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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Memorial plaques unveiled for Cairns heroes

TWO Cairns servicemen, a father and a son, were honoured with special war service memorial plaques recently, unveiled by their family and the Cairns RSL Sub Branch at the Martyn Street Cemetery.

The Cairns RSL Sub Branch along with the descendants of WO Morris and LT Morris held the unveiling yesterday, 23 October.

Cairns City engineer (1935-1960) Frank Roland Morris, remembered in the naming of Lake Morris and the Frank Morris Memorial Gates at the Scouts Kamerunga Campsite, was formally remembered for his service in both WWI and WWII.

LT Frank’s war service memorial plaque, along his son’s WO Geoffrey Richard Morris (WWll RAAF pilot), was unveiled at a private ceremony at the Martyn Street Cemetery, organised by the Cairns RSL Sub Branch and attended by representatives of the Australian Defence Force and descendants from Singapore and around Australia.

LT Frank Morris’ vision and exploration on foot through the Lamb Ranges, accompanied by his son Geoffrey, established the site for a permanent reliable water supply for the Cairns and Mulgrave Shires – later becoming known as Lake Morris and Copperlode Dam.

In his early 20s, Frank was a resident engineer on the Munbilla-Mt Edwards railway line in charge of 300 workmen and 14 staff building railway bridges and rail line extensions.

Still a young man, he was in charge of the construction of the railway bridge over the Katherine River in the Northern Territory that still stands to this day, and other works for Commonwealth Railways of Australia.

Frank enlisted in the AIF serving with the 1st Pioneer Battalion in France and Belgium in WWI.

In WWII Frank served with the Cairns Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps, as an instructor with the Air Cadet Training Scheme and was instrumental in the planning and construction of wartime airfields in Cape York and across the Gulf.

Frank played a pivotal role in the Malarial Control Drainage Scheme – working with Australian and American Army heads of staff to oversee the filling-in of low-lying swampy areas in Cairns. Malaria had surged in the district as a result of wounded Diggers from the New Guinea campaign returning to Cairns’ hospitals for treatment.

Besides his contributions throughout his long career as a City Engineer, the Cairns community benefitted also from Frank Morris’ leadership in the scouts movement, including 14 years as district commissioner, and his lifetime of support to local war widows and children through Legacy.

Geoffrey Morris, Frank’s son, studied Mining Engineering at Sydney University after his WWII RAAF service ended and managed mines in various part of Australia, ending his career as Queensland’s chief inspector of mines (1976-1985).

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Urgent call for blood donations as stocks drop and Advanced robot to help in surgeries.

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