The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (92533) Corporal Ruth Ada Hills, Headquarters North Eastern Area Townsville, Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force World War

Place Oceania: Australia, Queensland, Brisbane
Accession Number PAFU2014/398.01
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 19 October 2014
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. The story for this day was on (92533) Corporal Ruth Ada Hills, Headquarters North Eastern Area Townsville, Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force World War.

Note: There is no recording for this event

Speech transcript

92533 Corporal Ruth Ada Hills, Headquarters North Eastern Area Townsville, Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force
KIA 27 March 1943
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 19 October 2014

Today we pay tribute to Corporal Ruth Ada Hills, who was killed on active service with the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force in 1943.

Born in the Western Sydney suburb of Petersham on 22 May 1923, Hills was the daughter of Edward Reuben and Elise Earl Hills. She attended Stanmore Domestic Science School, before completing her education at Chartres Business College. There Hills trained as a stenographer, which involved recording speeches and conversation in shorthand. Hills left school at the age of 14, and supported herself over the next four years by working as a stenographer at a solicitor’s office.

She enlisted in the WAAAF in Bankstown on 9 October 1941. Due to her experience as a stenographer, the WAAAF assigned Hills to train in the role of teleprinter operator. On completing the training course at Bankstown she was posted to the Headquarters North-Eastern Area in Townsville. There the WAAAF was extremely busy as it provided vital support to both the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Army Air Corps. During the war, over 27,000 Australian women enlisted in the WAAAF and many served at the Townsville base.

Hills excelled at her job, and was promoted to corporal in November 1942. During this time Townsville was teeming with young men and women. Through her work Hills met a sergeant, and in February 1943 they became engaged. Shortly thereafter she came down with dengue fever and was permitted to return to Sydney on sick leave.

In the early hours of the morning of 27 March 1943 Hills joined a large group of servicemen and servicewomen for the transport flight from Brisbane to Sydney. The Douglas C46 Dakota aircraft of No. 36 Squadron took off at 5 am in conditions of poor visibility. An engine failed shortly after take-off and the aircraft crashed into heavy timber, catching fire immediately. All 23 occupants of the aircraft were killed instantly.

Hills was only 19 years old.

The wartime Minister for Air, Fred Drakeford, extended his deepest sympathy to all relatives and friends of those who had perished in the accident. A full military funeral was held in Brisbane for the fallen Australian servicemen and servicewomen. Large and silent crowds lined Adelaide Street in central Brisbane as the funeral cortège progressed to Lutwyche cemetery. The coffins were placed side by side on four RAAF vehicles and covered with flowers and the Australian flag. RAAF servicemen acted as pall-bearers for Hills’s coffin, and her colleagues from the Townsville WAAAF base placed wreaths on each of the graves. Hills’s parents travelled to Brisbane for the funeral, joining 100 members of the WAAAF and 150 of the RAAF. Also in attendance was the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Jones, the wartime Minister for Air, and the federal member for Griffith Mr William Conelan.

The name of Ruth Hills is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 Australians killed in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Corporal Ruth Ada Hills, and all of those Australians – as well as our Allies and brothers in arms – who gave their lives in the hope for a better world.