PRIVATE CHARLES EDWIN MORRIS
1ST BTTN LONDON REGIMENT, ROYAL FUSILIERS
30TH MAY 1918 AGE 18
BURIED: WARLOY-BAILLON COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, ISRAEL
Eighteen-year-old Charles Edwin Morris was his parents' only child, born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and raised in Coventry, Warwickshire where his father was a clerk in a cycle works. Morris enlisted in July 1917. At one time a soldier had to be nineteen before he could be sent abroad, but after the casualties of the 1918 German Spring Offensive the rule was less strictly observed.
Morris's inscription comes from 'The Victorious Dead', a poem by Alfred Noyes first published in a special souvenir edition of the Daily Mail, The Golden Peace Edition, to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in July 1919. The inscription comes from the second verse:
Make firm, O God, the peace our dead have won.
For folly shakes the tinsel on its head
And points us back to darkness and to hell,
Cackling 'Beware of visions', while our dead
Whisper, 'It was for visions that we fell'.
All that this earth can give they thrust aside.
They crowded all their youth into an hour.
And, for one fleeting dream of right, they died.
Oh, if we fail them, in that awful trust,
How should we bear those voices from the dust?
You can hear in this the echo of a very famous line from 'The Call', written by Thomas Osbert Mordaunt (1730-1819): 'One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name'. But Noyes, and many like him, didn't think this was enough, the dead had died for a 'fleeing dream of right' and we will fail them if we don't try to make that dream come true. The dream is summarised in another of Noyes' poems, 'Victory':
There's but one gift that all our dead desire,
One gift that men can give, and that's a dream,
Unless we, too, can burn with that same fire
Of sacrifice; die to the things that seem;
Die to the little hatreds; die to greed;
Die to the old ignoble selves we knew;
Die to the base contempts of race and greed,
And rise again, like these, with souls as true.
To Noyes this dream is not to be achieved 'by sword, or tongue, or pen, There's but one way. God make us better men'.