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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Soldiers of the Regiment

Private Michael John Morgan


From the The Lancaster Guardian and Observer Friday, March 13, 1953

Boer War Bullet
Still in Old Soldier’s ribs

Father and son who carry with them souvenirs of three wars are 75-years-old Mr. Michael John Morgan of Shefferland Cottages, Slyne and his son Mr. William Morgan.

In the chest of Mr Morgan senior there is still a bullet which struck him at the battle of Spion Kop in South Africa in 1900.

His son carries with him the memory of a nightmare escape from an Italian POW camp in 1943.
The story of Mr Morgan senior is a real old soldier’s tale and would meet with a lot of scepticism were he not able to prove it with an indisputable X-ray photograph.

While serving with the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment at Spion Kop during the Boer War he was shot in the chest. The imprint made by the bullet which he guesses is a Mauser, is still there – just a fraction to the right of his heart.

After treatment he returned to duty and later served in the 1914-18 War leaving the Army in 1916. While still on services overseas he gained a reputation as a Rugby player and was one of the fittest members of his Regiment’s XV, which won the Calcutta Cup and the Burma Cup.

Later he worked as a postman in Barrow and Lancaster for over 30 years, and during the last war worked six years at Lansil.

During the whole of that time, the Mauser bullet was still lodged in his chest.

X-ray showed bullet

He received proof of this in a strange way.” I had been feeling the effects of the wound very slightly for years, but nothing severe enough to complain about” he said. “Last year I saw pictures in the ‘Guardian’ of a lot of people being X-rayed, so I went along to my doctor, told him about the wound and asked if I could be X-rayed. Just recently I got the X-ray picture and there it is.”

He pointed to an X-ray plate outlining Mr. Morgan’s ribs and showing the bullet, still perfect in shape, lodged down at the bottom end of his ribs on the right hand side. It had worked down during the 53 years it has been in his chest.

He smiled: “I tried to join up in the last war, but they said I was too young, so I worked down at Lansil for two years in the spinning department and four years in the joiners shop.”

Asked if he would join up again if he was a young man, he said: “In the old days I should jolly well think so. Just 18s a week was the most I could earn as a civilian and I would have been in the Army earlier if I could. At 18 I was earning only 5s 9d a week in a jute mill. Later I went to a wire factory and there I was paid 1¼d an hour.”

Escaped from enemy

His son Bill left his job with a Lancaster grocer to join up in the last war. A driver with the Royal Horse Artillery he was captured by the Germans while fighting in Libya in 1942 and handed over to the Italians.

At a prison camp in Italy he suffered the privations of bad and meagre food augmented by occasional Red Cross parcels. When the Italians were told that the British Army was getting near, and that the Germans would take them to Germany as slaves, some of the sentries deserted, so Bill made his bid for freedom.

Once out of the camp he wandered about Italy living on what he could find and continually dodging the enemy. Finally he reached the Allied line and straight away met three men from his own regiment.

Bill is now employed in the Income Tax Department in King Street. A keen sportsman he plays cricket and football in the local leagues.




© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

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