Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Noel gained a Welsh scholarship to Jesus College. When war broke out he was quick to enlist.
Son of a brewery manager
Noel Dyke Morris was born in 1894 in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan. His father was a brewery manager. Noel attended Barry County School and gained a Welsh Scholarship in Modern History at Jesus College. He studied there from 1913, and joined the University Officers’ Training Corps. However, in September 1914 he enlisted in the newly formed 8th Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment.
A chaotic start
The battalion’s early days have been described as ‘chaotic’, and Noel’s experience in the Officers’ Training Corps would have been valuable. The unit remained in England for a year, landing in France in September 1915. They were not involved in any major action over the next months. Noel was promoted to Lieutenant, and he became acting Captain for a time.
‘Sitting on a volcano’
In early May 1916 Noel’s battalion moved to occupy trenches opposite Vimy Ridge where German mining activity was giving troops ‘the feeling of sitting on a volcano’. The British retaliated, and the Germans responded by intensifying their artillery and trench mortar fire. The front-line trenches were very badly damaged, and Noel was injured and evacuated to Etaples Hospital near Boulogne. He died there from wounds on 12 May, aged 22. He was mentioned in despatches, and is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery.