Alfred Ernest Morris GC (EM exchanger)

b. 19/08/1881 Norwich, Nofolk. d. 29/11/1973 Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 29/05/1923 Obuasi, Ghana.

Alfred Ernest Morris (1881-1973) was born on the 19th August 1881 in Norwich, Norfolk, one of thirteen children born to Walter John and Ann Elizabeth (nee Thurston). His father was a compositor and the family lived in Church Street, Norwich. He was educated at Norwich Grammar School. He was one of thirteen children; seven boys and six girls. On leaving school, he had an amazing variety of jobs, including service in the Army (Life Guards and Scots Guards), musician with the London Symphony and Cape Town Orchestras, conductor, hotelier, shop-keeper, farmer, pioneer, contractor, builder, actor, singer and miner. He served during the Boer War in South Africa, and also had the honour in 1910 whilst serving in the Life Guards of leading the funeral procession of King Edward VII on the Drum Horse.

Alfred E Morris GC

During World War I, he served in East Africa with the African Pioneer Corps and the Rhodesia Mounted Rifles in Umtali. Sadly no records have been recovered of his medals for this service.

It was whilst he was working as a miner in Obuasi, Ashanti (now Ghana) on May 29th 1923 that he was involved in the incident which led to the award of his Edward Medal.

A cyanide solution was being prepared in a vat, when a native called Robert, who was working in the vat contrary to orders, was overcome by the fumes. Two other natives, Sikeyena and Guruba, attempted to rescue him but were themselves overcome. Mr Chardin, who was on the spot, realised the danger and without hesitation entered the vat by a ladder but he too was overcome by the fumes. Mr Morris and Mr Skinner then arrived and between them they managed to drag Chardin out. Skinner then collapsed but Morris tied a rope around himself, re-entered the vat and eventually succeeded in bringing out the three native men alive. Unfortunately, Mr Chardin, Sikeyena and Robert all died. Both Morris and Chardin were awarded the Edward Medal.

Chardin and Alfred Morris’ Edward Medals were announced in the London Gazette on 4th July 1924. Morris was invested in December 1924. He married twice and had four daughters. He had served already in two Wars, the Boer War and the First World War and would go on to serve in World War Two.

On demobilisation after WWII in 1945, he retired as a Major but was permitted to retain the rank of Captain. He was the oldest man at 91 to exchange his Edward Medal for a George Cross, which he did at the British Embassy in Gabarone in December 1972, presenting his EM to the British Museum. He was also a keen freemason, and was a fluent in a number of African languages. He died aged 94 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia on 24th November 1973, and is buried in Bulawayo Town Cemetery. His medals including his GC, Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps for Wittebergen, Transvaal, and Cape Colony, King’s South Africa Medal with clasps for South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star and War Medal 1939-45 are not publicly held.





Gerry von Tonder – Image of the Morris GC Death Certificate.