P/JX 126115 HMS Exmouth, Royal Navy

There is very little information about John Morgan’s life in Montgomery. His parents were Alfred and Emma Morgan, and they lived at Clive Terrace. John was married, to Margaret Hilda, and they lived in Welshpool.

Able Seaman Morgan died on the 21st of January 1940, aged 29, and was the first person from Montgomery to lose his life in World War Two.
He was serving on HMS Exmouth, (pictured) which was on escort duties off the East Coast of Scotland, out of Rosyth. The E-Class Destroyer was escorting a merchant ship, the Cyprian Prince, which was carrying guns and artillery to bolster the defences at Scapa Flow in the North Sea; when she was torpedoed by a German submarine (U-22) and sank with the loss of all hands.

The ship was hit at 5.30, and went down within five minutes and all 189 men on board perished. Naval Command ordered other ships in the area to sail ahead and not attempt to stop to pick up any men in the water, because the prospect of a further strike by the U boat on another ship would have meant the loss of even more lives. It had already fired on, but missed, the Cyprian Prince. 18 bodies were eventually washed up near Wick, and found by a boy playing truant from school. They were buried with full military honours in Wick.

Those whose bodies were never recovered, including Able Seaman John Morgan are remembered at the Royal Naval Memorial in Portsmouth, which faces the sea, and was built following the First World War; together with an identical memorial at Plymouth, and Chatham, to remember those who lost their lives whilst serving their country in the navy.

The Portsmouth memorial has 10,000 names from World War One, and 15,000, including John Morgan, who died in the second World War.