Edward Morgan 1883-1922
Born Fforestfach, Swansea; listed as Pupil Teacher 1901. Resident in Germany 1906 and 1916 (I have copies of letters from Edward Morgan to William Evans, his brother-in-law). Employed at various times as a teacher and a staff member of the Cardiff Labour Exchange. He was also a correspondent with the “Herald of Wales” and the “Cambrian Leader”.
Edward enlisted in 2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, in September. 1914 and was posted to France in July the following year. This battalion was part of 24th Brigade, 8th Division, and Edward would have been involved in the action of Bois Grenier (25 September 1915), a hard fought engagement which was one of several subsidiary attacks in support of the Battle of Loos.
On the 18th of October 1915 24th Brigade transferred to 23rd Division to instruct the inexperienced troops and the Cambrian Daily Leader, 25 December 1915, reported:
“It will interest Gorseinon readers to know that Rifleman Edward Morgan, 2nd Rifle Brigade, who has been out at the front for some months, has been transferred to the Royal Engineers. For many years Rifleman Morgan acted as the local correspondent for the “Leader” and “Herald of Wales.” He has travelled extensively in Germany as an English teacher. It was his knowledge of the system of Labour Exchanges in German that secured him a, berth in this country when they were introduced here. Previous to enlisting he was on the staff of the Labour Exchange at Cardiff. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. Morgan, reside at Gorseinon, whilst a brother-in-law is Councillor William Evans, Llanerch, Gorsienon”.
A letter from Edward to William, dated 15 January 1916, reveals that he was engaged in surveying activities and explains how he rejected Officer status in favour of remaining a Private.
Sat. 15th Jan 1916
Very many thanks for your interesting (though short) letter. I am still at the surveying job and am getting to see quite a large bit of the country around here. It’s considerably more interesting than sticking in the mud in the trenches. I seem to have had the “hang” of requirements here very well and have been put in charge of the whole job. Stripes have been offered – and refused. I shall still continue a private infantryman or, as I am known amongst the Engineers, as Surveyor Morgan. Of course I cannot give you any information about the exact work – that would be betraying a trust, but I possess information which would be extremely useful to Fritz, opposite.
You flatter me when you ask my opinion of the position and the possibility or probability of crushing the enemy. I can speak with confidence of the part of the line that we have the enemy well under control and could at any time pick them out of their trenches with our “toothpicks” and there is hardly one of us who would not like the job. You remember the advance the French made in Champagne last Sept or August? While that was going on we engaged the enemy’s flank as a division, but to our disgust were not allowed to move forward. We know all about them – how their trenches are manned – the morale of the men whom we have listened to in the nights. We have crawled off to their trenches, through their barbed wire hung over their trenches, counted the men in their saps but we are not allowed to advance. Only a general advance will allow us to go forward. We are somewhat too advanced in this part as it is. If we went further we should get enfiladed but when a general advance comes, and we hope it will come soon, we shall be over there like wild devils. In cold blood it seems a ghastly business but when your blood is up and shells crash around your feet you would eagerly go through hell itself. I shall have a lot to tell you when the business is over but don’t read all the letter to the good people next door. Now to more important things. The smoking material was excellent with the exception of the pipe which was not to my taste. A half-smoked clay pipe is much more to my liking.
I must now conclude. Trusting you are all in the best of health.
PS I am having the letter posted by a friend in Nottingham”.
On 22 July 1916, the “Herald of Wales” newspaper reported:
“News has been received by Mr. and Mrs. William Morgan that their son, Rifleman Edward Morgan, has been wounded, and is at present at the Military Hospital, Epsom. Rifleman Morgan enlisted in September. 1914 and was drafted out to France in July, 1915. Previous to enlisting he was on the staff of the Labour Exchange. Cardiff. At one time in the scholastic line he gained much experience through travelling as an English master on the Continent. Locally he will be remembered as the one time correspondent for the Leader and Herald. Councillor William Evans (Swansea Rural District) is a brother-in-law”.
On 28 December 1916, the “Cambrian Daily Leader” included a poem written by Edward Morgan entitled “A Soliloquy on Pipes”, prefaced with the following comment from the newspaper, “The following, entitled A Soliloquy on Clay Pipes,” has been sent home by Rifleman Edward Morgan, Gorseinon, and is indicative of the spirit that the rigours of warfare in the trenches breeds amongst our brave soldiers
In December 1919, he married Charlotte Miriam (‘Minnie’) Labron in Wrexham. Minnie was the daughter of John and Louisa Morgan (Shelby) Labron.
On 27 April 1870, Minnie’s father, John Labron, aged 11, was committed to Reformatory School in Leeds for a period of “14 Days, 5 Years” for the theft of £1-4s-9d from the Post Office in Leeds where he was employed as a Messenger Boy.
Minnie’s father died on 7 June 1882 when she was a few weeks’ old. Her mother remarried in 1885, John Jones, with two daughters and a son being borne of that marriage. In 1891, she was living with her grandparents, John and Sarah Ann (Owen) Shelby in Cross Street, Wrexham. In 1901 she was with her spinster aunts Margaret Jane and Sarah Ann Shelby and her adopted uncle Henry Robert Hubband (an adopted son of Minnie’s grandparents John and Sarah Ann (Owen) Shelby. Henry was deaf and dumb) They were living at 2 End Spring Road, Wrexham and Minnie was a Stationers Assistant. She was still with them in 1911. Reports in The “Wrexham Advertiser” and “North Wales News” show that Minnie was quite talented. In February 1895 she took a small part in the St James’ Band of Hope concert and the following year she won prizes at Rhosddu Board Schools’ prize giving for needlework and for recitation. In 1900 she performed in an operetta to raise funds for St James’s Church Sunday School.
Edward died on 24 October 1922 at 37 Spring Road, Rhosddu, Wrexham where he lived with his wife and the two spinster aunts, Margaret Jane and Sarah Ann. At the time of his death he was described as “Official in Ministry of Labour”. Minnie died on 28 June 1923, the cause of both their deaths being tuberculosis. There were no children of the marriage. Probate from the estate of Edward was granted to Timothy Morgan Owen Shelby, Minnie’s uncle who was Headmaster of Brymbo Church School and a former Treasurer of the Wrexham Branch of the National Union of Teachers.
Edward and Minnie are buried in Wrexham Cemetery in a grave shared with Minnie’s aunt, Sarah Ann (known as “Lallie”) Shelby (1871-1923). Minnie’s mother is buried in an adjacent grave together with her second husband, John Jones (1853-1940).
Moira Cholerton, a descendant of the Owen/Shelby family, has published a very comprehensive on-line family history, in which she refers to Edward and Minnie as follows:
“John Labron’s death almost coincided with the birth of his daughter, Charlotte Miriam (aka Miriam Charlotte) Labron [Wrexham 1882, 2nd qtr], known as Minnie. In 1891, her mother having remarried, Miriam was living with the Shelby family at 11 Cross Street, Wrexham. In 1901 she was with her aunts Margaret and Sarah Shelby and her adopted uncle Henry Hubband at 2 End Spring Road, Wrexham and she was a Stationers Assistant. She was still with them in 1911.
“Reports in The Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales News show that Minnie was quite talented. In February 1895 she took a small part in the St James’ Band of Hope concert and the following year she won prizes at Rhosddu Board Schools’ prize giving for needlework and for recitation. In 1900 she performed in an operetta to raise funds for St James’s Church Sunday School
“On 1 April 1908 she became a Supplementary Teacher (an untrained teacher, approved by His Majesty’s Inspector) at Brymbo Council School, where her uncle, Timothy Shelby, was headmaster. The School Log shows that teachers rarely missed school through illness but illness forced Minnie to miss the occasional day; in October 1911 it was due to “a badly gathered heel” (i.e. an inflamed heel). She was, however, conscientious:
“Miss Labron, who was suffering from Influenza, was absent on Tuesday morning but came to school the rest of the week, although she was obviously unwell. School Log 7-11 Feb 1910. She clearly should have given herself longer to recover as, from 17-23 February, she was again absent, “suffering from Influenza and an abscess in her ear”.
“In 1919 Minnie married Edward Morgan [Wrexham 1919, 4th qt]. Olwen Hedley, one of Louisa’s granddaughters by her second marriage, recalled that Edward had been a captain in the army and that he was especially nice and taught her German. I was told that they had no children and that both Minnie and Edward died of tuberculosis, the same illness that had claimed the life of Minnie’s father. Edward, then an official at the Ministery of Labour, died on 24 October 1922 [Wrexham 1922, 4th qtr], aged 40, and Minnie on 28 June 1923 [Wrexham 1923, 2nd qtr], aged 38. At their deaths both were of 37 Spring Road, Rhosddu, Wrexham. Minnie’s aunts, Margaret and Sarah Shelby, lived at that address and Sarah also died in 1923 so it may well be that she too died of TB. As was the case for both of these aunts, probate for Edward and Minnie was granted to Minnie’s uncle Timothy Morgan Owen Shelby”.
Researched by Annette Edwards. June 2018.
Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery J-02433