Ceremony held to honour Colchester soldier thought to be only British fatality at Gallipoli to be repatriated

Colonel Gary Wilkinson CBE, Commander of Colchester Garrison, Sergeant Andy Gibson, Royal Marines an

Colonel Gary Wilkinson CBE, Commander of Colchester Garrison, Sergeant Andy Gibson, Royal Marines and Father Richard Tillbrook, Padre to Colchester Garrison. - Credit: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC

A ceremony has marked the centenary of the burial of a Royal Marines officer from Colchester who died in the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War.

Colonel Gary Wilkinson CBE, Commander of Colchester Garrison, Sergeant Andy Gibson, Royal Marines an

Colonel Gary Wilkinson CBE, Commander of Colchester Garrison, Sergeant Andy Gibson, Royal Marines and Father Richard Tillbrook, Padre to Colchester Garrison. - Credit: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC

Captain Cecil Morton is believed to be the only British fatality from the campaign repatriated for burial after his family paid for his body to be brought back to Colchester in 1916.

Capt Morton died on May 18, 1915, in a field hospital in Egypt, aged 29, after being injured while serving as adjutant of the Portsmouth Battalion, Royal Marines Light Infantry.

On Monday, a service was held at Capt Morton’s grave in St Leonard’s Church in Lexden to commemorate the centenary of his death and the 16 other soldiers from the town killed during the campaign.

The event was marked with full military honours.


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Colonel Gary Wilkinson CBE, Commander of Colchester Garrison, said: “It was very rare for soldiers to be repatriated for burial during the First World War.

“Having Captain Morton’s grave here in Colchester gives us a unique opportunity to gather to mark the sacrifice of all Colcestrians killed while serving at Gallipoli.”

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The Gallipoli campaign, which started in April 1915, was an attempt to open supply routes to Russia through the Black Sea and knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

A total of 56,707 British, French and Commonwealth soldiers were killed before the operation ended in January 1916 without achieving any of its objectives.

Capt Morton’s grave, which was cleaned for the centenary, includes a plaque dedicated to the memory of his son, who was born six months after his father’s death and also called Cecil.

A captain in the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, he was killed fighting in Libya in November 1940.

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