Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Edward George Morley 1899—1920 

Edward Morley was born at Farnham, Surrey in 1899.  

He joined the Royal Navy as a boy and served on several ships during the Great War. It is suggested that Morley contracted malaria while serving in the navy and continued to suffer the effect of the disease after his demobilisation. 

 On St George’s Day 1918, he was present when a joint operation involving the Navy and Royal Marines attacked the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium. Zeeburgge served as an important base for German U-Boat activity. British forces took heavy casualties when a change in wind direction hampered the effectiveness of smokescreens and the obstructions they did manage to place were soon removed, but the operation was lauded for the bravery displayed and Morley took part in a ballot that elected participants for the Victoria Cross. After demobilising, he was employed as a gardener. 

From 1920, the RIC responded to low morale and widespread resignations amongst its members by launching a recruitment drive in Britain, overseen by Major Cyril Fleming. 

Fleming was a third generation RIC officer, who had served on the western front with the Irish Guards and his enlistees were often unemployed or hard-up ex-servicemen. These new policemen gained the nickname the ‘Black and Tans’ after being issued with an impoverished uniform, comprising of khaki trousers and a dark green RIC tunic.    

On 14 May 1920, Fleming provided references for Morley and 13 more ex-service men which enabled then to enlist in the RIC. The next day the Edinburgh Evening News reported… 

‘A batch of recruits for the Royal Irish Constabulary left London for Dublin last night. Over 600 recruits, all ex-servicemen have through the London recruiting office at Scotland Yard since it opened in January last, they are all picked men.’ (1)

 After a truncated period of training at the Phoenix Park depot most of Morley’s colleagues were sent to Munster but the former sailor was deployed to Kings County and stationed at Clonbullogue.  

On 9 September Morley ate his breakfast with the rest of the garrison and returned to his room. Sometime later he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. 


Sources:  

Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Online at https://www.cwgc.org/our-work/blog/the-zeebrugge-raid-at-105-the-trials-tragedy-of-a-daring-amphibious-assault/

Jim Herlihy. Garda Historical Society.  ‘Echoes from the past, the Phoenix Park training depot’ online at http://www.policehistory.com/phoenix_park.html  

Royal Irish Constabulary Service Record. Service number 71418. HO 184/37. Online at  https://www.findmypast.ie

Royal Navy Service Records. Service Number J34812. ADM 188/16/34812. Online at  https://www.findmypast.ie

Daithí O Corráin and Eunan O’Halpin. The dead of the Irish Revolution. (Yale) 2020. 

Edinburgh Evening News. May 15, 1920.  

Cork Examiner.  September 11, 1920.  

(1) Edinburgh Evening News. May 15, 1920. 

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