Private Les Morgan
Unit : No.3 Platoon, 21st Independent Parachute Company
Army No. : 43050
The following was submitted by Sergeant Richy Clatworthy, 127 Field Company, REME, Army Reserves.
Les Morgan, fondly known as "Titch" or "Jockey", enlisted around 1941 and served as Despatch Rider in North Africa with the REME. Frustrated with this solo role in the harsh desert environment, he transferred to the Airborne Forces and applied to join the 21st Independent Parachute Company, who were based in North Africa at the time. Being short of stature, the commander, Major Wilson, was said to have been slightly wary as to whether Morgan could cope with his arduous training regime, but was encouraged to give him a chance when it transpired that he had been a professional jockey and had raced for Wilson's father. The tough and able Morgan duly completed his training and was posted to No.3 Platoon. On his return to the UK, he attended parachute course 106 at RAF Ringway, which ran from the 6th to 16th March 1944; his instructor said of him "Full of confidence, very cheerful, jumped well in stick descents."
Morgan participated in Operation Market Garden in September 1944, and having fought in Oosterbeek, withdrew across the Rhine with the 1st Airborne Division on the 25/26th September. In May 1945, he accompanied the Division to Norway to oversee the surrender of the German forces, where in his spare time there, he did race once more, making friends with a local lady with whom he kept in touch until he sadly passed away in April 2015. He subsequently accompanied the Independent Company to Palestine, which he described as the worst posting he had had. Morgan remained with the Company until it was disbanded in 1946.
Jockey returned to his former profession and kept in touch with his former comrades to the best of his abilities, and was a keen member of the Liverpool PRA. But sadly age got the better of him in his later years. He would often visit the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Recruiting Sergeants based in the Army Careers Office, Liverpool and join them for a pint and a story. But he always kept in touch with the 21st Independent Parachute Company Association and was always pleased to receive their wonderful Newsletters and updates about his former comrades, which he was always keen to show to any visitors and friends.
Very sadly missed still, Jockey received a proud send off at his cremation with a hundred or so family or friends and many former Veterans including a very fine group of 4 PARA soldiers in full uniform. Jockey's ashes are now interred in the Oosterbeek Military Cemetery, immediately behind the headstone of a former 21st IPC soldier, Private J.P. Avallone, in a plot reserved for the Ashes of other IPC comrades.
Finally, Jockey is mentioned and photographed in Peter Gijbel's excellent book "Leading The Way To Arnhem", which is a very detailed history of the 21st.
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