THREE generations of a family made an emotional visit to a school for a special assembly to honour its captains from 100 years ago.
As part of its commemorations of the start of World War One, Bury Grammar School Boys invited descendants of William Morris to the school for the event which also honoured two fellow students.
The assembly, entitled ‘Three Captains’, marked the centenary of the school’s sports day in 1914 when the school’s three houses were led by pupils William Morris, John Hartington and John Maddox.
Just days after the sports day, on June 23, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip, an incident which led to the outbreak of the war.
All three Bury men went on to serve during the war in the Lancashire Fusiliers.
At the assembly the school welcomed Mr Morris’s son David, grandson Lieutenant Commander Paul Morris and great-grandson Bradley.
During their visit, the family was shown trophies which Mr Morris won, as well as photographs and other documents.
William was a successful athlete, breaking the long jump record at the Public School Athletics Championships in London in 1914, and was honoured by a torchlight procession through the streets of Bury on his return.
He was predicted to become a top international athlete and also played as an amateur for Bury FC, in addition to gaining a scholar-ship at Cambridge University.
However, he was seriously wounded in the foot in September 1916 after leading a trench raid on German positions, which effectively ended his athletics career.
He returned to Cambridge after the war, and later married Marion Grundy from Bury and moved to the Bristol area to manage a cocoa factory, where his descendants now live. He died in 1979 in his 80s.
William’s two brothers Robert and Joseph also attended Bury Grammar School and served during the war.
Robert was himself a gifted athlete and became school captain, and was badly wounded in 1916 serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers in Macedonia.
Joseph was the last former pupil of the school to be killed in action during the war, on November 4 1918, just a week before the Armistice.
The school’s motto, ‘Sanctas Clavis Fores Aperit’, is inscribed on his headstone at Pommereuil Military Cemetery in France.
Mark Hone, the school’s head of history and politics, said: “Over 600 former pupils of Bury Grammar School fought in the war and 97 did not return, including two of the captains.
“Lieutenant John Maddox was killed by a sniper at Delville Wood on the Somme in 1916, aged 19, and John Hartington, who won the Military Cross on the Somme, died a year later in Belgium.