Rowland Rutherford Hill was born on 11 February 1922 in Adelaide, South Australia, to Emily and Albert Charles Hill. He served one year with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade as a member of the Cadets in his youth and, by 1940, was working as a clerk for the Bank of Adelaide. On 26 August that year, Hill enrolled in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve at No. 5 Recruiting Centre in Adelaide. He was called to full-time service eight months later and was attested into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 24 April 1941.
Accepted for pilot training, Hill completed aircrew and flying courses at No. 5 Initial Training School, No. 9 Elementary Flying Training School and No. 4 Service Flying Training School. He was promoted to leading aircraftman in June 1941, awarded his pilot’s badge in October and, on graduating from his service flying course, was commissioned as a pilot officer in December. Following further training in navigation and reconnaissance, Hill was posted to the Central Flying School as a navigator instructor from April 1942. Desiring a return to flying duties, he relinquished his commission five months later and was re-enlisted as a sergeant pilot.
Hill completed additional training in high altitude flying, fighter tactics and army co-operation, before being posted to No. 25 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce from December 1942. He subsequently saw service in New Guinea with No. 21 Squadron in 1944 and, following his return to Australia, was re-commissioned as a pilot officer on 1 January 1945. From June that year, now-Flying Officer Hill was reposted to the Pacific, serving with No. 78 Squadron on Morotai and Tarakan and later with No. 77 Squadron on Labuan.
Following the end of the war, No. 77 Squadron was selected to serve as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) in Japan. Hill arrived in Japan with the squadron in February 1946. He was transferred to No. 82 Squadron, also serving as part of BCOF, four months later and on 1 January 1947 was promoted to flight lieutenant. Hill returned to Australia in February 1948 but returned to Japan soon after, and was granted accommodation in the married quarters with his wife and their young daughter. In September, with No. 82 Squadron preparing to disband, Hill was re-posted to No. 77 Squadron. A confidential report by his commanding officers at that time described Hill as an "above the average type of officer", a "keen and sound pilot" and a "capable and conscientious flight commander".
On 3 December 1948, Hill's flight was engaged in rocket firing practice at the Iwakuni Bombing Range in Japan. Piloting the lead P-51 Mustang, Hill was pulling out after his fourth practice attack when his aircraft "was observed to disintegrate and strike the water immediately afterwards". Hill was killed in the crash. He had more than 1,534 flying hours at the time of his death and had consistently been rated as an "above average" pilot. Hill was granted a military funeral and is buried in Yokohama War Cemetery.