Ken on 100th Birthday

Kenneth Frank Morrill 100 years old
Lancashire Fusiliers

and his twin brother
Jack Eric Morrill
96 years old
Lancashire Fusiliers

Jack Morrill

Kenneth Frank Morrill

Ken with Spike Macey with his present from the LF's
Although I cannot be here today in person, I am present in mind and spirit as are all the family here in the UK, Ian, Gail, Jude and Steph.

Ken had an extraordinary life both in time and achievement so whilst this is a sad occasion let's celebrate his life that was also full of adventure.

He was born in Balham, South West London in the UK and was part of a large family with Jack (his twin) and elder siblings Harold, Doris and Vera.

As a teenager he was very athletic also active in the local Scout Group and became an accomplished competitive swimmer. However, at the first opportunity he joined the Honourable Artillery Company as a Cadet, a proud association that remained with him for his entire life. Here he discovered his love of horses and even at this age he honed fine equestrian skills that he would return to later in life.

During World War 2 in the Lancashire Fusiliers he was involved in some of the bloodiest campaigns of the conflict including Operation Torch in North Africa and Monte Casino in Italy. He and Jack whilst being part of the same Regiment they were in separate Battalions but as twins were subjected to continual observations by army psychologists. They both found this rather annoying as, as they said it detracted from the job in hand.

After the war Ken remained in the army. He became acquainted with Harry Llewellyn, himself a fine horseman, later to become Colonel Sir Harry. It was Ken who, on recognising the qualities of a horse named Foxhunter, was responsible for bringing the two of them together. Harry and Foxhunter went on to win 78 international equestrian competitions including a gold medal in the 1952 summer Olympics.

When Ken left the army, his next adventure began and he travelled to Western Australia via Malaysia. When he arrived in WA he found work on a sheep station and continuing his horsemanship he worked as a Boundary Rider. He was immensely popular both on his station and those surrounding. For health reasons he had to leave that work and the news spread via radio messages to surrounding stations. Ken was amazed and touched as people from all over began to arrive at the station to give him a huge farewell party.

Ken settled in Perth where he met and married his beloved wife Elaine and he established his successful Real Estate business.

They both loved to travel and over the years would make extensive visits to the Far East and Europe. They had a great fondest for Italy and opera and would make the point of going to La Scala in Milan for performances. Very early on they became fans of Pavarotti.

Let's pause for a moment for a short rendition . . . .

Cue Pavarotti Playing now Nessun dorma!

Another passion of Ken's was cookery. During one of their visits to London he completed a course at the famous Cordon Bleu Culinary School. His final assignment was to make a chocolate torte but unfortunately on his way home he tripped and the torte went flying so we never got to sample his efforts !

During the 1970s and early 80s I had several enjoyable and memorable holidays with Ken and Elaine on Rottnest. On one occasion a friend of Ken's came over in his small boat and early one morning Ken and I went out sea fishing with him.
It wasn't long before the gin and tonics were being poured and we spent several hours happily bobbing around on the ocean. I never knew whether it was the result of the gin or something else but we only caught one little tiddler of a fish.

On returning to land we presented our "catch" to Elaine who was not best pleased as we hadn't provided anything for lunch despite our endeavours. The three of us being quite "merry" might also have accounted for her displeasure !

In 2010 my cousin Gail and her husband were on a tour of New Zealand and Australia and visited Ken. On their return to London they reported they had had a wonderful time with him though they were not a little concerned when Ken insisted that he should drive them to a restaurant for lunch. Due to frailty it took a while for Ken to get in to his car but once behind the wheel his driving was immaculate.

Throughout his life he always showed great interest in the wellbeing and progress of family members and that of his friends in Perth and their families. Whilst remaining fiercely patriotic to his birth place he loved Australia and Perth in particular. We know much he loved the weather to !

We will all have different memories of Ken, they may fade a little with time but they will always be will us.

Either by ourselves or with friends let us later raise a glass to Ken for those memories and the love and friendship that he gave. A true gentleman !

John Morrill (nephew of Kenneth)
At 100 years old Ken was our oldest Lancashire Fusilier

Jack Eric Morrill
Jack, Dad, Pa, Uncle Jack as he was known to us, had a long life. . .
It was indeed very long life that was full of events and memories and I would like to take you on a condensed journey that I hope will also spark off other memories that you may have of him. It is a sad day but we do not believe Dad would want it to be a solemn one, so please feel free to chuckle, smile, laugh or clap as we move along.

During his 96 years he passed through 19 Prime Ministers, 4 Monarchs and countless World events.

He was a mere baby in the Great War but a distinguished Army Officer in World War 2 with the Lancashire Fusiliers and was involved in some of the bloodiest campaigns that occurred.

I do remember when I was much younger, him telling me, very proudly, how he introduced ferrets to Tunisia. He was involved in the North African landings and he happened to have a pair of ferrets with him that he had brought from the UK. As one does when going to war! Sometime after the landings the ferrets escaped and he felt sure they bred happily ever after.

Then when he was chasing the Germans through Italy, they liberated a hidden stache of Asti Spumanti from a vineyard which gave them extended respite from the job in hand.

Much later in my life he would sometimes talk in some detail about campaigns such as Monte Casino which told the full brunt of what he had experienced.

He would attend the annual reunion dinner of the Battleaxe Division of which he was so proud and revisited the battle grounds of North Africa.

I can't place a year on it but he, along with other veterans, were invited by the Army to witness modern day training on Salisbury Plane. He said it was quite surreal as they were treated like royalty and given a full blown outdoor luncheon on a high point with the regimental Colonel whilst watching tanks, soldiers and helicopters race through their manoeuvres.

He was also involved in the writings of a book on the Battles of Monte Casino. He never lost sight of his army life, hence so befitting we honour him with the Union Flag.
Moving to a different chapter, as young children Jude, Steph and I had to endure the Sunday morning "cold wet flannel treatment" to get us out of our beds to go swimming. A treatment not best favoured by any of us.

And during those infant years we had to obey the house rule of "eating something of everything" that was given to us on our plates. Non compliance was not allowed and to this day I can recall the tears and tantrums from his dear children as we tried to avoid our hated vegetable.

I suppose on the upside, Jude, Steph and I can all swim and there is little that we won't eat!

The family homestead was simply known by everyone as 67. As a youngster I remember Mum protesting on the doorstep with two delivery men from Harrods as they tried to deliver a huge rectangular box saying it must be a mistake.

It was not and contained a stereo record player with radio and was built into wooden cabinet, state of the art at the time (a far cry from IPods now!).

Dad would listen for hours to his beloved Vera Lynn and Maria Callas records perhaps not so much appreciated at that time by ourselves! We have heard from Vera Lynn and we thought it would have been very unfair not to hear the voice of Maria Callas.

MARIA CALLAS - O MIO BABBINO CARO follows Pavarotti song

One of Dad's passions was rowing, a sport that came to him quite late in life. I was in my School Boat Club and he was Chair of the Supporters Club. They decided it would be rather good fun to have a fathers versus sons race at the annual summer fete.

This was fine apart from one minor detail . . . none of them could actually row! It was put upon myself and a couple of school chums to take on this task. I was in my late mid teens so was far more used to him telling me what to do rather than the other way round. It was all very strange.

It took quite a long time to get them to a level where they could race BUT they all got hooked on the sport.
Over the next several years they re-established Dacre Boat Club and built a new Club House next to the school boat club. Dad competed in numerous regattas, Head of the River races and even the Boston Marathon which is 31 miles long on the river and canal between Lincoln and Boston.

Dad was a dab hand with his hands and took on all the decorating at 67, rewired the entire house and spent quite literally months painstakingly removing layers of paint with scalpels from the intricate cornice work on the ceiling of the drawing room, restoring its original features.
Then there was his upholstery and he restored or made from new, arm chairs and settees. In restoration he take the old horse hair stuffing, pack it in pillow cases and take to the launderette to be washed, until he was banned when a pillow case burst open in a machine.

67 was a social hub for a network of family and friends. There were parties, family celebrations, dinner parties and they were always large occasions.

Perhaps a moment to recall the Boxing Day gathering of family and friends. Every room would be full and Dad would be in the kitchen slicing the cold turkey and roast beef along with an ox tongue and whole ham that he had prepared.

Games would be played, skittles, the horse racing game and the infamous flower game that Dad would put together with Mum's McDougall self-raising. This was a huge Morrill tradition and not restricted to just playing on Boxing Day, as many here will bear witness.

Then there were the 67 Sunday Lunches a tradition so strong that I'm sure if World War Three had broken out on Saturday night, the Morrill's would have lunch on Sunday. Here, family and friends would gather from 12o/c around the kitchen table in the scullery for drinks and nibbles.

A flexible time later we would move to the Dining Room where Dad, at the head of the table would carve the joint of beef or pork or leg of lamb. The post Lunch format changed with eras but could include playing "shut the box" followed by tea with cakes Mum had baked, followed by supper. Rarely did we leave the table till early evening or later.

When Dad retired he joined the "Curry Club" and learnt how to cook authentic Indian cuisine. "67 Curry Nights" were born. This was not a matter of knocking up a chicken korma and rice. He would be in the kitchen all day chopping, peeling, stirring and producing a veritable Indian feast for family and friends to dine on.

Even those who actually really did not like curry would ask him when the next one would be.
Sometime after 67 was sold and he was living in Chertsey, he phoned me and asked me to come down as he had something to tell me. I had no idea what and in his lounge, just the two of us, he said nervously "I'm getting married".
I replied very clumsily "that's fantastic Dad but to whom"

Dorothy appeared, we had a group hug and went out for Lunch.

Finally, we will all have our own memories of Jack, Dad, Pa, Uncle Jack. They may fade but they will never go.

John Morrill
(son of Jack)