Night raiders

26th January 1915

After a few weeks of two or three word grunts the Dorsets’ diary burst into life with the description of a raid.

Second Lieutenant Frederick Joseph Morley* went out at 3.30am with a patrol, found newly turned earth by some German saps and, on his way back, destroyed a sniper’s dugout.

Morley had been out with the BEF since the 17th August 1914 with the 11th Field Company Royal Engineers. At some point he transferred to the Dorsets, gaining his officer’s commission, making the awkward jump from the ranks  as a Lance Corporal to Second Lieutenant. His star continued to rise, gaining a DSO and the Military Cross in June 1915, and ending the war as a Major in the 6th Battalion Dorsets, which is some climb for a Lance Corporal. Sadly he didn’t survive, dying of wounds received in the last gasp German offensive of Spring 1918. He left a widow, Elizabeth Victoria Smith Morley.

After a day of shelling from the accursed light gun, the Dorsets were put alert for an imminent attack and so they thickened B Company in the firing line with one and a half platoons from D Company and a platoon from A Company.

One man was killed in all this shuffling around. The CWGC lists him as Serjeant William Ernest Ransome, a 27 year-old Yorkshireman. He left behind a widow, Elsie Linda, a native of Dorchester and a 3 year old son, Victor Ernest. Note the archaic use of Sergeant in the record which is apparently still used in The Rifles today. The Dorsets were merged into the Devons and Dorsets in 1958 and into the Rifles in 2007.

2 thoughts to “Night raiders”

  1. * I missed a footnote on page 143 of Volume 3 of the History of the Dorsetshire Regiment 1914-1919. Morley was commonly known as “Freddie” or “Trench Mortar Morley” after one of his engineering inventions. He also had a penchant for swearing: He cursed like the trooper he once was. When he was hit he roundly cursed the Germans in “voluble but harmless vocabulary” and exclaimed “Fancy being hit like this, and I didn’t have a shave this morning.” He was carried from the battlefield on a stretcher made from rifles and duckboards by his stalwart men but, sadly, didn’t survive the wound.

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