© Avening Parish Council 2023
“Preserve, Conserve, Enhance”
26 George Hill
Private: 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders
Extract: Stroud News and Journal Friday 31st May 1918 Page 2
"The heroes of Avening have been very hard put in the war. One of the most sad cases is that of Pte.
George Hill of the Seaforth Highlanders and second son of the late Mr. James Hill of Avening. He
was badly wounded in the German offensive about the end of April in a gallant defence of the
British positions. His bravery elicited the following high commendation. "The Major commanding
the 4th Division has received a report of the gallant conduct of Pte. G Hill, 2nd Battalion, Seaforth
Highlanders, and he wishes to congratulate him on his fine behaviour." Pte. Hill was severely
wounded in the attacks and on the British retirement he was found lying upon the battlefield by the
Germans. They, however, gave him aid by attending to his wounds, but left him just where he fell.
When the British counterattacked they found him. But he had been there for three days and his
strength was so far gone that he died in a short time. He was 33 years of age. At one time he
worked at Oakham Mill, Nailsworth. Then he went to Bristol and afterwards to London. He leaves a
widow and one child at Cricklewood.”
Extract: Stroud News and Journal Friday 14th June 1918 Page 3
" Pte. G Hill, formerly of Avening whose death in France from wounds was reported a fortnight ago,
has been awarded the DCM, (Distinguished Conduct Medal) as a posthumous honour in recognition
of his gallant conduct in holding up the German advance in April. His wife, who lives at Cricklewood,
has been informed of this award. He was in the Seaforth Highlanders, 4th Division and was very
highly commended by the officer in command."
George's family history has some inconsistencies. Always given the name George, even by the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, his full name was George Hubbard Hill. We know his
father was James Hill, a quarryman, born about 1858 in Bath and his mother Elizabeth, born in
Wootton-under-Edge around 1852. The family settled in Star Lane in about 1877. George's birth is
registered in 1884. We have no record of a baptism for him or his siblings but they may have been
with the Baptist church. The family had moved to Mays Lane by the 1891 census. Elizabeth had died
by this time. She was not buried in Holy Cross churchyard.
James had remarried by the 1901 census and the family including George were still living in Mays
Lane, when he was described as a mattress maker. He worked at Oakham Mill, Nailsworth. As
confirmed by the press reports, he married Ethel Slinger in London in the spring of 1911 and they
had a daughter two years later.
We are unsure when he enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders although he may well have been
conscripted and posted to whatever unit most needed men. He found himself facing the German
Army at the time of the enemy’s last big push, which started in March 1918. He was one of two men
manning a Lewis gun, he firing the weapon and his comrade being the ammunition carrier and
loader. As the Germans advanced, George lost contact with his colleague and other members of his
section but continued the fight on.
He was wounded and lay in the field being tended to by the advancing enemy troops. Whilst lying
there, the British counter-attacked and three days later he was found and taken back to a field
dressing station. It was too late to save him and he died on 3rd May 1918.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Certificate confirms the Distinguished Conduct Medal
(DCM) and the citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. As Lewis gunner he fought his gun in an exposed
position. He poured drum after drum into the enemy, who overwhelmed his team. After lying
wounded, he escaped from the enemy in the dark.”
This is not quite consistent with press reports in Stroud which explained that he had lain on the
battlefield until the British counter-attack. The local newspapers also gave his medal award as the
Military Medal (MM). The Seaforth Highlanders’ archives can find no record of the MM being
awarded but confirmed a DCM to GH Hill of Cricklewood.
Confusion continued in Avening when it came to the War Memorial tablets in our church. His entry
can be seen as George M M Hill, although, as an excuse, he has been away from the village for ten
years. He carried Avening’s highest award in the village for WW1.
He is buried in the Étaples Military Cemetery. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British
Medal which his wife would have received. We have been unable to locate any relatives.