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Laura Morse 1875-1945
Laura Morse (*nee Yemm) 1875-1945 was born in Ruspidge. One of 3 children, she was the only surviving daughter of local miner Stephen Yemm and his wife
Annie (*nee Edwards)
Annie Yemm was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Edwards, who came up from South Wales in about 1841 when the pits were being sunk in the Forest. John
was an engineer with the industrialist Henry Crawshay; member of the Crawshay dynasty, known as the ‘Iron Kings of Merthyr Tydfil’. It was renowned as the
greatest iron producing area in the world at that time. Annie was in service to the Crawshays at Oaklands Park in Newnham.
Laura married Richard Morse (1866-1940) in 1898 following the premature death of her mother, Annie.
Richard was an overman at Lightmoor Colliery, owned by the Crawshays. Richard’s mother Priscilla Morse ran the 'Victoria', a well known local off licence,
grocer's and lodging house in Ruspidge. Laura and Richard Morse had 4 children: May, Ethel, Richard (‘Dickie’) and Eva.
Rather a genteel, reclusive woman, whose health was quite fragile, Laura kept scrap books of profiles of all the local young men killed in the First World War
(*mostly from the 13th Gloucestershire Regiment) and wrote letters to their families with words of support.
*Laura’s scrapbooks are now part of the local history section in ‘Cinderford Library’ and part of the book list of the ‘Forest of Dean Local History Society.’
They were featured in the ‘Forest Review’ in 2003 and more recently in 2014 to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War.
Every family in WWI dreaded the thought of receiving the standard B104-82 form from the War Office, informing them of a loved one ‘killed’ or ‘missing in action’.
The last Cinderford man to die in The Great War was Arthur Evans, aged 34, from Woodside Street of all places! Rather ironic, seeing as Laura’s daughter, Ethel
Morse, was to live there for most of her life, as Mrs Frank Weaving.
A lot of young Forest miners joined up, as they were strong and used to building tunnels. As a result, they were often involved in building the trenches themselves.
So many were being killed in France and Belgium that the authorities had to be careful not to alarm those who were still at home.
Otherwise, no one would have enlisted if they’d really known what the terrible reality was.
German U-boats were sinking merchant shipping in 1917 and by 1918 rationing was introduced, as there was a real danger of starvation,
especially among the very poor. There was a wheat shortage and they relied on bread as their basic food.
People often believe that it was only in World War II that U-boats and rationing were a problem, but this wasn’t the case.
Ethel could also remember the young men who did survive coming back; shell shocked, suffering from being gassed, or with war wounds like lost limbs or
blindness, with little chance of getting a decent job. A terrible time.
Richard and Laura Morse survived World War I and the Depression years. After her husband Richard Morse’s death in 1940,
Laura continued to live a quiet life in Ruspidge, passing away of cancer in 1945 age 70.
Information and Photo supplied by Kevin Marsh