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Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Edgeworth Morgan, KCB, (5 February 1894, Paddock Woodmarker, Kentmarker, Englandmarker - 19 March 1967, Northwoodmarker, Middlesexmarker), was a British army officer in the Second World War. He is best known as the original planner of Operation Overlord.


Career

Morgan was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1913 and fought in France and Belgium throughout World War I.

Morgan served in Francemarker in 1940 as a brigadier commanding the Support Group of the British 1st Armoured Division. When the unit was shipped to France in May 1940 it had already been stripped of its two artillery field regiments and two infantry battalions. With only a territorial infantry battalion and engineer units his group was in no position to fulfill its normal role supporting the division's armoured brigades and so was allocated a second infantry battalion and sent to reinforce 51st Division south of the river Somme. During a confused retreat most of the Support Group was captured with the 51st Division but the remainder including Morgan got away and were evacuated.

In November 1940 he was appointed Brigadier General Staff at II Corps in the UK. Promoted to major-general he commanded successively the Devon and Cornwall County Division (a static formation created for coastal defence) and 55th Infantry Division (a second line territorial formation) between February 1941 and May 1942.

In May 1942 he was appointed in the rank of lieutenant-general to command the 1st Corps District, which included Lincolnshiremarker and the East Riding of Yorkshire. In October of that year his headquarters became a mobile formation, was re designated I Corps and placed under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was given the task of preparing a subsidiary landing in the western Mediterraneanmarker either to reinforce the initial landings or to deal with a Germanmarker thrust through Spainmarker. When neither operation proved necessary, he was directed to plan the invasion of Sardinia. In time this was abandoned and he was directed to plan the invasion of Sicily. This project was later given to the armies in North Africa.

In the spring of 1943 he became Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (Designate) (COSSAC)—who had yet to be appointed—and as such directed planning for the invasion of northwest Europe. When Eisenhower was appointed supreme commander the COSSAC team was absorbed into SHAEF. Walter Bedell Smith became Eisenhower's Chief of Staff and Morgan one of three deputies. His responsibilities covered Intelligence and Operations and he deputised for Bedell Smith when he was absent. Morgan's plans had been proscribed by limited landing craft availability. When Montgomery was appointed C-in-C Land Forces for the invasion he declared the invasion plan unworkable and that it required more men and a wider front. With the political support of Eisenhower, more landing craft were obtained and the invasion scaled up to Montgomery's satisfaction.

Morgan served in this role until the German surrender in May 1945 and was awarded the Legion of Merit in April 1945 for his services.

In 1943 and 1944, planning the invasion, Morgan worked in a room over a shop in the West End of London. With a military assistant he often went into a Marylebone hotel, where he started debates among the customers about sending an attack across the Channel. He wanted to know what the ordinary civilian was thinking. He said, "Sound opinion is not the exclusive prerogative of those who are paid to give it."

During the invasion, the Free French forces requested that a French division lead the liberation of Paris. Allied High Command agreed on the condition that the division did not contain any black soldiers. Ordered by Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, Bedell Smith, to carry this out, Morgan wrote "It is unfortunate that the only French formation that is 100% white is an armoured division in Morocco." Further, "Every other French division is only about 40% white. I have told Colonel de Chevene that his chances of getting what he wants will be vastly improved if he can produce a white infantry division." The consequence was that these units and men of color who served in them were excluded from liberation parades and celebrations in Paris.

After the war Morgan served as the Chief of Operations for UNRRA in Germany, but was fired after repeatedly making accusations against Jewish displaced persons that were broadly interpreted as offensive.

He retired from the British Army in December 1946.

Retirement

After retiring from the army, Morgan worked in the public sector as Controller, Atomic Energy from 1951 to 1954.

In his autobiography, "The Moon's A Balloon", Academy award winning actor, David Niven credits Morgan as the man who promoted him to lieutenant-colonel and assigned him as a liaison officer with the American Army after serving in a British motor reconnaissance company.

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