Skip to content
John Emlyn Morgan & Stephen Mason McKenzie
Embedded with any saga as complex as the one we are telling here is always a one-off kind of story that makes one scratch his head. John Morgan is the one in this story.
The US NAVY records kept by HOUSTON survivors provide us with the barest of details but they are enough to relate the basic story. It is not clear how he came to be on Java, but apparently he had traveled to Singapore with the Tharp group. He had also become attached to the US group because he told the Japanese that he was an American and a volunteer with the Eagle Squadron.
It is not clear, however, that the Eagle Squadron ever operated outside of Europe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Squadrons
Whatever the case, he was attached to the US POW group at the Bicycle Camp and then traveled to Singapore with them. It was there that his ruse was exposed: that he was actually a British subject. Upon leaving Singapore for Burma, he was left with the British Army contingent at Changi.
However, the Japanese insisted on ‘balancing’ the numbers and had the British exchange him for one of their own members: PVT Stephen McKenzie. For whatever reason, neither Morgan nor McKenzie appear on Tharp’s rosters. Things became even worse for McKenzie, in that he died in Burma and is thought to be the sole member of the Tharp party who remains buried in the Thanbyuzayat CWGC Cemetery!