Naval officer's full dress cocked hat : Lieutenant G A Hill, Royal Naval Reserve

Accession Number REL30430.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Headdress
Physical description Beaver; Silk; Leather; Gilded brass; Gold bullion wire
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Australia Goes To War: Australia 1914/International Situation
Maker J Friedeberg
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1909-1910
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918

Naval officers full dress black 'beaver' cocked hat lined with loosely pleated white silk and a leather sweatband. The upper edge of the hat is bordered with black silk lace woven in an oak leaf and acorn pattern. The right side bears a black silk ribbon cockade and a single twist of bright gold bullion looped around a gilded brass Royal Navy officer's button. Each end of the hat bears an inset tassel consisting of five small gold bullions mounted above five gold and five blue bullion eyes.

History / Summary

This naval officer's full dress cocked hat was worn by Lieutenant Gerald Ashby Hill, who served in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR). It was worn for parade or other ceremonial occasions when full dress was required.

Hill was born at Birmingham, England in 1880. He had already qualified as a master mariner in the Merchant Navy when he was taken on strength in the Royal Naval Reserve as a sub-lieutenant in 1909.

Hill was promoted to lieutenant in 1913 and in May that year was lent for duty aboard the battle-cruiser HMAS Australia. He was a member of the Military (sea-going) branch and had completed short courses in signalling, gunnery and torpedoes.

This was typical of experienced merchant seaman who were recruited and trained by the Royal Navy and then sent to Australia to assist with development and training in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), which had been established in 1911. Hill was posted to HMAS Yarra in July 1914 and took part in the seizure of German New Britain by the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF).

Hill commanded one of the columns sent to capture the Bitapaka Road on 11 September 1914 and was the first member of the Australian forces to capture an armed enemy force in the First World War. He transferred to the RAN in 1915 and served in HMAS Torrens in European waters for the rest of the war. Hill retired in 1920 and settled in Sydney, dying there in 1931.