Hugh Morkill

Medals awarded

  • British War Medal 1914-20
  • Victory Medal 1914-19
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Defence Medal 1939-45

Hugh Bernard Morkill (left) was born in 1896. After college he enrolled at Sandhurst and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in December 1915, joining the Yorkshire Regiment on 22 December.

In 1916 he was in India with the 1st Battalion. However, becoming restless with the relative inactivity, he joined the Royal Flying Corps.  He finally saw action against the Turks in September 1918 after a lengthy period serving as a flight instructor. Apparently, a pet ring-tailed lemur called Jimmy often accompanied Hugh on his flights.

In later life, Morkill claimed his belief in God was confirmed because of a flying incident in Palestine. He had been on a patrol and was returning to base when thick cloud cut all visibility. ‘Bobby’ 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. 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.

In 1922 Morkill returned to the Yorkshire Regiment, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1940. He died in May 1991.  As well as his medals, the museum collection includes a fascinating audio interview with Morkill as well as his personal archive of letters, notebooks and sketches.