John Edward HILL - RTA - ID# Not yet identified

HILL_John Edward 437 - 01, c 1914- ex Judy PurkissJohn Edward Hill was the second of thirteen children born to Edgar William and Amelia Hill (nee Brown).

He was known as Jack and J.E. and worked as an iron turner in England before migrating to Australia.

We are yet to identify young John Hill in the 11th Battalion Cheops photo.

Early Years

John Hill was born on 19 June 1891 and baptised on 28 August 1892 at Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England. Jack immigrated to Western Australia about 1911−1912 and settled in the Albany area. His mother and siblings departed England in July 1913 and his father wound up their affairs and followed during October that year. Jack’s eldest brother Willy died on 31 December 1913, just weeks after arriving. It appears they lived in Grassmere, Kwaijup and Albany for several years working in other jobs to supplement income from the farming venture that his father had embarked on.

World War One

Aged 25, Jack enlisted on the 15 August 1914 just days after World War One was formally declared. He was five foot seven inches tall with blue eyes and light brown curly hair and joined the 11th Battalion, part of the 3rd Brigade. After a short period of training at Blackboy Hill he boarded the SS Ascanius for further training at Camp Mena in Egypt. His service record contains little detail but the Australian War Memorial Website states;

The 3rd Brigade was the covering force for the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 and so was the first ashore [at Gallipoli] at around 4:30 am. Ten days after the landing, a company from the 11th Battalion mounted the AIF’s first raid of the war against Turkish positions at Gaba Tepe. Subsequently, the battalion was heavily involved in defending the front line of the Anzac beachhead.

Jack’s military record states he received a gunshot wound to the foot during the Battle of the Dardenelles on 14 May 1915 (although one record says 3 May). He was hospitalised and then honourably discharged and returned to Australia on 15 August 1915, exactly twelve months from when he enlisted. He received the 1914−1915 Star, the Victory medal and the British War Medal.

Years between the Wars

Upon his return Jack married Rose Mary Macdonald (also known as Rose Carlin Macdonald) at the Perth Registry Office on 17 August 1916, a year after his return. It is thought that they may have met through their love of singing. Jack worked as a tram conductor before returning to his previous occupation of an iron turner. Most of Jack’s family left Western Australia during the 1920s as they could not find work during the GreatDepression, the majority going to New Zealand where there was extended family.

Jack and Rose lived in Maylands, Western Australia and had six boys between 1917 and 1934: John Macdonald, Ronald William, James, Gerald, Frank and Alec. Sometime during the 1930s Jack and Rose ran a corner store on William Street, Highgate before divorcing in 1939. Jack then married Madeline Alice Shaw on 14 December 1939. They initially lived in Leederville before moving to Lower Chittering in the early 1940s.

They had three children between 1939 and 1943: Edgar John, Margaret Rose and John William.

World War Two

Jack, along with his five eldest sons, separately enlisted during World War Two. He enlisted on 29 March 1942 and joined the No. 3 Swan Battalion but was medically discharged on 15 September. His record simply states “medically unfit”.

Family legend has it that a son who was too young to enlist tried to do so and Jack foiled his attempt by advising the authorities of his son’s age.

This led to the son deciding he would stop his father from involvement by making the details of his foot injury from the First World War known to the authorities so that he would be discharged.

Later Years

railtrail_trainJack and Madeline appear to have retired to Denmark close to where Jack would have lived when he first immigrated to Australia. The 1949 and 1954 electoral rolls show him as a pensioner but it appears that he was also having another go at farming as his death certificate lists him as a farmer.

Jack died on 31 March 1955 from Coronary Thrombosis.

Eight of his nine children survived him, Edgar being the only child to pre-decease him. Unfortunately, it appears that his two families knew little of each other.

They can all be proud, however, that Jack was willing to stand up for his country each time a war was declared and his country needed him.



Researched and written by Judy Purkiss, great-granddaughter-in-law of John Edward Hill.