Hugh Bernard (Bobby) Morkill
Hugh was born on the 1st October 1896 at Austhorpe Lodge, Whitkirk, Leeds. His father, John William Morkill, had married Hannah Shaw Hobson in Edinburgh in 1889 and they would have 4 children, Hugh being the third youngest.
Hugh, like his father, was educated at Radley College Oxford enrolling there in 1910. He was a keen sportsman, being part of the College cricket XI in 1915 and a member of the first ever Rugby XV in 1914. During 1915 he was a college prefect. After college he enrolled at Sandhurst and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in December 1915. On the 22nd December 1915 he joined the Yorkshire Regiment.
In 1916 he was in India with the 1st Battalion. However, becoming restless with the relative inactivity he joined the Royal Flying Corps. He was sent to the 20th Training Wing in Egypt completing his ground course in September 1917. He then completed his flying training and qualified as a pilot on the 13th October 1917. Hopes of active service were dashed when he was retained as an instructor. However, the 19th September 1918 would see his first air action against Turkish positions in Palestine. Apparently a pet ring-tailed lemur called Jimmy often accompanied Hugh on his flights!
In 1922 he returned to the Yorkshire Regiment, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1940. He died in May 1991.
Mike Senior, who knew Hugh Morkill in his later years recently visited the museum and recounted this tale. “I remember the Colonel (by which title he was universally and affectionately known in the village) telling me the following story:
He claimed that his belief in God was confirmed because of a flying incident when in Palestine. He had been on a patrol and was returning to his base when thick cloud cut out all visibility. In those days aeroplanes were not technically advanced and the pilot had to rely on eyesight. The Colonel was lost and had no idea where he was. He flew around for some time and eventually the fuel gauge showed empty. He said a fervent prayer asking for God’s help. The engine began to splutter and he prepared for a crash landing. Then suddenly a gap appeared in the mist and immediately below him was his landing strip. He just managed to get the aeroplane, and himself, down safely.”
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