The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3261A) Driver George Hill, 32nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.238
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 26 August 2017
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

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. Hosted by Michael Kelly, the story for this day was on (3261A) Driver George Hill, 32nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3261A Driver George Hill, 32nd Battalion, AIF
KIA 19 November 1917

Story delivered 26 August 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Driver George Hill.

George Hill was born in 1892 and was one of seven children of Richard and Mary Hill of Burra in the mid-north of South Australia. After attending Burra State School, George worked for some time in the local records office before finding work as a stationhand and boundary rider at Koo-wie and Belah grazing stations. After two years, he moved on to the Mulyungarle station in Mutooroo country where he worked in the years before the war.

George and his brothers were notable sportsmen, well known throughout the Burra district for sprinting. A local newspaper report remembered how George’s “pleasant and unselfish disposition won him many friends both on the sporting and football grounds”.

George enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in Adelaide in March 1916, and after a period of training embarked for England with a reinforcement group for the 32nd Battalion. Once there, he underwent further training on the Salisbury Plain before sailing to the Western Front in November 1916.

He joined his battalion in the line near the village of Gueudecourt on the Somme. A few weeks later, George received a gunshot wound to the leg while carrying out a successful trench raid on German positions. Because of the severity of his wound, he was evacuated to England, where he had a lengthy period of rest and recovery.

Instead of returning to France to re-join his battalion after discharge from hospital, George was transferred to the newly-raised 70th Battalion. As part of an effort to expand the AIF from five infantry divisions to six, the 70th Battalion was raised in March 1917 to form what would become known as the 6th Australian Division.

Drawing on his experience as a stationhand and boundary rider, George was made a driver, transporting and supplying the infantry troops of the battalion by horse-drawn wagon. However, as a result of manpower shortages that occurred through heavy casualties in 1917, the 6th Division’s existence was short-lived; it was broken up so that its personnel could reinforce existing units.

George returned to the 32nd Battalion in November 1917, in the final days of what was known as the Third Battle of Ypres. The battalion had been relieved from the front line along Westhoek Ridge near Passchendaele and was moved south to the relatively quiet Messines sector.

Early on the morning of 19 November, just five days after George had returned to the battalion, German troops carried out a raid on the positions occupied by the 32nd Battalion near Houplines. During the fighting, George was severely wounded across his body, most likely by a German hand grenade. He was evacuated to the 53rd Casualty Clearance Station at nearby Bailleul where he died later that day.

Aged 25 at the time his death, George was buried at the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension. A small inscription by his grieving family appears on his headstone. It reads: “Deeply Mourned”.

Of the four Hill brothers to have fought in the war, George was the second to die. His older brother Samuel had earlier died of broncho-pneumonia and was buried on the Somme.

George Hill’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

His is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Driver George Hill, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3261A) Driver George Hill, 32nd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)