Morse, Christopher Charles

‘Kit’ Morse was the son of Sir George Henry Morse, of Beech Hill, Thorpe St. Andrew, Norwich (who ran a brewing company), and Lady Morse. She was born Annie Pasteur, the sister of C.H. Pasteur (E1883). He was the brother of George Geoffrey Morse (E1909-1914) and Francis John Morse (Coll.1911-1914).

He left Winchester in 1915 to prepare for a cadetship in the Royal Navy but, finding this disappointing, left to pursue a career in the Royal Flying Corps. He spent some time training with the Inns of Court OTC, and then proceeded to gain his pilot’s ‘wings’. He was posted to 55 Squadron RFC, which he joined in France in September 1917. 55 Squadron had formed at Castle Bromwich in 1916 and was equipped with the new Airco DH4 bomber before moving to France in the spring of 1917. The DH4 was the first purpose-built bomber in British service. 55 Squadron first saw action at Arras in April 1917, also flying in support of the British attack at Messines in June. It flew first from Fienvillers and then moved to Boisdignhem near St Omer.

By the time Morse joined the unit, however, the squadron had moved south to Ochey and Tantonville, south of Nancy, raiding Germany itself and hitting targets in Mannheim and Kaiserslauten. Morse died, aged eighteen, in an aircraft accident at Tantonville , as explained in The Wykehamist (571, March 1918): “In his last flight, while on his way to a distant objective, engine failure over dangerous country brought him into fatal collision with some trees”.

A fellow member of 55 Squadron, Capt Orlando Lennox Beater DFC, had arrived in October 1917, shortly after Morse. He was an observer, and he describes Morse’s fate in some detail in his diary: “Wednesday, November 14th 1917: Cold and misty until midday but after that it began to clear and we were warned to stand by. We started up our engines about 1300 and got off the ground at 1320, Farrington leading and the other seventeen as fast as they were able to leave the ground. We got up to twelve thousand, at which the weather again came on ‘dud’. Gray fired the ‘wash-out’ flare and we all turned and made our way back to Ochey aerodrome, where we took off our bombs and left them there, much to 100 Squadron’s disgust. The reason for this precaution is because it is not safe to land on our aerodrome with detonated [fused] bombs as, owing to the bad surface, a crash landing is always on the cards. While we were at Ochey, we heard that poor Morse, who was barely nineteen years of age, had been killed while taking off. It turned out that the engine had conked when he had got to about one hundred feet, and while trying to turn back to the aerodrome he got into a nose-dive and crashed into the trees close to our hut. He was killed almost at once, and his observer Palmer had a bad shaking, and was sent to hospital with probable internal injuries.”

He is buried in grave I.G.14 of the Charmes Military Cemetery, Essegney.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Morse
  • Forenames or initials: Christopher Charles
  • House: D
  • Years in School: 1912-1915
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Regiment: Royal Flying Corps
  • Date of Birth: 19th November 1898
  • Date of Death: 14th November 1917
  • How Died: Killed in an accident
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer G4
  • Decoration: NA