Pair of naval officer's full dress epaulettes : Lieutenant G A Hill, Royal Naval Reserve

Accession Number REL30430.003
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Gold bullion wire; Gold bullion lace; Gilded brass; Brass; Silk; Leather; Silver bullion
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Australia Goes To War: Australia 1914/International Situation
Maker Matthews & Co, Naval Outfitters
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1909-1910
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918

Pair of naval officers full dress epaulettes lined with black leather stamped in gold with the manufacturer's details. The area that the epaulette rests on the end of the wearer's shoulder is made from padded blue silk. Each epaulette has a brass slide underneath the strap and a gilded brass Royal Navy officer's button on top of the strap to secure it to the coat. The slides are stamped 'RIGHT' and 'LEFT'.

The upper side of the epaulette straps are covered in plain gold lace with a raised gold wire embroidered crescent at the shoulder end. Each strap bears a silver embroidered anchor and cable chain for the rank of lieutenant. The ends of the epaulettes have a double row of gold bullions. There are twenty gold bullions around the outer rim and nineteen smaller bullions inside them.

History / Summary

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