Corporal Morley Gordon
Morley Gordon was born 17 September 1920 in Toronto, Ontario to William and Unity Gordon. He had two older half siblings, a sister Margaret and a brother Jack. After completing the Grade 10, Morley left school at the age of 15. His first job was as a landscaper but by the time he joined the Canadian Army he was working as a drill machinist for the Canadian Laundry Company. His enrollment papers expressed no desire to return to that job. Before the war, Morley served with Toronto’s Royal Regiment of Canada. Morley volunteered for overseas service on 21 November 1939 with the 48th Highlanders of Canada and travelled with them to the United Kingdom in January 1940.
While posted in southeast England Morley found his bride-to-be. Morley married Violet Rose Gordon in June 1942 at Epsom in Surrey. Later that year in September Private Gordon was promoted to corporal after four months of serving as acting corporal. On 14 June 1943 Corporal Gordon sailed with the rest of the 48th Highlanders, bound for Sicily.
Two weeks after landing in Sicily, Corporal Gordon and the 48th Highlanders joined in the battle for Nissoria Ridge. On 25 July, Toronto’s famous Highlanders were ordered to capture the terraced cliffs of Monte Nissoria that dominate the commanding ridge. There strong German positions barred Highway 121 towards Agira. A patrol to the cliffs confirmed that Monte Nissoria was in German hands and heavily defended by entrenched machine gun and mortar posts. That afternoon, the 48th Highlanders made note of the enemy positions before attacking up the ridge behind an artillery barrage. Highlander companies reached the crest to discover that Nissoria Ridge was even more heavily defended than expected. After hours of vicious close-quarter action, the battalion withdrew under cover of darkness. The survivors had to abandon their dead in order to carry back their wounded back to safety. In total, eleven members of the 48th Highlanders were killed; forty were wounded. Their sacrifice was not made in vain as they brought back detailed information about enemy defences on the ridge that was used in the successful attack carried out the following day. One of the eleven killed on 25 July was Violet Rose’s new husband Morley.
1. LAC, RG24, Vol. 25982, Morley Gordon’s service file.
2. Kim Beattie, Dileas: History of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1929-1956 (Toronto: The 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1957): 282-283.
3. LAC, RG 24, Vol., 15296, 48th Highlanders of Canada war diary, 25 July 1943.
4. Beattie, Dileas, 285-289.