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.”
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Vicki Walker of Little Crakehall called into the museum to show us a photograph of Duncan Harvie, her grandfather. The photo is a postcard addressed to ‘Mary and Sam’, sent on 3 April 1916 and shows a group of Signallers on board HMS Laconia. Duncan Harvie (5th South African Regiment) is sat at the front of the group with crossed legs. The ship’s log shows the Laconia (an armed merchant cruiser) to be anchored at Zanzibar on that date, on it’s way to British East Africa (now Kenya). The ship was used in the early part of the war to patrol the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, but in April 1915 her role changed and she was used as a headquarters ship to aid in the fight in German East Africa. Following her return to to Cunard, the Laconia was sunk by U-50 160 miles northwest of Fastnet while returning form the United States on 25th February 1917. Twelve people were killed following a double torpedo strike.
Information submitted by John Holdsworth. Edoardo Giovanoli was born in Samedan, Switzerland in April 1889, but by around 1907 he had moved to Filey in Yorkshire to work with a relative to learn the art of confectionery. Following the outbreak of the First World War, Edoardo decided to become a Naturalised British Citizen, which would allow him to fight for his adopted country. He joined the 5th Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment as 3072 Lance Corporal E Giovanoli in 1915. On 20th September Edoardo was wounded while in the trenches outside of Armentieres, receiving gunshot wounds to the left arm and the neck. After hospitalisation and convalescence (during which time he met his newly born daughter, Dorothy) Edoardo returned to the front in 1916, attaining the rank of Corporal some time after this. Having spent most of the war in Belgium and France, it seems that Edoardo may have been used as an interpreter during the latter part of the conflict on the Italian-Austrian Front. Following the war the family moved to Bradford, and Edoardo worked as a Master Baker for Clark’s High Class Confectioners on North Parade. He became ill in 1927 and was admitted to St Luke’s Hospital. He died on 13th August and his death certificate records that the war wounds sustained 12 years earlier were the cause of his death. …
Richard Oliver was 22 years old when he enlisted at Cramlington in September 1914. He was from Esh Winning, Crook, Co. Durham and was a miner. He enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers but was posted to the Yorkshire Regiment. He served in the 9th and 10th Battalions and whilst with the 10th Battalion in 1915 he was awarded the Military Medal. He served in France and Italy and became disabled due to the effects of gassing. He was discharged in March 1920 and was initially given a pension of 8 shillings a week, but this was subsequently withdrawn and his appeal rejected. He left the army as a Corporal, he served in France from 1915 to 1917 and on the Italian Front from November 1917 until December 1918.