Glasgow (602) Spitfire pilot who became footballer for Dundee FC and Fulham

Born: April 18, 1921;

Died: August 14, 2017

WARRANT Officer Andrew Morgan, who has died aged 96, was a Spitfire pilot with 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron who took part in the operations to attack targets in Europe as a prelude to the D-Day Landings. The missions, combined with Bomber escort duties to France, were designed to minimise the enemy resistance to the eventual invasion of Normandy. He later had a career as a footballer, playing for Dundee, Chelsea and Fulham.

Andrew Hargreaves Morgan was born in Freuchie, Fife, the youngest of 12 children. He attended Freuchie Primary and completed his education in Auchtermuchty. He worked as an errand boy in the village chemist before being attracted by the lure of the linoleum works.

His dream, however, was to be a pilot and at 18 years he joined the Royal Air Force. After examinations in London he was sent for training in Florida. On graduating he initially towed gliders until he was posted to an operational training unit on Spitfires before being posted to 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, a leading unit from the Battle of Britain. In celebration, he did a low, unauthorised run over Freuchie and frightened the milkman’s horse.

When Andrew Morgan joined it in 1943, 602 Squadron was operating from Kingsnorth in Kent commanded by Sqn Ldr RA "Max" Sutherland. The early tasks for Sergeant Andrew Morgan’s section was to escort bombers to targets in France. A typical operation called for escorting 21 Marauder Bombers of the US Army Air Corps to protect them from the attacking enemy fighters, thus allowing them to bomb on target.

Similar operations continued when the squadron moved to Newchurch in Kent. These were combined with fighter sweeps looking for "opportunity targets" to harass the enemy.

The squadron then moved to RAF Detling in November. As Christmas approached, in a sweep in the Cambria area, they were ‘bounced’ by 40 FW190 German aircraft. A Spitfire was seen to be hit emitting smoke and was spinning earthwards from 18,000ft. It was identified as being Andrew Morgan in Spitfire MK492. He was listed as ‘Failed to Return".

Flight Sergeant Morgan was taken prisoner and after interrogation was held in Stalag IVB. This was the main camp in Germany east of the Elbe River. He suffered the usual privations of a prisoner of war.

In one of the so-called "medical trials" he was left naked in the freezing climate to test his endurance. Fortunately, he survived. He did succeed in obtaining parts of a camera, a very dangerous activity and captured photographs of the living conditions of the prisoners.

He thought that his release had come in 1945 by the advancing Red Army but this was an illusion. The prisoners were held by the Russians as hostage for the Cossacks who had fought alongside the Germans.

On return to UK, he was promoted to Warrant Officer. On leaving the Royal Air Force he returned to Freuchie and the linoleum factory.

He was always a sportsman and played cricket for the famous Freuchie Village XI and had a nine handicap at Ladybank Golf Club. He also performed with Kingskettle Brass Band until they discovered he could not read music! He did, however, turn to Freuchie Village Theatre Company before following his real love and signing for Dundee Football Club.

Promotion at work saw him move to London in the sales office. He was pursued by Chelsea FC but decided on Fulham. He achieved fame as a striker but felt, in his own words, his career was eventually sabotaged by his experience in the POW camp as he could not stop eating and taking the ‘odd’ drink. He moved down the leagues eventually coming to Guildford City and his eventual retirement from the game.

He married Nita, a teacher, in 1950 and settled down to married life in Guildford. In 2001 he sadly lost his sight, a terrible affliction to one who loved flying. Despite this handicap he still continued with his daily keep-fit exercises and maintained his physical fitness.

He became involved with the Blind Veterans Association and indeed was invited to their centenary celebration at Buckingham Palace hosted by The Countess of Wessex.

His wife, Nita, died in 2016 and he therefore appreciated the help of the SSAFA team in Guildford.

He is survived by two daughters, Isabelle and Jane, and four grandchildren.

His funeral at All Saints, Guildford, was attended by Sqn Ldr Archie McCallum, Officer Commanding, 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force.