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MORRISON, Arthur Robertson (1868-1921)

MORRISON, Arthur Robertson (1868-1921)

Arthur Morrison, engineer, and fifth child of College founding Principal George Morrison, Arthur Morrison died at a relatively early age in Africa.

Arthur Morrison.

Arthur Morrison.

He was a student at his father’s College from 1878 to 1886 although not officially listed in the School Enrolment Register. Arthur Morrison was a distinguished athlete, excelling in football and rowing. He played in the 1st Football Team for four years from 1883 to 1886 and was one of four College students (the others were Alex Boyd; A M Reid; and W L Reid) who played for the champion Geelong Football Club Team of 1886. He matriculated in 1884, and passed on to the Melbourne University in 1887, where he represented Ormond in football and rowing, and the University in rowing. In his first year at Ormond he rowed at position 7 in the eight, stroked by his brother Norman, which defeated Trinity for the first time. In 1888 and 1889, he rowed 2 and 7 for Ormond, winning both years. In 1890, 1891, and 1892 he gained his University 'Blue' for rowing. He stroked the University Interstate Eights the last two years, winning on both occasions. In 1892 he also stroked the Melbourne University Regatta Four, and won the Maiden and Junior Fours the same year.

He gained his Civil Engineering degree in 1892, and left the University to act as a teacher at Geelong College for a while in 1893. He instructed intending engineers at the College in the mysteries of levelling and the use of the theodolite. The next year he left the teaching staff of his old school, and, along with other graduates, assisted George Higgins in the work of reclaiming the Elwood swamp, parts of the West Melbourne swamp, and part of the foreshore at St. Kilda. In 1896 he left for South Africa, where another Old Collegian and contemporary of his, Alexander Charles Sutherland (1869-1941), had already attained distinction as an engineer.

Arthur was engaged in mining until the outbreak of the Boer War, when he joined the Lyndenburg Mounted Police, under the late Brigadier-General J E Gough, VC. In 1915, he enlisted as a private in the 7th South African Infantry, and went through the Campaign in German East Africa, being transferred to the Military Labour Corps, and promoted to Staff-Sergeant-Major in 1917. It was during his four years of military service in German East Africa that his health was undermined by fevers.

In 1921, he returned to Australia to visit his mother and relations, and, incidentally, to attend the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the College. It was hoped that the change would restore him to better health, but it was not so. His many friends endeavoured to persuade him to remain in Australia, but he declared that he 'had to return to Africa to continue his engineering and surveying work.' Shortly after his return to Africa, he contracted pneumonia and died on 26 July, 1921. Pegasus described Arthur Morrison as a ‘man of magnificent physique and character; modest, unassuming, and beloved by all who met him. Like his famous brother, George Ernest Morrison, he was a wanderer by nature, and was never happier than when answering the Call of the Great Unknown.’

Sources: Obituary Pegasus August 1921 pp 26-28. Affleck, James (Comp). Geelong Collegians at the Great War p266.
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