CWG: Stoker 1st Class Henry Hill

Stoker 1st Class Henry Hill

Henry Charles Hill was born in Eton Wick, Berkshire, on 16th December 1894. He was the son of Alfred and Sarah Hill and was one of seven children – tragically only he and his younger sister survived childhood. Arthur was a wheelwright and, while Henry worked as a jobbing gardener when he left school, by the time he was eighteen, he had found employment as a cycle fitter.

Storm clouds were brewing over Europe and, on 14th April 1913, Henry enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class. His service records show that he was 5ft 4ins (1.63m) tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion; it was also noted that he had a scar under his left eye.

Henry was sent to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for his training, but was given his first posting on HMS St George on 22nd November 1913. After five months on board, he was promoted to Stoker 1st Class and transferred to the battleship HMS King George V.

Stoker Hill spent more than three years at sea, before returning to HMS Pembroke in July 1917. The Dockyard was particularly busy that summer, and the large number of extra servicemen meant that Henry was billeted in temporary accommodation in Chatham Drill Hall.

On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force bombarded the town, and scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall; Stoker Hill was among those killed instantly. He was just 22 years of age.

Henry Charles Hill was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.

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