The Personal Effects of Brigadier-General Frederick W. Hill, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.
The Personal Effects of Brigadier-General Frederick W. Hill, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. - Includes a 14 K Gold Gruen Wrist Watch (engraved "BRIG. GEN. F.W. HILL C.B. C.M.G. D.S.O. V.D. FROM THE OFFICERS OF M.D. 7. JAN. 27, 30", 25 mm x 37 mm, with two-piece leather strap), a British Empire Service League Canadian Legion Medal, 1 Clasp - MERITORIOUS SERVICE (silver and enamels, engraved "BRIG.-GEN. F.W. HILL, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. NEW BRUNSWICK COMMAND", maker marked "SCULLY LTD. MONTREAL" and marked "STERLING" on the reverse, 30 mm x 32.5 mm, original ribbon, pinback hanger inscribed "HONORARY OFFICER") and a black and white Photograph of Hill in front of the Vimy Memorial (dated July 26, 1936, 65 mm x 109 mm, with handwritten inscription on the reverse). The watch remains functional after more than eighty years. Very fine. Footnote: Frederick William Hill was born in Welland, Ontario on July 28, 1866. He was eight when his family moved to Niagara Falls, where his father was appointed as Police Magistrate. Hill studied law at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall and was called to the bar in 1891. While at university in Toronto, he also enlisted as a Private with "K" Company, Queen's Own Rifles in 1884. He married Henrietta Johnson in 1894 and the couple were to have one child, a daughter, Louise. Hill returned to Niagara Falls and opened a law office on lower Queen Street, where he took an interest in municipal politics, serving as Mayor of Niagara Falls in 1898. He was also a Warden of Christ Church on River Road for many years and served as President of the Hospital Board. Hill served from 1886-1914 with the 44th Lincoln and Welland Regiment, appointed a Provisional Lieutenant and commanded the regiment until the outbreak of the First World War. Following the outbreak of the war in August 1914, Hill immediately closed his law office signed on for active service, becoming the original Commanding Officer of the 1st Infantry Battalion and holding the position from September 22, 1914 to January 17, 1916. The 1st Infantry Battalion was raised in Southwestern Ontario with mobilization headquarters at Camp Valcartier under the authority of P.C.O. 2067, August 6, 1914. The Battalion sailed October 3, 1914 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick W. Hill with a strength of 47 officers and 1,106 other ranks. The Battalion served in France with the 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. Hill arrived in France in early February 1915, promoted eleven months later to the rank of Brigadier-General and appointed to command the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division. The 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade was composed of the 43rd (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) Battalion, the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion, the 58th (Central Ontario) Battalion, the 60th (Victoria Rifles of Canada) Battalion, the 116th (Ontario County) Battalion, the 9th Light Trench Mortar Battalion and the 9th Canadian Machine-Gun Company, participating at the Battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. On Friday, October 26, 1917, Hill was with the 9th in the rain and semi-darkness, with thousands of Canadian soldiers crouch in waterlogged shell holes or muddy ditches awaiting the signal to begin a major offensive: a battle that was destined to become one of the most famous of the First World War. Their objective was a strategic ridge and a little Belgium village, both known as Passchendaele, both strongly fortified by the Germans. In order to achieve this goal, it meant crossing a ghastly expanse of soupy, sticky mud in the face of what is certain to be withering enemy fire power from a long line of machine gun emplacements (pillboxes) at the top of the ridge. Suddenly, the officers stood up and blew their whistles. The Battle of Passchendaele had started. Within minutes the earth was literally shaking from the firing of heavy artillery from both sides. A participant later likened the scene to “a big jelly pot of wet mud and water…quivering under the fire of the guns.” In charge of the 9th Brigade was Brigadier-General Frederick W. Hill of Niagara Falls. The 9th’s prime objective was to capture what was called the Bellevue Spur, a strongly defended part of the Ridge. Hill and his men clawed their way forward until they gained a toehold on the Spur, but their advance was soon checked by intense and accurate German artillery fire. Counter-attack followed counter-attack but the 9th still stubbornly clinged to the tiny area it had captured on top of the Spur. Still, it was clear that they could not hang on much longer without reinforcements. Fortunately, these arrived just in time so that by the following morning, the 9th had gained the upper hand, capturing a large part of the Bellevue Spur. Hill, in a letter written a few days later, noted, “It was a fine performance. We had the nut to crack and we did it.” The offensive resumed on October 30th, after the guns had been dragged forward through the mud: an incredibly difficult job. The fighting lasted until November 6th, when the Canadians entered the village of Passchendaele. It had been an impressive victory for the Canadian Corps, a story of remarkable courage and endurance. However, the victory had come at an enormous cost: 15,654 Canadians had been killed or wounded. In the Niagara Falls Review, dated November 7, 1917, the headline trumpeted “Canadians Make Splendid Assault,” which was followed by details about the “How Canucks Won Passchendaele.” Frederick Hill was one of the survivors of Passchendaele and was to have a long and very distinguished career in the military. There is little doubt Hill carried the memory of Passchendaele to the end of his days. He served continuously with the 9th Brigade until August 1918, three months before the Armistice, when he was given command of a military camp in Surrey, England. Hill was Mentioned in Dispatches six times and awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) (as mentioned in the Supplement to the London Gazette 31092 of Tuesday, December 31, 1918, on Wednesday, January 1, 1919, page 2), the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) (as mentioned in the Supplement to the London Gazette 30450 of Friday, December 28, 1917, on January 1, 1918, page 6), the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), and for his First World War service, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. In fact, he was one of only six Canadians officers to receive the CB, the CMG and the DSO for service in the First World War. In the Spring of 1919, with hostilities having ceased the following year, the soldiers began returning to Canada. However, a group of dock workers in Liverpool decided to strike without notice, by refusing to load baggage upon the departing ships. In an article, dated April 23, 1919 at London, it describes the chaos, with Hill mentioned as being slated a passenger on the S.S. Megantic: "A number of First Division troops, ready to sail for Canada, must remain in England owing to a dock workers’ strike at Liverpool, which held up the departure of the White Star liner Baltic, upon which they were to make the trip. A singular incident marked the departure today of the Metagama from Liverpool to Quebec with 500 wives, 200 children and 50 babies with husbands and fathers from Buxton. The strikers threatened to hold up the sailing of the ship by refusing to put the baggage on board. Arrangements were quickly made for a fatigue party among the married soldiers to get the baggage of the wives and children on board. It was safely stowed away without loss of time, many on board being unaware of how nearly their voyage had been delayed or cancelled altogether. The strike was absolutely unauthorized and is not likely to last long. Seven thousand men refused to work today. Brigadier-General Hill and Colonel A.B. Eve, and Colonel G.S. Rennie are aboard the Metagama. The Tunisian sails Friday and will be almost wholly filled with munition workers." Following the war he remained with the military, appointed to the Permanent Force, serving in a number of Military Districts in Ontario and New Brunswick. Upon moving to Fredericton, New Brunswick, he resumed his law practice and assumed the role of Commander of Military District No. 7 in Fredericton, until his retirement in 1930. He was also named Honourary Colonel of the Carleton and York Regiment, as well as being appointed King's Counsel in 1921. In May 1927, he travelled to Niagara Falls, to officially unveil the Soldiers Memorial Monument near the foot of Clifton Hill. Between 1930 and 1931, he was Commissioner of the New Brunswick Provincial Police. Considered to be one of Canada’s most eminent soldiers, Brigadier-General Frederick W. Hill died in Fredericton, New Brunswick on March 12, 1954, at the age of 87. His body was returned to Niagara Falls for a full military service at Christ Church. He was buried at Fairview Cemetery, Plot B-16, in Niagara Falls.