James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

The Battle of Langemarck

Morgan’s men were in support and a large working party carried shells up to the forward HQs. Zero hour was 5.40 a.m. on 20 September. Morgan had been warned that they might have to take over the whole brigade front the night of zero day.

They went into battle at 6.30 p.m. (postponed at short notice from 4 p.m.) A promised smoke barrage was non-existent. Morgan’s report of the action states, The enemy machine guns had full play and Artillery was brought to bear on the moving troops. B Company from Reitres Farm had to go right through the barrage. Steady machine gun fire brought heavy casualties as the attack began, including the loss of 10 officers and many NCOs. Men advanced without the protective barrage and sought the protection of shell holes. Morgan and his Adjutant passed safely through and reached the forward Battalion HQ. There were only 3 officers left in the Companies. Reinforcements were requested three times between 7.45 p.m. and 2 a.m. but were not forthcoming. Further offensive action was therefore impossible and the all they could do was to consolidate their position. By the following night they had handed over all posts forward of the Langemarck defences to 10th RB who, the following evening, attacked and captured the objective; later, reinforcements from Morgan’s Battalion went to support them. An expected German counter-attack never materialised and the Battalion moved back for a day before helping to provide stretcher-bearer parties. It was relieved on the night of 25 September. As Lyn Macdonald reminds us in They Called it Passchendaele, being relieved in the frontline did not mean immediate rest. In this instance, the men then had to slither in single file along the three miles of duckboard track that would bring them to the canal bank (a journey made particularly unpleasant by heavy gas shelling which forced them to wear gas masks). To the men of Morgan’s Battalion who had taken part in the action were awarded 1 DSO, 2 MCs, 2 DCMs and I MM. Two thirds of the men were casualties.