became the first member of the Suffolk Regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

On the 1st July 1916, the 9th Suffolks were fighting in the Ypres Salient, based at Sailly La Bourse. A month later, the battalion was ordered to the Somme, arriving in the Albert Sector on 4th August and taking over trenches at Mailley-Maillet Wood, where they remained for the next three weeks. The 9th Suffolks were to clear the battlefield of the dead from Ulster Division.

The battalion remained in the Albert Sector area for the remainder of the battle of the Somme, taking part in the attack on the Quadrilateral on 13th September. They were also in support for the Battle of Morval between 25th and 28th September. After these actions, the battalion went into training, with an occasional posting to the front line trenches. Morris remained with the 9th Suffolks until their disbandment in February 1918 when he and around thirty-five other men from the regiment, including another Melton man, Harold Potter, were transferred to the 9th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, arriving on the 4th April.

A mere week after joining the 9th Loyal North Lancashires, they were on the front line again to take part in the Battle of Estaires, part of the Battle of the Lys, between 9th and 11th April 1918. On the 9th April, the battalion was ordered to the front line at Croix-Du-Bac where their objectives were to capture Brickfields Post and Norfolk Post. The attack did not go well, with the battalion becoming outflanked by the enemy army resulting in heavy casualties.

Morris was severely wounded in the battle, receiving a gunshot wound which fractured his jaw. He was transferred to England for treatment at the Queen’s Hospital in Sidcup, Kent, where Howard Gillies had set up a pioneering facility for what would later become known as plastic surgery. The Queen's Hospital had opened in June 1917 and, with its convalescent units, provided over one thousand beds. Gillies and his team performed more than eleven thousand operations on over five thousand men (mostly soldiers with facial injuries, usually from gunshot wounds). Morris was later transferred to Lewisham Military Hospital for further treatment and convalescence.

Morris was discharged from the army as “no longer physically fit for war service” on 15th June 1919. In 1925, he married Agnes Prince in Birmingham and the couple had two children. In 1939, the family were living at Warley, on Bredfield Road, Melton, and Morris was shown as being a hospital porter. Morris died on 7th February 1974 while living in Weybridge, Surrey.

For his war service, Morris received the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory Medals and the Silver War Badge.


Postcard From Morris Cale

Morris Cale wrote this postcard to his parents shortly before his discharge. It reads:

Dear M & F
Just a P.C. hoping you all keeping quite well as it leaves me. I have just seen my M. Officer (Medical Officer), he seems quite satisfied with me and I am seeing him and the Dentist on Sunday 9:30 he said he thought  the splints could come off, and the union of the bone would be strong enough for the Dentist to fix me up  so I hope next time I come Home it will be as a civilian.

Love from Morris