CWG: Rifleman George Hill

Rifleman George Hill

George Hill was born in Castle Cary, Somerset, in 1868. Documents relating to his early life are hard to pin down and, as his is a common name, it is not possible to identify any parental relationships.

The first document that can be categorically connected to George is the 1891 census. This confirms that he was living in his home town, and was married to a woman called Ellen. The couple had a year-old daughter, Elsie, and were both employed as horsehair workers, getting the material ready for use in upholstery.

It seems that Ellen must have died soon after the census as, in the autumn of 1893, he married Florence Cave, a stonemason’s daughter, who was also from Castle Cary. The 1901 census finds George and Florence living with Elsie, but with two children of their own, Laura and Edward.

By the time of the following census, in 1911, the family had grown again, with two more children, Percy and Doris. George’s eldest daughter was, at this point, working as a housemaid for a family in Winchester, while Laura was employed as a tailoress. George himself was still working as a horsehair curler, a trade he had been in for more than twenty years.

War was on its way, and despite being in his mid-forties, George appeared to have been keen to play his part. Full details are not available, but it seems that he had enlisted by May 1918, initially joining the Somerset Light Infantry, where he was assigned to the 4th Battalion. He was soon transferred over to the Rifle Brigade, however, and was attached to the 22nd (Wessex and Welsh) Battalion.

This particular troop initially served on home soil but was sent to Salonika in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1916. There is nothing in Rifleman Hill’s records to suggest that he went with them, however, and it may be that he had not yet enlisted at this point the conflict. His medal records show that he was awarded the Victory and British Medals, but that these were for his territorial work, rather than anything overseas.

Rifleman Hill served until near the end of the war. He had returned home by November 1918, and it was here, on the 9th, that he passed away from pneumonia. He was 52 years of age.

George Hill was buried in the cemetery of his home town, in the family plot. Florence was also laid to rest there, some eighteen years later, husband and wife together again at last.


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