LIEUTENANT HAROLD ROWLAND HILL
4TH OCTOBER 1917 AGE 22
BURIED: BUTTES NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, POLYGON WOOD, BELGIUM
What would you say to your mother as you signed off the letter you were writing to her just before you went up into the front line? You'd tell her that you were OK. The inscription is in quotation marks, surely the words are therefore Hill's, and given the fact that they have been used for his inscription, they must be something like the last words he wrote to her.
On the night of the 1st/2nd October the Battalion arrived at Esplanade Saps, Zonneke. Its effective strength was was 35 officers and 989 other ranks. They spent the 3rd, 'In Front Line' and then on the night of the 3rd/4th the War Dairy records:
"Jumping off tape was laid by midnight along frontage and along Coy. flanks. The Battalion was on same by 4.30am on 4th. At zero the Bn. closed up to within 50 yards of barrage and fought its way to the objective where it consolidated."
On the 7th October the battalion moved back into the support lines. Their casualties for this period were two officers and 38 other ranks killed, 10 officers and 185 other ranks wounded and 16 other ranks missing.
Witnesses recorded in the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau files inform us of Hill's fate:
"Lieutenant Hill was killed before the hopover just behind Zonnebeke, near Zonnebeke Church. He was with Brigade Sig. at the time in charge of 25th Hd. Qrts. Sig."
"He led the 7th Bde. Signallers advance party over the top, near Zonnebeke about 6.30 am on Oct. 4/17. I was quite close to him when he was severely wounded during the heavy barrage, and was taken by S/Bs to the Menin Road Hospital near the Comforts Fund."
"I helped to bandage Lt. Hill. He was so badly wounded in the head and hit almost allover his body too, that he could not have lived more than an hour if that. Afterwards I heard that he had lived nearly two hours."
"Mr Hill went over the morning of the 4th October with a party of Bde. Sigs and we, the Battn Sigs were not with him at the time he was hit. But from particulars I gathered from one of our A.M.C. men I think he passed through the battalion Dressing Station unconscious but still alive, and died on the stretcher on the way to the A.D.S."