James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

John Gethin Morgan-Owen (1914 - 2008)

John Gethin Morgan-Owen Gethin and Margaret's only son, John Gethin Morgan-Owen CB 1984, MBE 1945, QC 1981, BA, was born in Camberly on Saturday, 22 August 1914. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and at Trinity College, Oxford (BA). He was called to the Bar, Inner Temple, in 1938 and served on the Wales and Chester Circuit. Between 1939 and 1952 he practised at Cardiff.

Before the war he had joined the Supplementary Reserve of Officers of his father's regiment; he became a 2nd Supplementary Reserve, South Wales Borderers. From 1939 to 1944 he served with the 2nd Bn. South Wales Borderers and in April 1940 went with its 1st Battalion to Norway. Plans for a seaborne attack on Narvik were cancelled, but the cruiser later conveying them to land elsewhere on the Norwegian coast hit a rock and sank under them. The 2nd Battalion was the first South Wales Borderers battalion to go into action.

2/SWB were involved in little actual fighting so its casualty numbers were comparatively small, thirteen wounded and six dead, but it had won two DCMs for gallantry. By comparison, 148th Brigade that had landed at Andalsnes on 17 April, in a series of defeats lost 1,402 men; that Brigade was never to see active service again. 146 Brigade in central Norway faired little better. Conditions had been extremely difficult and all the British troops had been hampered by lack of equipment suitable for the conditions and by the lack of air support. It was of some comfort to the Allies that, as with the evacuation from Gallipoli in which John’s father had been involved, the evacuation from Norway was completed without great loss of life.

Morgan-Owen remained with his battalion for the next four years, through D-Day and most of the subsequent fighting, before, in 1944, joining the staff of 146 Brigade as its Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General, an appointment in which he was appointed MBE. 146 Infantry Brigade, was part of 49th (West Riding) Division, (known as the 'Polar Bears' after their distinctive shoulder badge).