University of Oxford
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Commando captured at Dieppe, escaped

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 20:02 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The father (and father-in-law) of contributors was Clifford Morgan. Clifford was a radio operator in the Army. Aged only 19 he participated in the raid on Dieppe with 30 Commando. He was taken prisoner, but escaped.

Cliff born in South Wakes in March 1923. His Dad got his legs broken in the mines, so he became a book keeper. And came to Liverpool when he, um, Cliff was four and still had a Welsh accent when he died in his 70s. Cliff might have joined the Liverpool Welsh regiment. He was quite good at boxing, very small and wiry.

Cliff got seconded into a new organization, the Commandos! They went to Scotland to train. When we took him skiing in the 1990s, he said it's the first time he's had skies on since wearing wooden planks on while practising in Scotland in 1940/1941. From Scotland they arrived at New Haven in the evening. And crossed the Channel and the 12 or so boats were all together but they were attacked by a German armoured trawler convoy. At dawn there were 3 boats left. The officer of 3 Commando carried on with the mission landing at the beach at xxxx Bernabels sur Mere 19 August 1942, 3 miles east of Dieppe. They neutralised their objective and returned to the beach with less than 20 men. They were pinned down on the beach. As radio operator Clifford had to move out of cover to make the set work, when he saw a bullet flying towards him. The bullet passed through his clothing missing his body, in his shock Cliff jumped back and almost ripped his ears off because the headset was still on. By 12 o'clock they knew they could not escape so the commandos threw away their equipment in the sea (kit like cheese wires etc.). So his war lasted 7 hours.

A Canadian author visited Clifford after the war, to record his memoirs of the Dieppe raid for the book 'St Nazaire To Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War 1941-1945' Cliff's memories are in the section about No.3 Commando at Dieppe: Yellow Beach 1 and 2: "Tragedy, Tribulation, and Triumph", "Clifford Morgan, Signaller, TM, No.3 Commando. Yellow Beach 1 and Stalag VIII B."

When they were captured, the commandos were treated reasonably well, transported on cattle trucks to Poland. As he was the smallest in the thinnest Cliff was fed out the window of the moving train. He made his way along the moving train to uncouple it from the engine. A lot of soldiers got out and ran away, but a senior NCO Cliff respected said, "We're staying here." Resignation on the part of the So, he did. Maybe 13 from 3 Commando were initially captured at Dieppe, at the end of the War there were 2 of whom survived the War. But the other commando was killed in a train accident whilst being repatriated.

Clifford was held at Stalag VIII B (8B) in Poland. This became known as Stalag 344, and on the cards Cliff sent to his Mum his number is 26473. The address is Mr and Mrs Morgan, 32 Truro Rd, Liverpool 15. The quarry Cliff worked in Austria or Czechoslovakia. Cliff and his friends distilled alcohol using an old railway engine, filtered through charcoal in their socks! He learned high German from the elderly guards, so he could speak with the locals when he visited Austria after the War but they were amazed by his vocabulary and accent.

In 1945 the prisoners of war seem to have been marched south by the Germans on the Long March also known as the Death March. Cliff said "You see guys sitting at the side of the road. The way you tell they were dead was snow was blowing into the corner of their eye." He escaped the forced march with 1-2 others. Hiding in a ban somewhere. Once the column had gone, they travelled south by the sun. They would go into each town, go to the mayor's house "We're English POWs, and we've lost our column. Can you feed us something and tell us which way our men went?" which worked until they knocked at one town's Mayor which was in use as the headquarters of the local SS.

On recapture, they worked in the kitchens of these SS for a month. Cliff actually got liberated in Prague. He came back to the UK, and to Wavertree to his Mum's (Sarah Morgan) house on the train, his brother (Trevor Morgan, RAF) met Cliff at Lime Street. Cliff met two sisters who Sarah had given birth to who he never knew he had. Clifford, Trevor, Doreen in the 1920s, and then the much younger daughters born during 1943 and 1944.

Sarah was doing cleaning work during the War and Clifford's Dad was a bookkeeper.

Clifford was a very good woodworker. Sculptor and carpenter whatever. He became a journeyman doing repairs. At one council school he met his wife, a teacher. Later he worked for a glazing company, then he taught carpentry to special needs adults. Cliff died in 1995 of asbestos poisoning. (At RAF Shawbury Cliff was making buildings out of asbestos for the officers' quarters using a machine saw. Then he worked for Bear Brand, Liverpool, where asbestos was used as a material to mop up spills and repair steam pipes.)

When he was 14, Cliff did a lot of carving. The example shown is 1937 and one of many political figures - this is one of Cliff's high-quality carvings - of Adolf Hitler which was kept in pride of place in his house. As well as many political figures, Cliff carved love spoons for every family wedding.


Item list and details

1. Letters and photos 2. Medals (not original, because those were stolen) 3. Wooden Hitler toy 4. Pg 91 and 92 of book - Clifford's story published

Person the story/items relate to

Clifford Morgan

Person who shared the story/items

Alison Knott and Graham Knott

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Dad, and father-in-law

Type of submission

Shared at Liverpool Central Library, Merseyside on 2 March 2024.

Record ID

118906 | LIV001