Skip to main content

CMOS Founding Member Dick Morgan Turns 100

– By David Nowell, Elizabeth Marshall and Veronica Leonard –

A member of CMOS and its predecessor, the Canadian Branch of the Royal Meteorological Society, for over 50 years, CDR/Dr Maurice Richard (Dick) Morgan recently celebrated his 100th birthday. A party to honour the occasion was held the following day at the home of his eldest daughter Liz Marshall in Belleville, Ontario.

Dick Morgan was born on 14 July 1917 at Saltash, Cornwall in the United Kingdom. Following university graduation he was commissioned in the Royal Navy as an Instructor Lieutenant shortly before the start of World War II. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbour, he was serving in the cruiser HMS Diomede which was then assigned to the West Indies Squadron and operating in the eastern Pacific.

After the war, he qualified as a Royal Navy meteorologist. Subsequent appointments included a 1946-49 posting to the Naval Weather Service Centre in Simonstown, South Africa where he helped organize the whaling fleet in taking weather observations when operating in data sparse areas of the Antarctic. On his return to the UK, he worked for three years on the staff of the Naval Weather Service in London. This was followed by a three year posting as Assistant Director of Meteorology in the newly established NATO SACLANT Headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia with the rank of Commander. He returned to the UK in 1956 and was posted as Officer-in-Charge of the Weather Office at the Abbotsinch Naval Air Station in Scotland.

Dick took early retirement from the Royal Navy and immigrated to Canada on 1 July 1958 to take up an appointment as meteorologist with the Meteorological Branch of the Department of Transport. Following a brief period of indoctrination at the then Central Analysis Office in Dorval, he was posted to the Main Meteorological Office in Gander, Nfld. A year later he was seconded to the Royal Canadian Navy for a 5-year Short Service Commission (SSA). After a short appointment as Weather Officer in the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure, he was appointed as Command Weather Officer to the Flag Officer Atlantic Coast in Halifax. In this position he made a major contribution in the rapidly developing field of military oceanography. This resulted in an extension of his SSA and a 4-year posting, again in the rank of Commander, to the newly established position of Assistant Director of Oceanography at SACLANT Headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

3 photos. First shows Dick Morgan (elderly caucasian male, clean shaven) with another caucasian male in his late 50's. Second photo is Dick Morgan in his 80's in his doctoral conferring gear holding on to his certificate. Third photo is Dick just after his 100th birthday with a couple in their 60's or 70's, sitting in lawn chairs in the sunshine.

He returned to Canada in May 1969 and, following his release from the RCN, was appointed Officer-in-Charge of the Maritime Forces Weather Centre in Halifax. There he very ably directed the Centre as it took on additional oceanographic responsibilities and became known as the METOC Centre. In the summer of 1974, he was posted to National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on the staff of the Director of Meteorology and Oceanography as Superintendent of Meteorological and Oceanographic Plans, Requirements and Training. During this posting, he was the Canadian Member of both the NATO Military Committee Meteorological Group and the NATO Group on Military Oceanography.

Dick retired from the Atmospheric Environment Service of Environment Canada in late 1977. He then accepted employment under contract with the UNDP to work with the ASEAN Planning Group in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as an advisor in marine meteorology to South East Asian nations, helping to set up a ring of meteorological stations around the South China Sea, including Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

At the age of 80, he enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Exeter, his Alma Mater. His thesis on “Climate Change in the North Atlantic Relative to the Global Warming Hypothesis” was accepted in 2003 making him the oldest doctoral graduate at the university, a fitting climax to a long, exciting and quite remarkable career. Following the award of his PhD he continued his research work until the early 90s and presented several research papers at CMOS congresses.

During the course of his career Dick was the recipient of several awards including the Royal Navy’s Boyle-Somerville Prize in Meteorology and the CMOS Prize in Applied Oceanography in 1983.

Written by David Nowell (friend and colleague) and Elizabeth Marshall and Veronica Leonard (Dick’s daughters)

Boyle-Somerville Prize, centenarian, Dick Morgan, military oceanography

For previous issues go to the Archives page on the main CMOS site.