William Duthie Morgan

General Sir William Duthie Morgan GCB DSO MC (15 December 1891 – 13 May 1977) was a British Army officer active during the First World War. During the Second World War, he commanded the Mediterranean Theater of Operations during the late stage of the war.

Sir William Duthie Morgan
Sir William Duthie Morgan.jpg
Sir William Duthie Morgan
Born15 December 1891
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died13 May 1977 (aged 85)
London, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1913–1950
Service number8038
UnitRoyal Artillery
Commands held10th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division
Southern Command
Mediterranean Theater of Operations
Battles/warsFirst World War
Second World War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Mentioned in dispatches (5)[1]

Early life and military careerEdit

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Morgan, he was the son of Alexander Morgan[2] FRSE and his wife Isobel Duthie. The family initially lived at 63 Warrender Park Road in the Marchmont district then moved to 1 Midmar Gardens in the south-west.[3]

William was educated at George Watson's College[4] and entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the British Army's Royal Artillery in January 1913.[5] He served in the First World War, winning the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) at the Battle of Le Cateau in 1914 and later the Military Cross[6] and was mentioned in dispatches four times throughout the war.[1][4]

Between the warsEdit

During the interwar period his postings included active service in Waziristan and a period as a General Staff Officer Grade 3 (GSO3) at the War Office.[1] He attended the Staff College, Camberley from 1925 to 1926, where his fellow students included Ronald Scobie, Frank Messervy, Raymond Briggs, Eric Harrison, Henry Willcox, Francis Tuker, John Swayne and Ralph Deedes.[4] In 1929 he was appointed military attaché at the British Embassy in Budapest, Hungary where he remained until 1931.[4] In 1933 he was posted as a major to the 19th Field Brigade, Royal Artillery in Bordon[1] and in 1934 he became Chief Instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.[1][4]

Second World WarEdit

In the Second World War, Morgan (nicknamed "Monkey")[7] initially commanded the 10th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) before succeeding Richard McCreery as the General Staff Officer Grade 1 (GSO1) with the 1st Infantry Division in France.[1] Back in the United Kingdom he was appointed to the rank of temporary brigadier to be Brigadier General Staff (BGS) of I Corps.[1][6] Having had his permanent rank advanced to full colonel in May 1941 (with seniority back dated to 1939),[8] he was appointed acting major-general and appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC)[9] of the 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division in June. In October 1941 he was injured[1] and was forced to relinquish this appointment and revert to the rank of colonel on full pay.[10]

Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and Lieutenant-General William Morgan pose with Brigadier Ronald Senior and the staff of the 151st Infantry Brigade, which Senior was then commanding, 29 May 1944.

Returned to fitness, in September 1942 Morgan was appointed an acting lieutenant-general[11] to be Chief of the General Staff for Home Forces.[1][6] When British land forces were reorganised in July 1943 to create the 21st Army Group, commanded by General Sir Bernard Paget, for the planned Allied invasion of northwest Europe the following year, Morgan became Chief of Staff of the new army group.[1] His rank was upgraded to temporary lieutenant-general in September 1943[12] and he was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 1944 New Year's honours list.[13]

In February 1944, he was made General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) for Southern Command.[1] While still appointed a temporary lieutenant-general, Morgan's permanent rank was advanced to major-general in May 1944.[14] In March 1945[15] he became Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean Theatre, Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander. In May 1945, he accepted the surrender of all Axis forces on the Italian Front.[1][6] In September 1945 he was appointed Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for the Mediterranean Theatre and then in October succeeded Alexander as the Supreme Allied Commander.[1][6] Also in October he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.[16] The Morgan Line, which at one time demarcated the boundary between Italy and Yugoslavia, was named after him.[17]


In August 1946, after the war, Morgan's rank of lieutenant-general was made permanent (with seniority backdated to the end of 1944)[18] and in November 1946 was promoted to full general.[1][19]

In 1947 Morgan was made Commander of the British Army Staff in Washington, D.C.[1] and Army member of the British Joint Staff Mission to the United States.[6] In this capacity Morgan was offered access to the atomic bomb by General Dwight D. Eisenhower as an incentive to persuade Britain to give up its own programme.[20] His knighthood was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1949 New Year Honours[21] and he retired from the British Army in June 1950.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "World War II unit histories and officers". Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Morgan_Alexander biography". History.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  3. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1891 and 1905
  4. ^ a b c d e Smart, p. 226
  5. ^ "No. 28683". The London Gazette. 21 January 1913. p. 497.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  7. ^ Hamilton, Nigel (1983). Master of the Battlefield Monty's War Years 1942–1944. McGraw-Hill Book Company. pp. 528, 529.
  8. ^ "No. 35157". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 May 1941. p. 2648.
  9. ^ "No. 35192". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1941. p. 3440.
  10. ^ "No. 35337". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 November 1941. p. 6427.
  11. ^ "No. 35740". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 October 1942. p. 4431.
  12. ^ "No. 36186". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 September 1943. p. 4295.
  13. ^ "No. 36309". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1943. p. 4.
  14. ^ "No. 36519". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 May 1944. p. 2273.
  15. ^ Jackson, p. 196.
  16. ^ "No. 37310". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 October 1945. p. 5097.
  17. ^ White's Political Dictionary, 1947
  18. ^ "No. 37701". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 August 1946. p. 4295.
  19. ^ "No. 37796". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 November 1946. p. 5769.
  20. ^ Bomb offer exposed 6 December 1992
  21. ^ "No. 38493". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1948. p. 2.


  • Jackson, General Sir William & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO:1988]. Butler, Sir James (ed.). The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume VI: Victory in the Mediterranean, Part 3 – November 1944 to May 1945. History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-072-6.
  • Smart, Nick (2005). Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War. Barnesley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1844150496.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by GOC 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division
June – October 1941
Succeeded by
Preceded by GOC-in-C Southern Command
Succeeded by