Percy Morgan

Percy Morgan was born in England and travelled to Australia in 1911.

Aged 21, he was working as a rural labourer when the war broke out, so he joined AIF [2460] in November 1914 at Liverpool. [ref] He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion and placed into Bert Smythe's "A" company as a signaller.

He and Bert were both wounded in the first few days of the Gallipoli campaign and evacuated to Birmingham hospital in England.

Percy introduced Bert to his widowed mother Elizabeth (Lizzie) and he stayed with her whenever he was in London. A correspondence began between Mrs Morgan and Mrs Smythe and all four boys, who also stayed with her when injured or on leave. The boys often used her address in England to receive mail as it was more reliable than army post. Mrs Morgan provided a second home and became like a mother. Bert's final letter refers to her as "mumsey".

 

This letter was sent by Percy in 1915 to his friend Will Whittington [ref] in Richmond, NSW.

 

Hpl Ship

May 9.15
Dear Will,
I expect that you will be anxiously waiting since the n'paper reports of the Dardenelles engagement to know whether I am still alive & how I am faring. I am pretty good in health & spirits but I have a bullet in the right leg which now & again makes me pull faces. The docs had a look at my leg under the X Rays and find that the bullet is embedded in the bone. I could see it as well. They will operate when we get home I suppose. when we left Alexandria there was a rumour that we were going to S'hampton but now we have passed Malta we know it to be true. There is some luck in getting wounded you see. You can guess how annoyed I feel. well it was only my fourth day in Turkey when a sniper got me but I was lucky in soon getting aboard ship. when she was loaded up with wounded we were taken to Alexandria and expected to be sent to hpl there or Cairo, but they put us aboard this lovely little packet. She is beautifully fitted & we get every attention. Previous to this she was carrying wounded Indians & we have Indians to atten besides several Indian doctors. Of course there are white docs in charge. It is just great to sleep on a soft bunk with sheets & a pillow. They have buried three poor chaps since we started. On our trip to Alex there was about forty who died of their wounds.
I hate going over and thinking about the three days I was ashore but I will let you have a little news about it. The first chaps to land was the 3rd Brigage (9 10 11 & 12th Battalions) which they did just before daylight (25th). Many a poor devil never left his boat as the Turks were all over the scrub-covered hills which rise straight from the beach, peppering them with machine guns & rifle fire, but our chaps fixed bayonets & drove them up hills & down gullies for nearly two miles and I believe they just flew. My lot got ashore about 7.30am and the schrapnel was dropping wholesale but did comparitively little harm although the Turks had the range of the beach to a nicety. From the transports we were took in near shore by destroyers and then rowed ashore in their little boats. That was the worst part. The sailors took things very calmly considering that they had to keep going backwards & forward for more men, shells dropping all the time. The chaps who landed first deserve every admiration I am sure for the way they cleared those hills of Turks. I believe their Colonel was killed as soon as he got on the beach.
Enough then for the present of that. I sincerely hope that you are all tip-top in health & prospects of being able to do this trip soon. Of course it may be only a short while for myself. Well Good-bye & best wishes to you both & give dear little "Buster" a kiss for me.
From yrs sincerely
Percy

 

This photo and the above letter surfaced in 2002 when Marjorie Wittington (daughter of Will) passed away and her son, who lived in Pennant Hills, found the letter in an old recipe book. They were listed for auction online in South Australia in 2014 and were sold to the State Library of NSW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percy was killed at Pozieres on 23rd July 1916. His name appears on the Villers Bretonneux memorial just a few above Bert's.

 

 

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