Morgan John Miles was born about 1888 in Llanwanno (Mountain Ash).
We know little of his early years. He probably went to the pits at an early age, as did the rest of the men in the family.
His sister Blodwyn records the following at the time that he joined the army during W.W.I: "The next shock for my poor mother, my brother Morgan asked her could he join the army. He explained the war would not last long, he also explained he never had a holiday in his life . . . it would be nice. He joined the Dorsetshire Regiment. He was soon sent to France. The regiment was wiped out. He fought at Hill 60 and many other places. He later joined the Royal Engineers. He was allowed a leave every three months. He brought his allowance with him which he could spend while on active duty. I believe of all our seven sisters I was the most proud of him. he would give my mother some money. He did allow her 10 shillings a week allotment payment. He treated us children and our friends very well. He would [buy] ice cream wafers for us all in the Italian Store in our village. He also spent a lot of money in the pubs. He told us of his experiences in the war."
I have found the following description of life at Hill 60; presumably Morgan John was there during the period referenced:
"On 5th July, 1915, the 1st Dorsets were holding trenches at the
foot of Hill 60,
near Ypres, Belgium. They had endured the fierce fighting, gas and
mines of the May
attacks and counter-attacks. By the beginning of July, the Germans had
themselves on the crest of the hill (nothing more than a small mound of
earth) where they
were to remain until the Messines action of 1917.
But Hill 60 was never quiet. Bombardments would begin, apparently without reason, last for a while and end just as unexpectedly. July 5th 1915 saw the beginning of a bombardment which lasted several hours and which included the use of a heavy trench mortar. At the end of it, seventeen men were found to have been killed. Two bodies were found lying in a pool of water seventy yards away. Others were badly mangled. Private Woods was found in eight pieces."
Such was the horrific 'nice' time that he had in the army in France.
Another family remembrance of his war years came from his younger
brother Edmund who
said that "Morgan John became a sapper in engineers Gloscester Regt..
He had a leave
of absence during battle of Somme. He had been sent back to get water
through tunnels -- a junior officer took water to wash with and he gave
him a rough time and he was to be court
marshaled. He was a tough."
Morgan John Miles during W.W.I
The photograph is interesting in displaying some of his character. The turned up collar in this formal photograph
(obviously taken in a photographer's studio) is in violation of regulations; it is clear that he was not
particularly concerned about such matters!
Marriage and Life
Phoebe was involved with the church -- Lucy Ann had contract for the new school maintenance -- children did the work.
In 1929 when Blodwyn and Reg left for Canada, Morgan and Phoebe took over the care of May's children Phyllis and Morgan John. Phyllis in later life always spoke fondly of her Auntie Pheobe. This time of care would account for the following photographs being amongst those in Phyllis' album.
|Morgan John is seated,. Behind him on the left is his nephew Frank Wright and on the right is his brother-in-law Frank Wright. Frank married Morgan's older sister Margaret. The son was one of three children||Morgan John Morgan with his Aunt Phoebe. This was probably taken in the mid 30's (Morgan was born about 1920).|
Morgan took over as caretaker of the school after his mother Lucy Ann died.
Death and Burial
He visited Canada in about '46 or '47 -- age of 67 -- returned home
to Mountain Ash to
return to Phoebe -- died within a day or so returning. At this time we
do not have a
record of the time of death of Phoebe. We do not have details on where
they are buried.
last modified 8 December 2002