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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In October 1915 Geoffrey Howard Smith was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion from being a member of the ranks of the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.). At that time he was probably based at the O.T.C. training camp at Berkhamsted Common Hertfordshire. In August 1916 he is listed as wounded in France. He recovers from his wounds but in June 1918 he is listed as missing then confirmed as a prisoner of war in September 1918. Smith remained in captivity until his release and return to England in January 1919. This event is recognised by a letter sent to him from King George V.
Edward was the Great Uncle of Robert Raw and Margaret Hird, who visited the museum during one of our Ribbon of Remembrance drop-in days. Edward, born in Richmond (he lived for at time along Frenchgate and then at 3 Maison Dieu) worked as a plumber for the North Eastern Railway, and enlisted after the outbreak of war in York. He became a Private in the 17th (Service) Battalion (NER Pioneers), a group whose skills were vital in constructing and maintaining the railways that developed behind the lines which kept the troops equiped and fed for the duration of the war. Edward was killed on 2nd November 1917, during the period where the battalion were working on light railways in the Ypres sector and suffered from shrapnel and gas shelling as well as high-explosives. Edward Barker is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Belgium.
Molly Copland visited the Green Howards Museum to tell us about her uncle Arthur Edward Arnett. Arthur Arnett was born in Wakefield on 3rd July 1896 and was educated at Sanda Elementary School and Leeds Central High School before working as a Junior Clerk at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment on 17th February 1916, serving with the British Expeditionary Force from 28th June. Following a transfer to the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment Arthur was wounded at the Somme around 11th September 1916. He spent five weeks in hospital before being sent back to England, eventually returning to France with the 6th Yorks and Lancs on 18th March 1917. After transferring to the 10th Battalion following losses at the Battle of Loos, Arthur was killed in action at Gheluvelt on 28th September 1917 and is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery in Belgium.