William Henry Morris was a Hertfordshire man who married there in 1931 and had a daughter five years later. As a Territorial he was mobillised at the outbreak of the war and by March 1940 was based at the Drill Hall in Chelmsford. That month he was found there with sixteen stab wounds in his chest from which he died in hospital afterwards. An inquest later concluded he had committed suicide.
William was born on 1st October 1903 in Hertford, Hertfordshire, the son of William George Morris (born 1872) and Esther Elisabeth Morris (nee Plumb) (born 1879). His parents had married in Hertford in 1899. William\s siblings included Cecil John Morris (1906-1957), Marjorie Winifred Morris (born 1907), Mary Ellen Morris (born 1908), Olive Louisa Morris (born 1910), Ida Elizabeth Morris (born 1912), Clifford George Morris (born 1913), Richard John Morris (born 1915) and Annie D. Morris (born 1916).
The 1911 census recorded seven year-old William living with his parents and four siblings ay 2 Oak Street in Hertford. At the time his father was employed as a labourer in a gravel pit.
In 1931 William married Elsie Florence Potts in Hertfordshire. The couple had a daughter, born five years later.
During the Second World War William served as Gunner 730697 in 86 (The Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. The Regiment was a Territorial Unit that had been mobilised at the outbreak of the war.
On 25th March 1940 he was discovered suffering from serious wounds to his chest by other soldiers at the Drill Hall Stores in Market Road, Chelmsford. Although he was rushed to the Chelmsford & Essex Hospital he was to succumb to his injuries the next day. At his inquest it was determined that Gunner Morris had committed suicide by self-inflicting sixteen stab wounds to his chest in a frenzied attack. Thirty-six year old Morris, who came from Hertford, had been in the army just ten months.
William Henry MORRIS, Gunner, 86 (The Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
Committed suicide in Chelmsford. Aged 36
A Chelmsford newspaper reported:
William Henry Morris, 36, a gunner, whose home address was at Oak Street, Hertford, was found dying in a Chelmsford hall on Easter Monday with sixteen wounds in his chest.
The inquest was conducted by Mr. Coroner L. F. Beccle on Monday, R.Q.M.S. M. J. Williams said deceased was his storeman. He was normal, hardworking fellow who did not complain about anything. He did not have any grievances or grouses, and was always very quiet.
On Easter Monday witness went to the stores, as he was due to meet the deceased there. Witness knocked on the door and rang the bell but could not get an answer. Thinking that it being holiday period, deceased had had his dinner and had gone to sleep, witness went away, returning after about half an hour.
He then found the door was open, and saw the deceased lying at the bottom of the stairs on his back and In his service kit. "He was smothered with blood," said witness. " 1 asked him what had happened, and he mumbled and said, ' They called me a coward, and to prove that I am not I have done this.' I found that he was badly wounded in the chest, part of which was bare. I made him as comfortable as I could and rang for assistance." In reply to the Coroner, witness said he had not been able to trace anything concerning the remark deceased made to him.
Dr. F. E. Camps said deceased had sixteen stab wounds on the chest. They gave witness the impression of having been inflicted by man in a frenzy. The Coroner, recording a verdict that deceased killed himself while of unsound mind, said the man at the time must have been in a state of mental furore. His remark about cowardice was, apparently, a pure delusion on his part."
Today William lies in All Saints' Churchyard in Hertford (Plot 4th Quarter. Row 10. Grave 10.).