Charles Hill

worcestershire regimentPrivate, 41328, 1/7th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment (formerly 32145 Norfolk Regiment), killed in action, 9th October 1917, aged 33

Born at Crowle in 1884, Charles was the second son and one of six children of William and Mary Hill (nee Chester) of the White Hart, Market Place. The Hill’s had run the White Hart from the mid 1880’s and alongside the pub and hotel they also ran a carrier, hackney cab taxi and ‘post delivery’ business. Following William’s death in early 1903, his widow Mary ran the White Hart and Charles the posting business, known as Hill Bros after younger brothers, John and Bill joined him in 1914. Charles had married Annie Finch in 1910 and was also an enthusiastic member of the local RAOB Lodge.

Charles enlisted in the army at Crowle, post 1915. Following completion of his training he was posted to the Norfolk Regiment, later transferring to the 1/7th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. In 1917 the 1/7th Worcester’s were out of the front line in the early months of the Third Battle of Ypres. Although Charles was not with them throughout all this period as in August he was hospitalised for two weeks in hospital suffering from bad feet caused by marching!

Charles had rejoined his unit by 7th October when they left Dambre Camp to move to positions south east of Broodseinde, ready for an attack on the village of Poelcappelle. Intended to secure the two spurs leading up to the Passchendale Ridge, the Battle of Poelcappelle, was to be the final preparatory action before the large scale assault of the First Battle of Passchendale. Preparations for the battle were seriously hampered by five days of incessant rain that had started to fall on the afternoon on 4th October and only ceased on the morning of the 8th, the day before the battle. The artillery were unable to site their guns properly and their mule train ammunition convoys were unable to negotiate the mud to bring them their ammunition. What shells were fired either failed to explode in the mud or just made the ground worse.

Whilst the Worcester’s were in place on the 8th the two units either side of them had difficulty making their positions as they struggled to find their way in the devastated landscape. It took them the best part of 11 hours to walk the two and a half miles from where they had been billeted. The attack began at 5.20am on 9th October and the 1/7th Worcester’s fought their way through the knee deep mud and machine gun fire to attack and capture the German strongpoint at Adler Farm. There was an unsuccessful attacked by two companies on Inch Farm and an attempted German counter-attack on Adler Farm, but the battalion held its ground until relieved the next day. Among their casualties was Charles Hill. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

A memorial service was held for Charles at St Oswald’s Church on 18th November.

hill brothers advert with coach and horses

Charles Hill in the driving seat of one of his team of coaches