Naval officers full dress coat : Lieutenant G A Hill, Royal Naval Reserve

Accession Number REL30430.002
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Superfine wool; Gold bullion lace; Gilded brass; Silk; Leather
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Australia Goes To War: Australia 1914/International Situation
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1909-1910
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918

Naval officers full dress coat. The double breasted blue superfine wool coat has a double row of eight buttons, and skirt tails lined with white kerseymere. The tails have concealed inset pockets of white cotton. There is a loose vertical pleat down the outside of each skirt tail with a gilt button at the waist and the bottom of the skirt. The top of each skirt has pointed blue flaps edged with gold lace, with three buttons underneath them.

The body of the coat is lined with ribbed white rayon (a later addition over the disintegrating original white silk), as well as plain quilted white silk over the breast and under the arms of the coat. The inside waist is reinforced with a band of leather that is secured with a gilded brass clasp. The side seams on the outside waist have gilded brass hooks to secure a sword belt.

The white cloth stand collar, lined with black silk, is edged with gold lace and fastened with two hooks. Each sleeve has 'wavy' gold braid rank insignia for a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve. The cuffs are slashed with white pointed cloth with three buttons, and edged with gold lace. All buttons on the coat are gilded brass and bear the crown, anchor and 'RNR' insignia of an officer of the Royal Naval Reserve.

History / Summary

This naval officer's full dress coat was worn by Lieutenant Gerald Ashby Hill, who served in the Royal Naval Reserve.

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 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.