The Exonerated

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Morley, M.C.
144th (3rd Winnipeg Rifles) BattalionMorley

The trenches, too, have their lighter side. There are no more cheerful people connected with this war than the boys in the trenches. They make jokes about everything, especially the German shells. The officers are not excluded from their jokes. I recall one day in the trenches, when the word was passed among some of my own Tommies that some staff officers were coming down the trenches.

“Staff officers in the trenches!” exclaimed one of the boys, “Peace must have been declared!”

(Col. Morley, Canadian Club of Winnipeg, 8 Oct 1915, 86)

Arthur William Morley was a Manitoba lawyer and legislative clerk born on 9 August 1880 in Huntsville, Ontario. He moved west to study law in 1901 and set up a practice in Winnipeg after graduation in 1904. A member of the 90th Rifles since relocating to Manitoba, he volunteered with the 8th Battalion September 1914.

Fighting at the battle of St. Julien in April 1915, Morley was shot by an enemy sniper but survived. He was awarded the Military Cross and invalided home. He first helped to organize the 90th Battalion as second-in-command before receiving an appointment of his own to raise the 144th. Addressing an audience at the Canadian Club of Winnipeg, Morley described the trench warfare on the Ypres Salient: “It seemed absolutely impossible that any man could get across that little space and live.”

144thAfter the 144th was broken up in England in September 1916, Morley took charge of the Manitoba Regimental Depot. When he returned to Canada in 1919, the Manitoba legislature nominated him to be clerk of the House.

On 16 March 1925, the Winnipeg Tribune reported that Morley was admitted to hospital with a gunshot wound below his heart and was not expected to live. He had been indicted several days before for the alleged misappropriation and theft of a client’s funds.

Once he recovered from the self-inflicted wound, Morley plead not guilty at the trial in August 1925. With no evidence forthcoming, Magistrate Sir Hugh John Macdonald dismissed the case and Morley received an honorable acquittal.

Although he ceased to be legislative clerk, Morley continued to practice law until his death on 15 July 1964. During his later life, he had remained active in military and veterans’ affairs by becoming commander of the Winnipeg Rifles in 1929 and heading the provincial legion branch in the 1940s.

He died in Winnipeg on 15 July 1964.

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