2nd Lt. George Alfred Morse

Hori George Alfred Morse


1897 Mar 2. Born Wanganui , New Zealand. Son of George Francis and Isabella Maud Morse. His father was a stud farmer

He is the same man as Hori George Alfred Morse "The Canterbury (N.Z.) Aviation Co. Ltd. The First Hundred Pilots" no82. Morse, H.G.A. Wanganui May 19, 1918 (Hori George Alfred Morse). Hori George Alfred Morse stood trial for murder in 1924.

1904 At the age of seven Hori Morse joined the Wanganui Preparatory School

1910 Six years later commenced his education at Wanganui College.

1914, when, although not yet 17 years of age, he left with three other companions and offered himself for active service. His comrades afterwards met death in France. Morse was first rejected on account of his youth, but persisted and gained admittance to a flying school at Christchurch, for which he paid 100 pounds. An accident in the air nearly brought death, and for ten months he lay on his back in the Christchurch Hospital. Recovery, however, ultimately came, and again he joined up.

1917 Jul 31 When he attested he claimed to be a student in Naval Architecture

1918 May 8. Enlists in Christchurch, New Zealand

1918 May 19 obtains Pilot's Licence in New Zealand

 1918 Jun 13. Morse embarked for the UK on the Athenic.

1918 Aug 31 Enlisted in RAF

RAF Record OR

RAF Record Officer

1919 Feb 15 Overseas Cadets granted temp commissions as 2nd Lt in RAF - 182600 G A Morse. Note commission is to 182600 as is the service record below, and that place and date of birth are the same as for Hori. NZ Service Records only show one man George Alfred Morse. He did not serve outside of the UK.


1919 Jul 8 Demobilised . Then he began the study of engineering at the London University and for two years he stuck to his self-imposed task. His reason for discontinuing his engineering course is obscure. All he told his friends was that "Prospects were not too bright."

1920 Nov 1 Joined ADRIC with service no 943. Posted to H Coy

Fined £2 by Coy Commander

1922 Jan 13. Discharged on demobilisation of ADRIC

1922 May 4. Leaves UK for Australia. When Morse was stationed in Tralee he took up with a Mrs Hilda Hunter, a married woman with an apparently abusive husband. When the ADRIC was disbanded they left Ireland together and may their way to Sydney via Cape Town. The relationship soured in Sydney and she left him and sailed to Adelaide. He followed her by train and on the 24/2/1924 he met her at the docks. They argued and he shot her with his service revolver. He then tried to kill himself but only managed to wound himself in the chest. After recovery he was tried and convicted of her murder and was sentenced to hang on 6/7/1924. However, a public petition secured him a life sentence instead. After serving 10 years at Yatala Prison he returned to New Zealand.

1924 Mar 24. Tried for murder. A long article here

NZ Truth, 5 July 1924

New Zealander In Death Cell

Was The Shot Accidental?

Former Wanganui Boy Condemned For Shooting His Ex-Paramour Hori's Many-Colored Career —Loyalty Of Friends Under Shadow Of Gallows

There is sadness in the spectacle of a young man of 27 years going to the gallows for shooting a woman whom he had won from her husband, only to lose again. Still more melancholy does the tragedy appear when a doubt arises as to whether the fatal shot was fired in a spasm of jealousy, or merely accidentally. And the whole sad affair comes nearer home when one knows that this young man, thrown into the condemned cell at Adelaide, is a Wanganui boy with a Flying Corps record, and one of those rare personalities who seems to be able to win the devoted loyalty of all around them except — the coveted woman!

Born at Wanganui twenty-seven years ago, Hori George Arthur Morse left college at the age of seventeen, and straight away joined up with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He rendered service as a lieutenant in the Flying Corps until the time of the Armistice, when he entered an English University in order to improve his knowledge of engineering. He had every prospect of a most brilliant career; but Fate decreed otherwise, and, as the indirect result of a holiday spent in Wales and the attachment he formed with a married woman while there, Morse now occupies the condemned cell in the Adelaide Gaol.

It is possible, that even as this paper reaches the reader, the death penalty will be exacted, and Morse will be in a murderer's grave, thousands of miles away from his home and friends.


Although Morse was found guilty by a jury of having, at Adelaide, on February 24 last, murdered Hilda Emily Hunter by shooting her with a revolver, the story of his life reads more like a novel than a chapter from real life. And, considering all circumstances of the story, it is little wonder that thousands of South Australians signed a petition praying for a commutation of the extreme sentence passed upon the dare-devil young New Zealander.

The story of Morse's crime really dates from August, 1921, when, in company with a friend, he went to a seaside resort in Wales to spend his holidays. Soon after his arrival there he met on the pier a pretty and fascinating young woman, to whom he obtained an introduction, and with whom he soon became friendly. According to the statement he made at his trial, the friendship ripened into affection, and for nearly three weeks Morse and the lady, who ' proved to be a Mrs. Hunter, spent most of the time in each other's company.

Mrs. Hunter told Morse how her husband ill-treated her and made her life unbearable, the result being that she and Morse agreed to live as man and wife, both swearing on the Bible a solemn oath to be true to each other. After living in England for a while, Mrs. Hunter and Morse left for Australia, via South Africa. At Cape town a change of boats was made, the woman sailing by one vessel and Morse, who left by another boat ten days later, meeting her in Sydney by arrangement.

Morse went into the back blocks on a shearing job, Mrs. Hunter accompanying him and living with him in a tent. Later, they lived together in various parts of Sydney and were quite happy until an occasion when a quarrel arose because Morse was dissatisfied with the woman's account of a late home-coming. Mrs. Hunter left the home, but a reconciliation was effected, and again Morse questioned her fidelity. She then left, saying she was going to Tasmania, but Morse made inquiries and found that she had sailed by the b.s. Medic for South Africa.

He took train to Adelaide with the idea of persuading her to return to him. At Adelaide he caught up with the Medic, and, going aboard, found Mrs. Hunter with a group of other passengers. She did not receive him too warmly, but, at his request, accompanied him on to the wharf, where, at the end of one of the goods sheds, he shot her dead with a revolver which he afterwards turned upon himself.

Morse's account of the shooting was that he always carried his revolver, which, while he was showing it to Mrs. Hunter, went off accidentally.

TURNED REVOLVER ON HIMSELF. Morse maintained that when he saw that the woman was injured, he called his taxi-driver to take her to the hospital, and, realising his position, turned the revolver on himself. He was in hospital for many weeks as the result of his self-inflicted Injuries. A witness at the trial gave evidence as to hearing the report of the revolver shot, and seeing Morse stoop and kiss the fallen woman before calling the taxi and turning the gun on himself. An Adelaide paper just to hand describes Morse in the following terms;

Tall, slim and boyish, he has a countenance of almost beauty. There is nothing of the accepted criminal type about his face, and his handsome features suggest rather the poet or the artist, than the reckless airman, or devil-maycare soldier of fortune that his record makes him. He has a knack of making and keeping friends, and in Adelaide there are some who are not ashamed to admit their love for the condemned man. While at the Adelaide Hospital, recovering from a self-inflicted wound, Morse endeared himself to the nursing staff and others with whom he came into contact. It is an indication of the personality of the man, when despite the fact that he was a prisoner charged with the greatest of all crimes, and in the eyes of many already a murderer, he was accepted as a friend.

Not only did Morse make friends in the hospital, but, from all over the world, New Zealand, Sydney, Melbourne, and far away England, he received letters. While in England he had visited and become well known to two English noblewomen. These women were passing through Adelaide when Morse lay sick in hospital, and they called and gave a word of cheer and comfort to the unfortunate man. They nave nothing but good to say of Morse at the Adelaide Hospital.

"His was an intelligence above the ordinary," one of those who was thrown into contact with him said. "He loved to 'gabble,' as he somewhat whimsically termed it, and he took a keen interest in all the passing events of the day. Altogether he was charming and attractive. His only great ambition, before the black shadow of tragedy cross his path, was to finish his engineering course; which he began in England some years before. During the time he was awaiting trial his frame of mind altered. "'lf I get off,' he said (and he always believed he would), 'I will take up flying again.' "

The Adelaide "Mail" publishes the following graphic pen picture of. "the real Hori Morse": There was a touch of romance connected even with his christening.

His grandfather was an English officer who fought with distinction in the Maori 'war. He was opposed to a famous chieftain, Hori Abrahamus, and at the end of the conflict a firm friendship grew up between these two warriors. With the passing years it became stronger, and when the English officer's son grew up, the first grandson was named Hori after the ancient Maori chief. At the age of seven Hori Morse joined the Wanganui Preparatory School, and six years later commenced his education at Wanganui College.

His school career came to an end in 1914, when, although not yet 17 years of age, he left with three other boon companions and offered himself for active service. His comrades afterwards met death in France. Morse was first rejected on account of his youth, but persisted and gained admittance to a flying school at Christchurch. An accident in the air nearly brought death, and for ten months he lay on his back in the Christchurch Hospital. Recovery, however, ultimately came, and again he joined up. He left New Zealand, and served with the aerial force until the end of the war, obtaining his wings and the rank of lieutenant.

At the end of the war he began the study of engineering at the London University and for two years he stuck to his self-imposed task. His reason for discontinuing his engineering course is obscure. All he told his friends was that "Prospects were not too bright."

Trouble in Ireland provided him with an opportunity of adventure, and he joined the Royal Irish Constabulary, which, he insists, was a different unit from the Black-and-Tans. Stationed at Tralee, he went through many wild days, and it was here that he was issued the revolver which was to play such a dramatic part in his later life.

Several times he had need to use his revolver, and because it was the means of extricating him from trouble, he came to call the weapon "His friend." Habits acquired during the wild days of the Irish revolution were not quickly forgotten and when Morse came to Australia he brought his revolver with him. Morse's knack of inspiring loyalty among his friends is evidenced by the action of his old school nurse, Sister M. Halcyon, who was matron in charge of the Wanganui College in the years 1910-15. She knew Hori George Arthur Morse as a boy. She loved him. She was in Melbourne when the tragedy occurred, and as soon as she heard of her old school boy's plight, she hurried across to Adelaide to help him.

"Hori Morse came to the Wanganui Preparatory School when he was a little kiddy of seven," Nurse Alleyn said. "Six years later he was admitted to college. I was matron in charge at the time, and it was only when the boys were sick that I saw much of them, but I know that all the house matrons spoke well of Hori Morse. He was rather a delicate boy, and although he took a great interest in all sport, and especially football, he was not an athlete. He was too tall and thin."

"He had a habit of getting mixed up in every schoolboy scrape that was going, and if there was any row on, Hori Morse was sure to be in it. He was absolutely fearless. They used to call him 'Mad Hori,' and all the boys worshipped him. The soul of honor, I never heard or knew of his doing a dishonorable action. He was a gentleman. All his boyish escapades were the notions of a fearless, high-spirited boy. I remember on one occasion he slipped away from the college and slept all night in an open boat on the Wanganul River. Next morning he owned up and took the consequences. Even in those days he loved adventure. Fearless and, daring to a degree, Hori Morse, the boy, never hid behind a lie. I know that in that respect, at least, he has not changed. At school he showed artistic promise, and I have several sketches which he made and gave me here in Adelaide.

"When the war comes, I, with others, was called up. Hori Morse, though only a boy, immediately enlisted.

They told him, however, that New Zealand did not want schoolboys. He was not satisfied, and fairly worried the authorities into accepting him. From then our paths lay in different directions, and I did not see or hear of him again until I received the terrible news in Melbourne. They have sentenced him to death.. It is too horrible, too horrible.

"I went to see him at the hospital. I found he had not changed. 'What are you going to do, sister, when you leave me this afternoon?' he said one bright, sunshiny day. "I am going shopping," I replied. 'I will come and carry your parcels,' he said, and although he smiled, I do not think that he really realised that he was a prisoner. "'Wait until I am free, sister,' he said another day. 'We will, take tea together!' 'Oh, Hori,' I replied, 'do you think you will get off?' He was calmly confident.

"The people of South Australia have not had an opportunity to visualise Hori Morse as he really is. In his cell now they tell me he is gay, almost debonair. That is Hori Morse. He will not squeal. Often as a boy, l have heard him say as much, when with others he was carpeted for some boyish lark. It is his way of facing trouble. I am his friend and I know the heartache that lies beneath It all. "I can see his twinkly old eyes now,"

Morse's old nurse concluded. "How hopeless everything seems. I am one woman, but what little I can do for him I am ready to do. To me, Hori Morse is still only a boy — a good boy. I feel that the public of South Australia should know him as I know him! — the real Hori Morse."

In his statement at his trial, telling how he pleaded to Mrs. Hunter on the Adelaide wharf to abandon her trip in the Medic, Morse said: I knelt down on my right knee and begged her to stay. "Don't make a scene," she said. I got up. I was quite close to her then. I put my hand in my pocket as I was getting up. "What have you there?" she asked. "Show it to me." "My friend," I said.. (That was how he used to refer to his revolver.) I moved back a little. I then took my revolver from my right-hand pocket to show it to her. When I take my revolver from my pocket it is my practice to draw the hammer back with my thumb to prevent it catching on my pocket. I suppose I did so on this occasion. Just as I seemed to have the revolver from my pocket it went off. I did not fire it intentionally. My hand was not in a position to take aim. She exclaimed, "OK, digger!" I caught her. I could see she was hurt. I decided to get my car to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. But when I returned to her I thought she was dead. I bent over her and kissed her. I realised that I had killed the woman I loved. I would rather the bullet had struck me dead than hurt her who, to me, was the dearest woman in the world — the one woman who made life worth while for me, (the one I had come here to protect. I felt I could not, live. I determined to end my life. I again drew my revolver from ;my pocket and fired to shoot myself I missed. I fired again, holding the gun against my body.

THE DEATH SENTENCE. Morse added that from the time he fired the second shot at himself he couldn't remember any more, except being taken into the hospital. The next he remembered was that he was in the Adelaide Hospital. "I never intended to fire the revolver, or to shoot or injure Mrs. Hunter," he reiterated.. "It was purely an accident, and I am innocent of any offence against Mrs. Hunter."

After addresses by counsel and summing up by the Judge, the jury retired for 40 minutes. Amid a profound silence, the foreman announced the verdict: "Guilty of murder." His Honor pronounced the death sentence, and the condemned' man was removed to the gaol. His execution was set down for to-day, July 5. [Since the foregoing was written, the cables have told us that the sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life.]

1924 Aug 27. Released from jail in Australia.

Hori didn't remain in Australia. He returned to New Zealand and had a family.

Uncle Hori lived with us in Herne Bay Auckland on his return from Australia until about 1938

1935 he applied to the Royal Air Force for his 1914-18 War Medal. He gave his address as 19 Wallace St, Herne Bay, Auckland.

1941 Jan 14 Married Stella Adelaide BELL and they had 2 sons.

1983 Apr 10. Died in Wellington NZ. There is a street named after him at Wigram, Christchurch because he was one of the first 100 pilots to graduate from the Canterbury Flying School.