835380 Pte. Morley Rex Gilbert was born to William and Adda Gilbert in South Fredericksburg, just outside of Napanee, Ontario, on September 5th, 1893. He was the 6th of 8 children, with two being older brothers and the rest sisters.

Morley was a 22 year old, unmarried fisherman when he volunteered to the 146th Battalion of the CEF on January 20th, 1916, in Kingston, Ontario. Morley was noted as having a fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. He was 5 foot 4½ inches and 132 lbs, with a 34 inch chest and 2½ inch expansion and had some previous military experience, having served 2 years with the 4th Hussars. His religion was Methodist and he was noted as having scars on both thumbs.

At some point during his training in May of 1916, Morley got himself into some sort of trouble and had to forfeit 7 days pay and received 7 days confined to barracks. What offence took place was not noted in his records. After completing training with the 146th, Morley left Halifax for England on September 26th, 1916, on the SS Southland and arrived there safely 12 days later. After waiting out his quarantine period, he was transferred to the 4th CMR on October 27th and arrived at the battalion in the field on November 22nd.

Morely went "over the top" with 826 other men from the battalion on April 9, 1917, to take part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Morley made it unscathed through the battle and helped the 4th CMR achieve all of their objectives by mid-afternoon.

On May 26th, 1917, Morley was well behind the lines at Toronto Camp. It was 8:30pm and the 4th CMR was enjoying a game of baseball, when another young man from the Napanee area, Pte. Clarence McCabe, picked up a blind (unexploded) shell. The shell went off killing Clarence instantly and wounding Morley in the left arm and right shoulder. The accident claimed the lives of 9 men and wounded 9 others besides Gilbert, including:

Pte. George Griffin,

Pte. Charles Hartin and

Sgt. George Knowles, in addition to Pte. McCabe, all died immediately;

Pte. Shurley Asselstine,

Pte. Arthur Carroll, and

Pte. Bertie Traviss, died the next day at no. 6. Casualty Clearing Station;

Pte. James Dunn survived until May 31st and

Pte. Edwin Payne died on June 18th.

10 more were wounded, including: Pte. Thomas Davy

Morley was taken to the No. 2 Australian General Hospital in Wimereaux, France and transferred a week later to Lord Derby War Hospital in Warrington, England, to recover. He was transferred again on July 12th to Woodcote Park Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Epsom, before finally being discharged from hospital almost two months later on July 20th.

In October the division moved from Vimy Ridge to Flanders and engaged in training to join the Battle of Passchendaele. On October 28th, the 4th engaged in what is now known as the Second Battle of Passchendaele, where 291 men of the 4th CMR became casualties. The battle was finally successfully completed when the Canadians gained control of the remaining high ground north of the Passchendaele on November 10th.

On November 16, 1917, Morley was walking at night when he accidentally fell into a ditch and received a three inch cut over his right eye. It was noted in his military records as "ICT Scalp" and there was no underlying injury to the skull. ICT stood for Inflammation of the Connective Tissue, and was something of a catch-all term for any casualties with symptoms relating to the musculoskeletal or soft tissue areas of the body.

Sent to the 11th Canadian General Hospital in Shorncliffe, Morely spent a few weeks there before being discharged on December 2nd. He arrived back with his unit in France on January 28th, 1918. A month later on February 27th, 1918, Morley was taken to the 10th Canadian Field Ambulance with what was called "PUO" or Pyrexia of unknown origin. He was released back to duty on March 11th, 1918. He was back in hospital again sick from June 8th to the 29th. Many men were stricken with fever at this time and this was an explanation for the 4th CMR coming in last in Brigade Field Day held in a field in Erny St. Julien on June 18th.

The 4th CMR suffered many gas attacks during the time Morley was with the battalion and on August 25th, 1918, he was wounded in one and taken to the Number 14 Field Ambulance, where he stayed for a month before he had recovered enough to re-join his unit again. On October 12th, 1918, he was sent to Lewis gun course and returned just before the armistice on November 2nd, 1918.

After the war ended, Morley was granted 14 days leave around Christmas in Le Havre, France, before leaving on a ship back for Canada on March 8th, 1919. Morley was honourably discharged on March 28th, 1919, in Kingston and awarded the War Service Badge - Army Class A. He returned home to Napanee to become a farmer and married Viola Thompson on April 23rd, 1921.

Credit and many thanks go to Bryan Joyce for the above biography and image.

Bryan has written a book about Clarence McCabe's life, and this can be reviewed and bought via this link: Clarence McCabe