James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Last of the fighting - end of the war

(Map of area, for reference.)

As a result of the great losses suffered by the Battalion, it was dispersed into three groups, two of which became attached to other Divisions, the third joining the line between Mesnil-St-Nicaise and Rouy-le-Petit. Heavy German shelling accompanied an attack on their position down the Mesil-Nesle Road. French reinforcements attempted, unsuccessfully, to retake Nesle and the men were ordered to retire to Roye at about 11.30 pm on 25 March. At 6 a.m. they marched via Villers-les-Roye, Erches and Arvillers to Quesnel. On 26 March General Foch had been charged with the task of co-ordinating the Allied Armies on the Western Front. He thought it vital that the Allies hold their ground around Amiens. That same day a rumour that the Germans were massing nearby prompted the men to take up defensive positions around Quesnel but it came to nothing and the remnants of the Battalion were supporting the line that evening. The next day they successfully repulsed a German attack by counterattacking and the following day they were relieved. They marched via Quesnel to a wood on the main Amiens-Roye Road. The fighting strength of the Battalion was then just 170, all ranks. On the afternoon of 29 March this depleted force supported a failed counterattack on Mezieres but inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. Morgan himself was injured and by the evening the Battalion strength was down to 6 officers and 40 ORs. Its losses for March totalled 479 and Morgan was one of its 23 officer casualties.

Morgan, perhaps convalescing from his injury, was not mentioned again in the Battalion War Diary. On 1 April, 11th RB withdrew from the front line for much-needed reorganisation. Lt. Col. Cotton resumed command on 30 May and, following an epidemic of 'four-day fever' it was back up to strength by late July. During the summer it suffered only light casualties in actions north of Arras, around Lens. It was gradually dispersed in 1919 and finally disbanded at the end of May.

Morgan was both gassed and severely wounded during his service on the Western Front. He was lucky to survive one incident when he was coming out of his tent. He was buttoning on his revolver when the butt and handle deflected a bullet away from his vital organs. It entered his lower arm where it shattered the bone. This had to be replaced with a silver rod, resulting in the virtual termination of his sporting career. However, I am told he spent a rewarding period in hospital where he played the Stock Market and amassed about £46 000. His military service did not end there; in World War II he commanded the 11th Battalion of the Derbyshire Home Guard until he reached retirement age in 1942.