Private Ernest Hill


Ernest Hill was born on 5 July 1896 at 170 Cambrai Street, Belfast, the third or fourth child of hackle-setter (later clerk) William John Hill and his wife Margaret (née Major). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 24 White Rock Road, Belfast, with his parents and two of his three surviving siblings, and working as an office boy.

Hill enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 28 June and 19 July 1916 (No.2213). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France in late 1916 or the first half of 1917, where he was posted to C Squadron – No.4 Troop – which was part of the 2nd North Irish Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Hill, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Hill was issued regimental number 41322 and posted to C Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Hill was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured, unwounded, on 27 March at Erches, near Roye, when much of the battalion had been overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at camps in Stendal, Limburg and Wittenberg.

Following his repatriation, Hill was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 7 April 1919. He was granted a pension for three years as a result of disability attributed to his military service.

After the war Hill initially lived at his parents' house, Heathview, Ballygomartin Road, Belfast.

It is probable that he was the Ernest Hill, retired clerk of 11 Sunningdale Park, Belfast, who died at Forster Green Hospital on 3 January 1965.

The article below, which relates to the death of Hill's father, gives some further information about him and his family.


Belfast Telegraph, 5 June 1946