J S Morris is one of Saracen’s fallen heroes, who gave his life for King & country on the battlefields of the First World War. This much we know, as his loss is directly referred to by ORG Williams in his 1926 publication ‘Saracens Football Club – A Brief Outline of its First Fifty Years‘. However, like so many of his club mates from this era, the details of his pre-war life and the exact manner of his passing remain shrouded in history and (thus far) resistant to discovery by our research. By drawing attention to his sacrifice here, we hope to connect with his descendants and help us bring together his story for the benefit of Saracens fans and the rugby community everywhere.
Morris is recorded as playing for the Saracens 1st XV in the 1913-14 season, appearing in the forward pack for the match v Twickenham on 1st November, 1913. ORG Williams singled him out as one of the selections for his ‘best side’ of 1913-14, and he is also credited with scoring a try for the team that season. He does not, however, appear in the team photo for this year, nor in any previous years from which these photographic records survive.
So, who was J S Morris, do we know…? At this stage, no, but we have two strong candidates….ORG Williams drew attention to the strong Scottish influence in the Saracens Rugby Club during this era, noting that “A large proportion of the team was composed of young Scotsmen employed in banks..”
With this in mind, our research efforts are focused currently on two possible candidates. Firstly, James Stuart Morris, who was born in Edinburgh and enlisted in the 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consorts Own) at St Paul’s Churchyard in Middlesex and secondly upon his namesake, James S Morris, who enlisted in London, but served in the 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, landing in France with the British Expeditionary Force at the onset of the war.
Sergeant James S Morris of the Highland Light Infantry died of his wounds on the 3rd October, 1914. Acting Warrant Officer James S Morris of the Rifle Brigade was killed as the battalion attacked ‘Pint Trench’ at the Battle of Delville Wood on 15th September, 1916.
Was one of these brave young men our Saracen? Time will tell….