Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 22, 1895
Place of BirthWinnipeg, Manitoba
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. John Morrison (mother), 315 Lorne Street, Edmonton, Alberta
Trade / CallingSoda fountain dispenser
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number905130
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion49th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentEdmonton, Alberta
Address at Enlistment315 Lorne Street, Edmonton, Alberta
Date of EnlistmentJuly 3, 1916
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 19, 1979
Age at Death84
Buried AtEdmonton Municipal Cemetery, Edmonton, Alberta
PlotSection K, Block 16, Plot 3

Morrison, Byron

Private Byron Morrison enlisted in July 1916 and served in France and Belgium with the 49th Battalion. He was seriously wounded in October 1917 at the Battle of Passchendaele and invalided back to Canada a year later.

Byron was the youngest son of William John Robert Morrison and Sarah Stinson of Edmonton, Alberta. Byron’s father, usually known as John, was born in Peel County, Ontario and Sarah was from Toronto. They were married in Toronto in 1881. John was a baker and confectioner and their first child, Herbert, was born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1883. Sons John Sebastian (1886) and Norman (1889) were born in Toronto. The next two children were born in Winnipeg, Hazel (1893) and Byron (22 November 1895). From there the family moved to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), in northwestern Ontario, where they lived for at least twelve years. They had two more daughters, Ada (1899) and Fanny (ca1905). Around 1912 the family moved again, this time to Edmonton, Alberta.

Byron’s brother Norman Morrison enlisted in November 1914. He was seriously wounded at Festubert in May 1915 and after a long recovery in Great Britain he was invalided home in the fall of 1916. Byron had enlisted that summer, on 3 July 1916, in Edmonton. He was twenty years old, living at home and working as a soda fountain dispenser. He joined the 194th Battalion (Edmonton Highlanders) and trained with them over the summer and fall at Sarcee Camp, near Calgary. They headed to the east coast at the end of October, embarking from Halifax on the SS Olympic on 14 November and arriving in the UK about a week later. In January 1917 Byron was transferred to the 9th Reserve Battalion and in June he was drafted to the 49th Battalion and sent to France. When he joined his new unit in the field in late July they were near Lens.

In October all four divisions of the Canadian Corps moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917). Even before it began the battlefield was a wasteland of swamp, mud and water-filled craters and sometimes the men were knee-deep and even waist-deep in mud and water. The assault on the ridge took place in several stages and the 49th Battalion was brought in for the second phase. They moved into position on 29 October and the advance started the next morning before dawn. Despite facing heavy machine gun and artillery fire the 49th Battalion reached and held their intermediate objective but casualties were high that day, estimated at 70 killed and about 270 wounded. Byron was one of the wounded, hit by an artillery shell.

Byron was taken to No. 8 Canadian Field Ambulance, suffering from injuries to his feet, thigh and cheek. His left foot was amputated as well as one toe on his right foot. On 5 November he was moved to the South African General Hospital in Abbeville and listed over the next few days as dangerously ill. By 10 December he was well enough to be evacuated to England where he was admitted to the Lord Derby War Hospital in Warrington. After a long recovery there he was moved to Granville Special Canadian Hospital in September 1918 then to the 5th Canadian Hospital in Liverpool on 1 November. At the end of November he was invalided to Canada, sailing on the hospital ship Araguaya and arriving in Halifax on 7 December.

On 10 December Byron was admitted to Davisville Military Hospital in Whitby, Ontario. In March 1919 he was moved to the Dominion Orthopedic Hospital in Toronto where he spent another year recovering. His leg was re-amputated, leaving 8″ below the knee, and he was fitted with an artificial leg and foot. Byron was discharged in Toronto on 29 March 1920 and he returned to his home in Edmonton. He became involved with the Amputations Association of the Great War, which was chartered in 1920 and later renamed the War Amputations of Canada. Another member was his future wife, Madeleine Frances Jaffray.

Madeleine was born in 1889 in Chicago and grew up in Galt, Ontario, the oldest daughter of James Peter Jaffray and Adeline Estelle Little. During the war Madeleine served with the French Flag Nursing Corps in France and Belgium. After being wounded by an artillery shell she had to have one of her feet amputated and on her return to Canada she worked at the Dominion Orthopedic Hospital. Her brother Harland Winston Jaffray had enlisted in 1916 at age 17 and he was wounded in the last months of the war.

Madeleine and Byron apparently met in 1926. They were married the following year, on 23 September 1927, during the Amputations Association convention in Hamilton, Ontario. They made their home in Edmonton where Byron had a long career as a jeweller and watchmaker. Madeleine worked for the Victorian Order of Nurses and they both continued to be involved with the War Amps as well as other organizations. Madeleine passed away on 23 July 1972, at age 83.

Byron retired in the early 1970s. He died in Edmonton on 19 December 1979, at age 84. He was survived by his second wife, Helen, and his youngest sister Fanny. Byron, his parents and his first wife Madeleine are buried at Edmonton Municipal Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

Morrison-Byron-90 Morrison-Byron-91 Morrison-Byron-92

Grave marker photo courtesy of Alison Glass.


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