|Date of Birth||April 6, 1886|
|Place of Birth||Abergavenny, Monmouthshire|
|Next of Kin||Emily Maud Morgan (wife), Gen. Del., Kenora; address later changed to Fort William.|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive Engineer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No. 13 Light Railway Operating Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Railway Troops|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||General Delivery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||March 12, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||31|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||June 18, 1962|
|Age at Death||76|
|Buried At||Mountain View Cemetery, Thunder Bay, Ontario|
Throughout the war railroads were essential for evacuating the wounded and moving troops, equipment and supplies, and skilled workers were needed for their construction, maintenance and operation. Sapper James George Morgan, a CPR employee from Kenora, Ontario, enlisted with a railway unit in March 1917 and served in France and Belgium for two years.
George was born on 6 April 1886 in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales. His father Lewis Morgan was from Herefordshire, England and his mother Sarah Ann Eaton was born in Glamorganshire, Wales. They were married in Glamorganshire in 1872 and they had at least six sons (Thomas, Samuel, Charles, James George, Matthew and Alfred) and three daughters (Hannah, Elizabeth and Alice May). At the time of the 1891 census Lewis was employed as a railway brakeman and in 1901 he was listed as a licensed victualler. He passed away in Abergavenny in 1909, at age 55.
George’s older brother Thomas immigrated to Canada around 1904 and settled in Fort William, Ontario. George joined him in March 1911, arriving on the SS Mauretania via New York, with his destination listed as his brother’s address in Fort William. Two months later when the 1911 census was taken George was working as a railroad fireman and living at Lake Superior Junction, which was near the town of Graham (now called Sioux Lookout) in northwestern Ontario. From there he moved west to Kenora where he worked as a fireman for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In the summer of 1916 George travelled from Kenora to Ottawa to get married. His wife, Emily Maud Maidment, arrived in Quebec from Liverpool on 19 August and they were married in Ottawa two days later. Maud was born in Abergavenny, Wales, like George, and her parents were William Maidment and Elizabeth Jay. Before coming to Canada she had been living in London, England.
The war had just entered its third year when George got married and he enlisted the following spring, signing up in Winnipeg on 12 March 1917. Several new railway units were being raised in Canada and George joined No. 2 Section Skilled Railway Employees. He was one of nine men from the Kenora area who enlisted with No. 2 Section. When they left town on 16 March a large crowd gathered at the Kenora train station to wish them well and see them on their way. A month later the men embarked from Halifax on the SS Grampian and in England their unit was renamed No. 13 Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers. After a few weeks of training the company was sent to France, arriving at Le Havre on 10 June 1917. That fall they were renamed again, becoming No. 13 Canadian Light Railway Operating Company.
Between June and November 1917 the Allied armies took part in several major battles, including Hill 70 and Passchendaele. In October George became ill with pneumonia and he was admitted to No. 11 (Harvard USA) General Hospital in Camiers. After recovering he spent several weeks at convalescent centres then at the Canadian Base Depot and it was early December before he rejoined his unit. Over the winter and spring the Canadians were holding a long section of the front line near Lens in France, and the big German offensive began in March. Railways were vital for moving troops, equipment and supplies as well as evacuating the wounded.
In August 1918 George had 14 days leave in the UK and he was back in France at the end of the month for the final period of the war. The Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November and he returned to England with his unit in February 1919. He was attached to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot for a few weeks before embarking for Canada on the SS Saturnia in late March. He arrived in St. John, New Brunswick on 10 April and was officially discharged on 13 April in Port Arthur.
While George was overseas his wife stayed in Fort William for a short time then moved to Ottawa. When he returned they made their home in Fort William where his brother Samuel was also living. George and Maud had one son, William George Eaton, born on 1 June 1922. Eaton joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War and served as a bomb aimer with the rank of Flight Sergeant. He was killed in action during a mission over Germany on 29 December 1944, at age 22. He is buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in northwestern Germany.
George had a long career with the Canadian Pacific Railway, retiring in April 1951 after 39 years of service. In May that year he and his wife made a trip back to the UK and they returned home in August. George was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen and a life member of the Fort William branch of the Canadian Legion. He sang in a choir for many years and belonged to the Men’s Club of St. Paul’s. He passed away in Fort William on 18 June 1962, at age 76, and he’s buried in Mountain View Cemetery. Emily Maud died in 1963.
By Becky Johnson
Photos courtesy of Morgan family tree on ancestry.ca.