b. 24/05/1895 Manchester. d. 17/02/1971 Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Albert Hill (1895-1971) was born at Hulme, Greater Manchester on 24th May 1895. His father was Thomas Hill, whose profession was a coal miner. His mother, Elizabeth nee Pegg, was a charwoman. They married in 1869 at Lichfield, Staffordshire. Albert had at least nine siblings. One of his brothers was killed in action on the Somme and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Albert was educated at Trinity Wesleyan School, Denton, Manchester. He was employed at Alpha Mill and then as an apprentice hat maker with Messrs Joseph Wilson & Sons Ltd, in Denton. Albert enlisted on 3rd August 1914 and went to France on 27th September 1915, with his brother Joseph, sailing from Dover on SS Onward. The Battalion arrived at Hooge on 15th October.
On 20th July 1916, during the Somme Offensive, when 15280 Private Hill's battalion had been deployed under heavy fire, for an attack on the enemy in Delville Wood, France, the order to charge was given and he dashed forward. He met two of the enemy and bayoneted them both. Later, he was sent by his platoon sergeant, Hugh Green, to contact the enemy, and found himself cut off, being surrounded by over twenty Germans. He threw two hand grenades, killing and wounding about eighteen and scattering the remainder. He then joined a sergeant of his company and helped him to fight the way back to the lines. When he got back, hearing that his Company Officer, Captain Scales, and a scout were lying out wounded, he went out and assisted to bring in the mortally wounded Officer, two other men bringing in the scout. Finally, he himself captured two of the enemy and brought them in as prisoners. His conduct throughout was magnificent.
He received his VC ribbon from Brigadier General RJ Kentish DSO at Enquin-les-Mines at the same time as Corporal Joseph Davies, on 30th September 1916. The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 18th November 1916. Albert received a hero’s welcome on his return to Denton on 12th October 1916 and was thereafter known as “Denton’s VC” or the “Hatters VC”. He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre on 9th December 1916. Albert also served as an orderly to Lieutenant William Murrell Lummis MC, who later became an early researcher into the VC.
Albert was demobilised on 16th February 1919 and returned to his pre-war job. On 14th February 1920 he married Doris May nee Wilson at St George’s Church, Hyde. She was a cardroom operative. They decided to emigrate to the United States on 12th May 1923 aboard RMS Scythia for Boston, Massachusetts, arriving on 21st May. They settled at Central Falls for ten years before moving to Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1933. They were naturalised as Americans in 1944. They had four children – Joan, Lawrence, Hazeldean and Joyce.
Albert was employed as a bricklayer’s labourer with HM Soule Construction Company. He tried to enlist during the Second World War, but was advised to do defence work instead. He attended the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June 1953 and during his stay in Britain went back to Denton on 3rd July.
Albert died at Pawtucket Memorial Hospital, Rhode Island on 17th February 1971 and is buried in Highland Memorial Park, Pawtucket. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 and the French Croix de Guerre 1915 with Bronze Palme. His VC is held by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS MUSEUM, CAERNARFON, WALES.
BURIAL PLACE: HIGHLAND MEMORIAL PARK, JOHNSTON, RHODE ISLAND, USA.
Picture - Thomas Stewart
Memorial Garden, Denton, Manchester
Delville Wood Memorial, France.
Buried in Buttonwood Division, Section K, Lot 196, Grave 1.
Manchester Regiment Museum Plaque
War Illustrated, 14th October 1916
War Illustrated, 14th October 1916
Manchester Cenotaph (courtesy of Steve Hoar)