World War Two Royal Navy Veteran Morrell Murphy was made an honorary member of the club some years ago in recognition of the part he played in its annual Remembrance Services. Each year he was called upon to speak the Words of Remembrance and recite the Kohima Epitaph
Members of the club and their wives along with the President Margaret Francey and the Assistant District Governor in Ireland (District 1160), Steven Costello, staged a surprise party for Morrell but being the old veteran that he is, he took the whole thing in his stride.
Born in Lisburn, County Antrim, Morrell had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy during the war years.
Morrell is a truly remarkable man who has lived a very full life and since joining the club has rarely missed a meeting.”
After leaving school aged 15 he joined up and was serving on the HMS Exeter when it was sent to the South Atlantic, along with HMS Ajax and Achilles, to hunt down the German battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee, which had been sinking merchant vessels.
The engagement has gone down in history as the Battle of the River Plate and was immortalised in the 1950s film of the same name.
Despite suffering heavy damage and many casualties the Exeter is believed to have fired the torpedo that put the Spee out of action resulting in its Captain having to scuttle the ship.
Morrell also served on destroyers in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and was involved in supporting the British and American landings in Sicily, Anzio and Messina.
On December 26th, 1944 he was on board the HMS Cappelle in the English Channel when it was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Cherbourg.
His family in Belfast received a telegram from the Admiralty informing them that he was lost at sea, presumed dead, but some days later Morrell walked though their door much to the surprise and relief of his parents.
He had spent some time in the icy water but was picked up by an American patrol boat and taken to hospital in France to recover.
After the war he joined the Civil Service and held a number of senior positions until his retirement.
His family in Belfast received a telegram from the Admiralty informing them that he was lost at sea, presumed dead, but some days later Morrell walked though their door much to the surprise and relief of his parents.”
Presenting Morrell with a framed photograph and a card signed by all the members of the club, President Margaret Francey described him as “a truly remarkable man who has lived a very full life and since joining the club has rarely missed a meeting”.
She said he was a man skilled in many areas and could turn his hand to a full range of building, plumbing and electrical tasks but he was best known for his ‘green fingers’ and the wonderful array of flowers and shrubs around his home that delighted passers-by.
Morrell has lived on his own since his wife died in 2014 and President Margaret said he was highly respected and loved by all his colleagues in the Rotary Club.