Interview with World War I Veteran Evan Wales Morgan

By Coutts, Robert | Manitoba History, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

Interview with World War I Veteran Evan Wales Morgan


Coutts, Robert, Manitoba History


Raised on a farm near Swan River, Evan Wales Morgan, who will turn one hundred years of age in September, is one of the last of a handful of surviving Canadian veterans of World War I. Recalling his long and eventful life, Mr. Morgan spoke to Manitoba History this past February at his residence in Winnipeg.

Evan Wales Morgan was born in 1897 in the closing years of the nineteenth century and looks forward to life in the twenty-first century. Over almost a century of living, Mr. Morgan has memories of events that for most of us are found only in history texts. The son of William and Mary Morgan, who emigrated to Canada from Wales in 1893, and one of nine brothers and sisters (two of whom died at a very young age), Evan Morgan spoke of his early childhood in Manitoba. "I was born in Treherne where my parents first settled," recalled Mr. Morgan, "and in 1901, at the age of four, we moved to a farm about twelve miles south of Swan River." One of his earliest memories, he said, is of travelling in 1901 with his parents to Portage La Prairie where they stopped briefly at a Dakota encampment. He still remembers a young Native boy who "came in carrying a couple of rabbits."

Evan Morgan worked on the family farm throughout his childhood and teen years. In the Fall of 1916, after the harvest had been completed and "with winter coming on and not much to keep me in Swan River", he and his younger brother Stanley (who was under age) enlisted in the army. They joined the 200th Battalion, and when it was disbanded a short time later Evan was transferred to the 107th, a pioneer battalion known as the `Timberwolves'. "Everywhere the battalion went we were accompanied by a pipe band", he recalled. Morgan and his fellow recruits left Winnipeg by rail in April of 1917, bound for Halifax where they embarked on a troop ship for England. Not knowing just what he was getting himself into, Morgan spent time during the Atlantic crossing on submarine watch and it was then, he said, that "I started to realize that I really was in a war!"

After training for a brief period in England, the 107th landed in France in June of 1917 as replacements for the Canadian casualties at Vimy Ridge. A short time later Morgan found himself at Passchendaele where the Timberwolves were employed constructing roads over the mud. "Our main job", he said, "was to keep the roads open so that they could bring in supplies and artillery during the Battle of Passchendaele. …

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