Harry Hilton Were was born at Richmond, Victoria, on 16 December 1893 to Harry Hart Were and Elizabeth Were (née Hilton). At the time of enlistment, Were’s occupation was recorded as a paper ruler (a skilled operator who set up inking pens in printing machines designed to ink lines on paper). As part of mandated militia service, Were served in the 14th Army Medical Corps (AMC) for six years before his enlistment. On his enlistment application, Were indicated that he suffered from a heart condition, which had resulted in his being rejected for active military service previously.
Were enlisted as Hilton Harry Were in the Australian Imperial Force at Melbourne on 17 March 1917. He was attached to the Army Medical Corps, Hospital Transports, and departed Sydney on 21 March 1917 aboard No. 2 Hospital Ship Kanowna; this was its sixth voyage in this capacity. Were remained with this ship for the duration of his service in the AIF. Were was aboard the Kanowna when it returned to Australia, on its seventh voyage, in September 1917, and re-embarked for the ship’s eighth voyage between February and May 1918. Were was promoted to sergeant in December 1918.
During return voyages aboard Kanowna, Were performed in several concerts with the Kanowna Follies. During a concert held on 3 August 1918, he performed “Good Bye-ee”. Were again performed with the Kanowna Follies on 15 February 1919, singing “Teach Me How To Fly”.
Were disembarked from Kanowna during March 1919, and was discharged as medically unfit on 12 June 1919.
After discharge, Were appears to have returned to his former occupation as a paper ruler. From about 1924, records indicate that he was working as a civil servant until retirement. He married Caroline Mary Porter in Victoria in 1923 and settled in the suburb of Moonee Ponds, Victoria.
During the Second World War, Were enlisted on 17 March 1941 at Moonee Ponds. He was was serving with the 9th Garrison Battalion when he was discharged on 14 January 1942. He re-enlisted on 16 February 1942 at Royal Park, Victoria, and was serving with the 1 Australian Central Ordnance Depot with the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 when he was discharged on 20 December 1945.
Hilton Harry Were died in Malvern, Victoria on 1 November 1970 at the age of 76. His wife died in Victoria in 1988 at the age of 94.