Morgan Memorial – Grave Site of the Morgan Plant Unidentified Dead
It was in 1918, at 7:40pm nearly 95 years ago, when the first of a series of explosions spanning two days went off in building 6-1-1 of the T. A. Gillespie Shell Loading Plant in rural Morgan, NJ. Building 6-1-1, located within the area of land bordered by present day Dusko Drive, Rota Drive and Gillen Drive1, contained equipment which melted and poured Amatol, a Trinitrotoluol (TNT) based explosive, into 155mm artillery shells (155mm = 6.1 inches) for shipment to France for use in the “Great War” (which later became known as “World War I”).
The remains of those unfortunate souls, who were so badly disintegrated by the blasts, were buried in a mass grave in nearby ErnstMemorialCemetery. The task of trying to identify the unidentifiable and to witness & certify each burial fell to South Amboy resident Michael Nagel, who later became the Commander of American Legion Luke A. Lovely Post 62, after each partial body part was photographed per government mandate.
In 1929, eleven years after the blast, the South Amboy Lions Club erected the monument shown in the above 2009 photograph at the site of the 20’ x 35’ grave. The inscription reads: “In memory of the unidentified dead who gave their lives while in the service of the United States of America, at the Morgan Shell Loading Plant in the explosion of October 4 – 5, 1918.”
The grave and memorial are near the entrance of the Ernst Memorial Cemetery which is in the following location:
328 Ernston Road
40° 27′ 25″N, 74° 18′ 15″W (per Google Maps)
1-Building location as identified by US Army Corps of Engineers.
Originally posted on October 4, 2009, 91 years to the day after the explosions started.