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Sir Frederick Edgeworth Morgan
Head and shoulders of man with a moustache wearing battledress jacket and ribbons with a shirt and tie.
Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Morgan
Born (1894-02-05)5 February 1894
Died 19 March 1967(1967-03-19) (aged 73)
Place of birth Paddock Wood, Kent, England
Place of death Northwood, Middlesex
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1913–1946
Rank Lieutenant-General
Service number 8223
Unit Royal Artillery
Commands held I Corps
55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division
Devon and Cornwall County Division
1st Support Group

First World War:

Second World War:

Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Mentioned in Despatches (2)
Distinguished Service Medal (US)
Legion of Merit (US)
Légion d'Honneur (France)
Croix de guerre (France)
Other work United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
Controller of Atomic Energy
Controller of Atomic Weapons

Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Edgeworth Morgan KCB (5 February 1894 – 19 March 1967) was a British Army officer who fought in both world wars. He is best known as the Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC), the original planner of Operation Overlord.

A graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, Morgan was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery in 1913. During the First World War he served on the Western Front as an artillery subaltern and staff officer. Afterwards he served two long tours with the British Army in India.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Morgan was promoted to brigadier and assumed command of the 1st Support Group of the 1st Armoured Division, which he led during the Battle of France. In May 1942 he was became a lieutenant-general and given command of the I Corps. Morgan's headquarters was designated Force 125, and given the task of dealing with a German thrust through Spain to Gibraltar that never occurred. In March 1943 he was appointed Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (Designate), or COSSAC. As COSSAC he directed the planning for Operation Overlord. When General Dwight Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander, Major General Bedell Smith became Chief of Staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), while Morgan became Deputy Chief of Staff.

After the war, Morgan served as Chief of Operations for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Germany until his position in Germany was eliminated following publication of "off the record" comments concerning incompetence and corruption within UNRRA, including diverting the resources of UNRRA to the support of Zionist ambitions to further political ambitions. In 1951, Morgan became Controller of Atomic Energy, and was present for Operation Hurricane, the first British atomic weapons tests at the Montebello Islands in 1952. His position was abolished in 1954 with the creation of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority but he remained as Controller of Nuclear Weapons until 1956.

Early life

Morgan was born in Paddock Wood, Kent on 5 February 1894, the eldest son among nine children of Frederick Beverley Morgan, a timber importer, and his wife Clare Elizabeth née Horrocks.[1] He commenced his education at Hurstleigh, a private school in Tunbridge Wells in 1902. At an early age it was decided that Frederick would become a British Army officer, and in 1907 he entered Clifton College, a school noted for its connections with the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. At Clifton he played rugby and cricket, and served in the School Cadet Corps, which became the Officers' Training Corps in 1908. As a cadet sergeant, he was one of many who lined the route to Buckingham Palace for the Coronation of George V of the United Kingdom in 1911. He eventually rose to the rank of second lieutenant. Morgan duly passed the entrance examination for Woolwich, which he entered in 1912.[2]

Morgan was commissioned second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery on 17 July 1913,[1] and joined 41st Battery, 42nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery at Aldershot.[3] He volunteered for service in India, and in January 1914 departed on the British-India Steam Navigation Company troopship Rewa, joining the 84th Battery, 11th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, which was stationed in Jabalpur.[4]

First World War

Following the outbreak of the First World War, Morgan's battery departed for the Western Front in October 1914 as part of the 3rd (Lahore) Division.[5] Morgan suffered a near-miss from a German 5.9-inch gun which blew him into the air and buried him in a shell hole, and he was evacuated to hospital in Boulogne with shell shock. He was granted a short sick leave in England only to be present when news reached his family that his brother had been killed in action.[6] On returning to the front, Morgan became aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Edward Spencer Hoare-Nairne, the commander of the Lahore Divisional Artillery.[6][7] The artillery remained on the Western Front when the bulk of the division departed for the Mesopotamian campaign. As it took longer to train artillery than infantry, the Lahore divisional artillery acted in turn as the artillery of the 2nd Canadian Division, 3rd Canadian Division, 4th Australian Division and finally the 4th Canadian Division until their own artillery was sufficiently trained to take over.[6]

Morgan became a staff captain in February 1916,[8] and was promoted to the temporary rank of captain in May 1916.[9] The Lahore divisional artillery was broken up in mid-1917 and Morgan was posted to the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division as a staff captain.[6][10] On 15 August 1917, he married Marjorie Cecile Whaite, the daughter of Colonel Thomas du Bédat Whaite of the Royal Army Medical Corps.[1] The couple had met on board the Rewa en route to India in 1914.[11] Their marriage produced two daughters and a son.[1] During the Hundred Days Offensive he served as brigade major of the 42nd Divisional Artillery.[6] During the war he was twice mentioned in dispatches, on 15 May 1917,[12] and again on 5 July 1919.[13]

Between the wars

In 1919, Morgan volunteered for a six-year tour of India and joined the 118th Field Battery, 26th Field Brigade, at Deepcut, where it was forming and training for service in the subcontinent.[14] Later that year the brigade moved to its new station at Jhansi. After three years Morgan was posted to Attock, where he commanded the Divisional Ammunition Column. In 1924 he accepted a temporary staff posting as Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General (DAAG) of Major-General Sir Herbert Uniacke's 1st (Peshawar) Division at Murree. This was followed in 1925 by a year's secondment to the headquarters of Lieutenant-General Sir Claud Jacob's Northern Command, where Morgan helped plan and direct large-scale manoeuvres.[15]

Morgan returned to England in 1926, and assumed command of the 22nd Heavy Battery. Equipped with a mixture of 9.2 inch guns, 6 inch guns, 12 pounders and 6 pounders, it was responsible for the coastal defences of Weymouth, Dorset. Still a captain, Morgan hoped that his next career move would be to attend the Staff College, Camberley, having narrowly passed the entrance examination. Instead, he was offered a place at the Staff College, Quetta, requiring a return trip to India. Morgan's classmates at Quetta in 1927 and 1928 included William Slim, John Crocker, Kenneth Anderson, David Cowan, George Alan Vasey and Tommy Burns. After graduation, Morgan was posted to the 70th Field Battery at Lucknow,[16] and then was artillery staff officer at headquarters Western Command, under Brigadier Henry Karslake. When Karslake became Major-General, Royal Artillery, at GHQ India in 1931, he brought Morgan to Delhi to serve with him as General Staff Officer (Grade 2).[17] Morgan was finally promoted major in 1932 and brevet lieutenant-colonel in 1934.[1]

Returning to England in 1934, Morgan assumed command of the 4th Anti-Aircraft Battery, which was deployed to Malta during the diplomatic crisis that accompanied the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935.[18] He served in the War Office from 1936 to 1938. Here he became increasingly disturbed at the lack of urgency that the government displayed in the face of a war that Morgan and his fellow staff officers felt was inevitable and imminent. That year he was promoted colonel and became General Staff Officer (Grade 1) of the 3rd Division, in which Brigadier Bernard Montgomery commanded a brigade.[1]

Second World War

Battle of France

I had won notable victories on paper and the map with the aid of greaseproof pencils and a typewriter. In the course of this very campaign, if one may dignify the disaster thus, I had seen French generals create imaginary "masses of manoeuvre" with strokes of the crayon and dispose of hostile concentrations, that unahappily were on the ground as well as on the map, with sweeps of the eraser. Who was I to criticise them, hero as I was of a hundred "Chinagraph wars" of make-believe?

Frederick Morgan[19]

In 1939, Morgan was promoted brigadier and assumed command of the 1st Support Group of the 1st Armoured Division.[1] When the 1st Support Group was shipped to France in May 1940, following the outbreak of the Second World War, it had already been stripped of its two field artillery regiments and two infantry battalions. As a result, Morgan's command included only a force of Royal Engineers and a Territorial battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, which was in the process of converting to an anti-aircraft/anti-tank regiment and armed only with antitank guns.[20] His group was in no position to fulfill its normal role supporting the division's armoured brigades and so was sent to reinforce 51st (Highland) Division south of the river Somme. During a confused retreat most of the Support Group was captured along with the 51st Division at Saint-Valery-en-Caux but the remainder, including Morgan, got away and were evacuated to England.[21]

The 1st Armoured Division was subsequently reformed, and became a mobile reserve in south eastern England. It was tasked with counterattacking an invading German army, and the 1st Support Group was given two Canadian infantry battalions for this purpose. In November 1940 Morgan was appointed Brigadier General Staff at II Corps, based in Norfolk. Morgan was promoted major-general in 1941 and given command of the Devon and Cornwall County Division, a static formation created for coastal defence. In October he assumed command of the 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division, a second line territorial formation.[21]

In May 1942 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general and given command of the I Corps District, which included Lincolnshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire. In October of that year his headquarters became a mobile formation, was redesignated I Corps and placed under Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Morgan's corps headquarters was designated Force 125. It was given command of the 1st and 4th Divisions, and the task of dealing with a German thrust through Spain to Gibraltar.[21]

This operation proved unnecessary, and Morgan's two divisions were sent to North Africa, while he was directed to plan the invasion of Sardinia. In time this was abandoned in favour of the Allied invasion of Sicily. I Corps headquarters remained in the United Kingdom the whole time, located at 1 Cumberland near Marble Arch, with the headquarters mess in the Lyons Marble Arch Corner House. However, it gained considerable experience in operational planning.[22] Morgan was appointed a Commander of the Order of the Bath on 2 June 1943.[23]


At the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, the Combined Chiefs of Staff agreed to establish a staff to plan operations in north west Europe in 1944. It was envisaged that the Supreme Allied Commander would be British, and the usual practice was for the commander and the chief of staff to be of the same nationality, so it was decided to appoint a British officer for the role of Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (Designate) (COSSAC), with an American deputy.[24] In March 1943 Morgan became COSSAC.[1] Brigadier General Ray Barker became his American deputy. Initially, Morgan's staff consisted of an aide, two batmen and a driver with a car purloined from I Corps headquarters.[25] Morgan established his headquarters in Norfolk House at 31 St James's Square. However, by October 1943, it was clearly too small for COSSAC needs, which called for accommodation for a staff of 320 officers and 600 other ranks. In November and December part of the staff moved to the South Rotunda, a bombproof structure that had originally been fitted up as an anti-invasion base, which was connected to the various ministries by the Whitehall Tunnel. Other staff were accommodated at 80 Pall Mall.[26]

Group shot of six smiling men (and one barely visible woman), each in a different military uniform, standing behind a writing desk. Eisenhower is holding three fountain pens. In the background are flags, including the US flag.

Senior Allied officers at SHAEF headquarters in Rheims shortly after the German surrender. Present are (left to right): Major General Ivan Susloparov, Lieutenant General Frederick Morgan, Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith, Captain Kay Summersby (obscured), Captain Harry C. Butcher, General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower, Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder.

COSSAC was charged with planning three operations: Operation Cockade, a deception operation to keep German forces pinned to the coast; Operation Rankin, a plan for measures to be taken in the case of a sudden German collapse; and Operation Overlord, a plan for a full-scale assault on north western Europe. Morgan and his staff worked on the Overlord plan throughout June and the first half of July 1943. He presented it to the Chiefs of Staff Committee on 15 July. The plan set forth in detail the conditions under which the assault could be made, the area where a landing would be feasible, and the means by which a lodgement on the continent would be developed.[27]

On 28 July, a group of the COSSAC staff, headed by Barker, travelled to Washington D.C. to present the Overlord plan to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to confer with the U.S. War Department about the troop basis for the operation and issues related to its civil affairs and logistics aspects. Missions were also exchanged with Eisenhower's Allied Force Headquarters in Algiers to coordinate the plans of offensive action in the Mediterranean and north western Europe in 1944. In October and November, Morgan went to Washington, to discuss the operation with the Combined Chiefs of Staff,[28] accompanied only by Major General Nevil Brownjohn and an aide. Morgan met with General George Marshall, who instructed him to proceed with planning on the basis that Marshall would be Supreme Allied Commander and Morgan his chief of staff. Morgan met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House. Roosevelt turned down Morgan's request for the services of Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, Jr. to assist with civil affairs, and also cast doubt on whether Marshall could be spared to become Supreme Allied Commander. While in the United States Morgan visited the Gettysburg Battlefield and the training camps at Camp Carrabelle, Fort Benning, Camp Mackall and Fort Bragg.[29]

The Combined Chiefs of Staff authorised Morgan to issue orders in the name of the Supreme Allied Commander to the Commanders in Chief of the Air, Naval and Land Forces, even though they outranked him.[30] When Montgomery was appointed Commander in Chief Land Forces for the invasion, in December 1943, he declared that Morgan's original plans were unworkable; they had originally been limited by the availability of landing craft, but Montgomery insisted it would require more men attacking over a wider front. Ultimately, more landing craft were obtained and the invasion was scaled up to Montgomery's satisfaction, at the cost of a month's delay and a reduction in the Southern France operation. However, all the key features of Morgan's plan remained; the choice of Normandy as the assault area, the use of Mulberry harbours, the deployment of American forces on the right and British on the left, the use of airborne troops to cover the flanks, and some form of diversionary operation in Southern France.[31]


When Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander the COSSAC team was absorbed into SHAEF. Eisenhower brought his Chief of Staff for Allied Forces Headquarters, Major General Bedell Smith, and moved the headquarters to Bushey Park. Morgan was offered command of a corps in Italy but declined in favour of becoming one of Smith's three deputies. His responsibilities covered Intelligence and Operations. Morgan coordinated the work of various SHAEF divisions and deputised for Bedell Smith when he was absent.[32]

Morgan was also called upon on occasion to deal with Montgomery, with whom his professional relationship as Deputy Chief of Staff was similar to that before the war when Montgomery was a brigade commander. On one occasion Morgan was summoned to Smith's office to find him white with rage at a telephone receiver. "That's your bloody marshal on the other end of that," Smith explained. "I can't talk to him any more. Now you go on."[33] "As the campaign progressed," Morgan later wrote, "it became more difficult for us British at SHAEF to provide explanation, as we were continually called upon to do, for the attitude and behaviour of the British authorities as exemplified by their chosen representative in the field."[34] Senior British officers at SHAEF, notably Morgan, Kenneth Strong and Jock Whiteley remained loyal to Eisenhower.[35] This cast a pall over their careers after the war, when Montgomery became Chief of the Imperial General Staff.[36]

After the war Smith described Morgan as his British alter ego, "a man I wouldn't willingly have dispensed with".[32] Morgan served in this role until SHAEF was dissolved in June 1945.[37] He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in August 1944 "in recognition of distinguished services in connection with the invasion of Normandy".[38] The United States government awarded him the Legion of Merit in April 1945,[39] and the Distinguished Service Medal in 1948 for his services.[40]

Post-war career


In September 1945 Morgan became the Chief of Operations for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Germany. He applied his energy and planning skills to the problem of providing relief to millions of refugees and displaced persons in Europe in the wake of the war. However he became frustrated with the inefficiency of the United Nations organisation.[1]

Events in the British–Zionist conflict in the British Mandate for Palestine made Morgan feel conflicted between his role in assisting Jewish refugees at UNRRA, whom he regarded as special victims of the Nazis for being persecuted solely for their race, and supporting British policy as a British Army officer. In January 1946 he created an uproar by claiming at a press conference that there was a secret Zionist organisation that was attempting to facilitate an "exodus" of Jewish people from Europe to a new state in Palestine with Soviet encouragement.[1] He later wrote:

I had been able to piece together a reasonably comprehensive picture of the way in which the UNRRA set up was being most skilfully used to promote what was nothing less than a Zionist campaign of aggression in Palestine. In defiance of the prohibition by the British Mandatory power, reluctant as ever to employ decisive means, the admirably organised Zionist command was employing any and every means of forcing immigration into the country irrespective of the hardship and sufferings of the immigrants, few of whom seemed to have spontaneous enthusiasm for the Zionist cause. The whole project evidently had Russian connivance, if not actual support, since its success would conduce to the elimination of British authority in a vital area of the Middle East.[41]

A correspondent reported that Morgan made "casual observations based on what he saw... but the controversial remarks were taken out of the context and put together by correspondents." [42] UNRRA expected that Morgan would offer his resignation but he did not do so.[41] An attempt to clarify his position "off the record" failed, and Morgan's position in Germany was eliminated by UNRRA Director Fiorello La Guardia.[43]

Morgan's statements caused a furore in the press, which portrayed them as anti-Semitic and distasteful.[43] However, Morgan's comments were factual, based on military intelligence.[44] It was reported at the time in Time magazine that: "Observers here [in Berlin]... are positive of [Morgan's] sincerity, and know he had no intention of feeding the fires of anti-Semitic propaganda." Archibald MacLeish, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, stated that when the press had finished with Sir Frederick, "..the sum total effect was a lie and a disastrous and evil lie. This brings up the question of journalistic standards. In a world as closely integrated as this one is, the question must be asked: what is the standard of truth in journalism? When the journalist is dealing with an inflammatory subject and so reports it that verbally his story is true, but the overall effect is false, are the standards of truth satisfied?"[42]

With his military background, Morgan was appalled at the corruption, inefficiency and political diversion of UNRRA. A member of his staff said that "to serve such an outfit is degradation beyond description. In fact, [Morgan wrote], to have been rejected for such service I have always felt to have been a high honour."[45]

Atomic Energy

Morgan was appointed Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Artillery in 1948.[1] In 1951, he succeeded Lord Portal as Controller of Atomic Energy. The position had been created in January 1946 as "Controller of Production, Atomic Energy" when the Ministry of Supply had assumed responsibility for nuclear weapons. The job, the title of which was changed to "Controller Atomic Energy" in 1950, had no written terms of reference, but carried broad responsibility for the coordination of all aspects of nuclear weapons production. Although located within the Ministry of Supply, the controller had direct access to the Prime Minister; Portal rarely exercised this, however.[46] It was widely believed that Morgan, who was, in the words of Margaret Gowing, "amiable but not adequate to the task",[47] had been appointed by mistake, having been confused with his namesake, General Sir William Duthie Morgan. The latter had greatly impressed Prime Minister Clement Attlee as Army member of the Joint Staff Mission to the United States from 1947 to 1950.[48] Morgan therefore relied heavily on his key subordinates, Sir John Cockcroft, William Penney, and Christopher Hinton.[47]

In his role as Controller of Atomic Energy, Morgan was present for Operation Hurricane, the first British atomic weapons tests at the Montebello Islands in October 1952.[1] His position was gradually reduced to a figurehead, with his authority largely supplanted by the Atomic Energy Board, which was chaired by Lord Cherwell,[49] and was abolished in 1954 with the creation of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. Morgan then became Controller of Nuclear Weapons.[50] Nonetheless, he was still an important figure in the push for higher-yield weapons. He pressed for the testing of the Green Bamboo boosted fission weapon during Operation Mosaic. This resulted in Mosaic becoming a two-test series, although Green Bamboo could not be made available in time.[51] A Green Bamboo assembly was subsequently taken to Christmas Island for Operation Grapple,[52] but was deleted from the test series to save money.[53] Morgan was also instrumental in putting the case for the development of the H-bomb on operational grounds.[54]

Morgan retired in 1956, although he remained Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery until 1958. He published his memoirs, entitled Peace and War: A Soldier's Life in 1961. He died at Mount Vernon Hospital on 19 March 1967.[1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Bond 2004
  2. Morgan 1961, pp. 17–21
  3. Morgan 1961, p. 25
  4. Morgan 1961, pp. 29–31
  5. Morgan 1961, pp. 35–36
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Morgan 1961, pp. 49–54
  7. "No. 29298". 16 September 1915. 
  8. "No. 29466". 7 February 1916. 
  9. "No. 29580". 12 May 1916. 
  10. "No. 30379". 14 November 1917. 
  11. Morgan 1961, pp. 31–32
  12. "No. 30072". 15 May 1917. 
  13. "No. 31435". 5 July 1919. 
  14. Morgan 1961, pp. 61–62
  15. Morgan 1961, pp. 64–69
  16. Morgan 1961, pp. 86–92
  17. Morgan 1961, pp. 100–105
  18. Morgan 1961, pp. 117–123
  19. Morgan 1961, p. 138
  20. Morgan 1961, p. 136
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Mead 2007, pp. 310–311
  22. Morgan 1961, pp. 150–151
  23. "No. 36033". 16 September 1915. 
  24. Morgan 1961, p. 153
  25. Morgan 1961, p. 156
  26. U.S. Army 1944, p. 12
  27. Pogue 1954, pp. 103–106
  28. U.S. Army 1944, p. 7
  29. Morgan 1961, pp. 167–172
  30. Pogue 1954, p. 45
  31. Mead 2007, pp. 312–313
  32. 32.0 32.1 Pogue 1954, pp. 63–64
  33. Morgan 1961, p. 199
  34. Morgan 1961, p. 195
  35. Mead 2007, p. 313
  36. Mead 2007, p. 488
  37. Morgan 1961, p. 218
  38. "No. 36668". 22 August 1944. 
  39. "No. 37027". 16 April 1945. 
  40. "No. 38178". 16 January 1948. 
  41. 41.0 41.1 Morgan 1961, p. 245
  42. 42.0 42.1 "The Press: The Morgan Mess". 21 January 1946.,9171,934400,00.html. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  43. 43.0 43.1 Wyman 1989, pp. 144–145
  44. Morgan 1961, p. 261
  45. Morgan 1961, p. 262
  46. Gowing & Arnold 1974a, pp. 39–43
  47. 47.0 47.1 Gowing & Arnold 1974b, p. 4
  48. Gowing & Arnold 1974a, p. 46
  49. Gowing & Arnold 1974a, p. 429
  50. Arnold & Smith 1987, pp. 9–10
  51. Arnold & Smith 1987, p. 107
  52. Arnold & Smith 1987, p. 181
  53. Arnold & Smith 1987, p. 185
  54. Arnold & Pyne 2001, pp. 97–98


Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Henry Willcox
GOC I Corps
Succeeded by
Gerard Bucknall
Government offices
Preceded by
Lord Portal
Controller Atomic Energy
Succeeded by

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