025 and 026 – Private Frank William Hills and Private George Haywood Hills

Private Frank William Hills  52nd Battalion
Private George Haywood Hills
51st Battalion

Frank, aged 27 a married labourer and his younger brother William, aged 24, both from Rocherlea volunteered for enlistment on 7 January 1916.  The brothers were following in the footsteps of their younger brother Gordon who had enlisted in March 1915.

The brothers were initially allotted to the 16th reinforcements for the 12th Battalion now in Egypt. With the splitting of the Battalion and the creation of a new battalion— the 52nd, Private Frank Hills was transferred to the new battalion. In early September 1916 the battalion was in action at Mouquet Farm an important stronghold that the Allies need to take. Several pitch battles were fought here before the Canadians managed to hold the farm. Frank Hills sustained a shrapnel wound and was evacuated for treatment. In June 1917 he was detached for duty at the Steenwerck Baths before returning once more to his unit.

On 13 July the Battalion moved up into the front line in the St Ives area, relieving the 15th Battalion. One soldier was wounded—was this Frank Hills? Possibly! He was evacuated having sustained a shrapnel wound to his right hand and forearm. In November he left England for return to Australia and was finally discharged from the A.I.F in July 1918.

George was also transferred to the 52nd Battalion along with his brother. George survived the action at Mouquet Farm but the following day went Absent Without Leave for 4 days. The circumstances surrounding this action aren’t clear at present. This was a particularly serious offence given that he was absent when in the front line. He was found guilty at the Field General Court Martial and sentenced to 60 days Field Punishment No. 2 and the loss of 65 days pay. He re-joined his unit on 25 November. In May 1918 the 52nd Battalion ceased to exist  and Private George Hills was transferred to the 51st Battalion where he remained until his return to Australia, departing England in May 1919.

A third brother also served. Gordon, a 20 year old farm labourer who enlisted in March 1915 and was allotted to ‘C’ Company with the 26th Battalion. Gordon saw action on Gallipoli late in 1915 but whilst there was severely frost bitten and evacuated for treatment.  He embarked for Australia in February 1917.