REGISTERS In Memoriam (East Knoyle Parish News)
27.10.01 Mrs. Joan Louisa Morris (Old Orchard, Holloway), aged 92.
In the death of Joan we have lost one of the greatly loved figures of East Knoyle, and our love and sympathy are with Douglas who with Joan formed such a wonderful team - as someone put it, the "Christian ideal of how a couple should be. Daughter of a bank manager, Joan was born at Carlow in southern Ireland; but her childhood home was at Warrenpoint in the north. She was a talented sportswoman in tennis and badminton and most of all golf. In 1936, aged 27, she went out to Malaya to visit her sister Elly; and there she met Douglas, a young subaltern of the Royal Berkshire Regiment engaged in the formation of the Malay Regiment. She came back to Malaya to marry him in 1939; and she was involved in driving in Singapore at the onset of the Japanese invasion.
On the day of the Japanese landing in Singapore Joan was on the Felix Roussel, the last ship to escape successfully. Bombed twice, the ship took eighteen days to reach India; and during all that time Joan had to travel on deck, and from the hot sunshine she suffered skin disease through the rest of her life. Douglas was a PoW involved in the infamous railway building, and for nearly two years Joan did not know whether he was alive. She sent a photograph in the hope that it might reach him - and it did, and it strengthened his determination to survive. Remaining in the army, they were again in Malaya in the 1940s, but army reorganisation led to Douglas's leaving as a Lt Col. in 1956. Meanwhile on Coronation Day in 1953 Douglas and Joan moved to Old Orchard and became the greatly loved and faithful servants of church and village for which they will always be remembered. In the early years they cultivated and marketed such things as carnations and strawberries; and their garden became one of the best loved of places in the village, the scene of many a coffee morning and strawberry tea. As well as supporting Douglas in his many activities, Joan was a leading figure in St Mary's Church, the Royal British Legion (she was President of the Women's Section), Care at Home, the Red Cross and the Conservative Party. Joan, with Douglas, went to great trouble to welcome newcomers to the Village and to encourage all sorts of people in their work and their voluntary tasks. Joan's personality has justly been described thus: "Warmth, generosity, consistent kindness, strength of character, courage, constancy." In recent years she suffered great frailty and loss of sight; but she has been cared for devotedly by Douglas (and by such as Anita, Simon, Barbara and Fred); she was in church until very recently, and to the very end her home was open for those wonderful coffee mornings and other social events. We shall miss her bright conversation and her kindly welcome and her fine example of enduring faith. Unable to have children, she was a mother figure for many.