Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of Myles Thoroton Hildyard (1914-2005)


The elder son of Gerald Moresby Thoroton Hildyard K.C., Myles Thoroton Hildyard was educated at Eton and at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He entered Lincoln's Inn as a barrister but never practised. In 1939 Myles Thoroton Hildyard joined the Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry. The regiment was sent to Palestine and Egypt but not called on to undertake much action. Hildyard was able to spend time sightseeing. In 1941 they were sent to Crete. Hildyard was unable to evacuate the island after the fall of Maleme airfield and his unit surrendered to German troops. After a gruelling march from the south to the north of the island he was interned in a prisoner of war camp at Maleme Airfield. Hildyard and a fellow officer, Michael Parish, escaped in bright blue hospital uniforms and spent the next three months hiding on the island, sheltered by Cretans before escaping in a boat to Turkey by way of Greek islands. Both subsequently received the Military Cross.

Myles returned to his regiment and served in North Africa with the 8th Armoured Division, taking part in the Battle of El Alamein. In 1942 Hildyard joined the 10th Armoured Division in North Africa as an intelligence officer. He also worked in Italy in the same role for the 7th Armoured Division, after a brief period back in the Sherwood Rangers as Adjutant to the Lieutenant Colonel 'Flash' Kellett. After his first period of leave in 1944 he accompanied the Normandy invasion, the reconquest of the Low Countries and the march into Germany as brigade intelligence officer. At the conclusion of the war he served briefly as Secretary of Territorial Army and Air Force Association of the County of Nottingham. He was twice mentioned in despatches and was appointed MBE. His diary and letters home chronicle his wartime experiences, including his daring escape from Crete in 1941, and have been published as 'It is bliss here: letters home, 1939-1945' (London: Bloomsbury, 2005).

After the war, Myles Thoroton Hildyard took on the task of restoring Flintham Hall and its garden. Interested in conservation and heritage, he was a founder member of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and worked actively for the National Trust and the Historic Buildings Trust. In his own backyard, he ensured that the village of Flintham was protected from unsightly development. He was President of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire for more than 40 years, and an author of the historical volume 'The Thorotons' (privately printed, 1991), and various articles on the history of his family. He was elected FSA in 1975.  


Myles was unmarried. 

Archive Collections

Published Works

  • Myles Thoroton Hildyard. 'Some letters of Robert and Mary Thoroton and others, 1745-6', in Transactions of the Thoroton Society , vol. 57 (1953), 16-32
  • Myles Thoroton Hildyard. 'The Thorotons of Thoroton, Car Colston, Screveton and Flintham', in Transactions of the Thoroton Society, vol. 58 (1954), 57-64
  • Myles Thoroton Hildyard. 'Dr Robert Thoroton', in Transactions of the Thoroton Society , vol. 61 (1957), 8-20
  • Myles Thoroton Hildyard. The Thorotons (privately printed, 1991) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Special Collection Oversize Not 150.V30 THO]
  • Myles Thoroton Hildyard. It is bliss here : letters home, 1939-1945 (London : Bloomsbury, 2005) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 150.V38 HIL]

Published Sources

  • Obituaries in The Telegraph (26 August 2005), The Times (31 August 2005) and The Independent (14 September 2005) 

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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