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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Morrison, Edward Charles (1888–1955)

by Rodney K. Quinn

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Edward Charles Morrison (1888-1955), soldier, policeman and court official, was born on 5 December 1888 at Blessington, Tasmania, son of James Morrison, labourer, and his wife Elizabeth, née Shepherd. After farming for some years at Blessington, he became a labourer for Hinman, Wright & Manser Ltd of Launceston.

On 8 July 1915 Morrison enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a private and embarked from Hobart in August. On 4 December he joined the 12th Battalion on Lemnos and on 1 March 1916 transferred to the new 52nd Battalion, forming at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt. The battalion embarked for the Western Front in June; Morrison saw action at Sailly, France, and suffered from shell-shock on 12 July.

On 14 March 1917 Morrison was promoted sergeant and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for 'leading his men in a bombing attack upon the enemy who were forming up for a counter-attack'. He afterwards 'showed great courage in an attack upon a strong point where he remained in an isolated position with a small party until all his bombs were exhausted'.

In July-August Morrison attended the 2nd Anzac Infantry School and achieved good results. On 9 September, however, he was found guilty and reduced to corporal by a court martial for 'improper interference after an order had been given by his superior officer'. He was detached on 2 October from the battalion and sent to the 13th Training Battalion in England; the timing suggests an attempt to save an otherwise first-class non-commissioned officer from some of the embarrassment of his reduction in rank.

Morrison rejoined the 52nd Battalion on 9 February 1918 and on 5 April was wounded twice at Dernancourt. He nevertheless 'continued to take up exposed positions and fire rifle-grenades and throw bombs on the enemy inflicting heavy casualties on them. His fine courage and skill greatly inspired the men of his platoon and caused the enemy attack to be stemmed'. For this he received a Bar to his D.C.M. He did not see any further active service and was invalided to Australia in October.

Following demobilization on 3 March 1919 Morrison joined the Tasmania Police Force and served in numerous towns until 1935 when he resigned for health reasons. He resumed farming at Blessington before joining the Court of Requests in 1937; he later became a court crier at the Supreme Court of Tasmania and between 1943 and retirement in 1953 was judge's attendant to Sir John Morris.

At White Hills Anglican Church on 3 June 1919, Morrison had married Gladys Gertrude Whittle. Survived by his wife, son and daughter, he died from hypertensive cerebro-vascular disease in the Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart, on 22 September 1955 and was buried in Cornelian Bay cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1918 (Syd, 1937)
  • London Gazette, 24 Aug 1917, 3 Sept 1918
  • private information.

Citation details

Rodney K. Quinn, 'Morrison, Edward Charles (1888–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 27 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

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