Taunton Courier 20 Apr 1932 Death of Mr Walter HILL Quartermaster of Somerset V.A.D. Valued Ambulance Worker

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Taunton Courier. Bristol and Exeter Journal, and Western Advertiser Wednesday 20 Apr 1932

Page 7 Column 6





A very active and unselfish life, largely spent for many years in the service of the sick and suffering, has been brought to a close by the death of Quartermaster Walter HILL, of Somerset 23 (Taunton Men's), V.A.D., British Red Cross Society, who passed away early on Sunday week at the Taunton and Somerset Hospital. Mr. HILL, who was aged 58, had been in hospital since March 26th suffering from a serious internal malady, and was operated upon on Monday, the 4th inst. He came through the operation satisfactorily, but later in the week pneumonia developed, and this caused his death. Prior to his admission to the hospital he had been unwell only a few weeks.


The news of Mr. HILL's death has been received with sincere regret by Taunton people generally and by all who have knowledge of his devoted service in the Red Cross movement, and of his generously-given help in many other directions. His life has been full of good work, quietly and cheerfully undertaken without any self-seeking, and much of it at the sacrifice of personal advantage.

A Devonshire man, Mr. HILL was born at Torquay, where his father was formerly in business as a cider dealer. He worked with his father in his youth, and later moved to Yeovil, where he started business on his own account. A few years later he removed to Taunton and started the bottle dealing business he had since carried on at Coal Orchard. He married in 1894. He had been a member of the Rational Association Friendly Society since 1896, and not long after coming to Taunton he was elected Chairman of the Taunton branch, a position he held up to the time of his death, close upon 30 years.


It was in 1911 that Mr. HILL became a Red Cross worker, and last year he was awarded the King's Red Cross medal for 20 years' continuous service. He held the War Service medal for voluntary work during the Great War, when he acted as transport officer to the Somerset 23 V.A.D. for the Taunton Red Cross Hospital. Fellow-workers of that period well remember how zealously Mr. HILL laboured on behalf of the wounded soldiers, and his readiness to co-operate with every effort of their comfort and entertainment. His transport organisation, always adequate and efficient, enabled many a wounded Tommy to have a happy evening out of hospital when invited to attend concerts at the Scouts' Soldiers' Recreation-rooms (Victoria-rooms).


All stages of first aid, ambulance work, and home nursing has been studied by Mr. HILL with a thoroughness that was his great characteristic, and as quartermaster of his Detachment he took a very active share in the training of recruits. During the many years he had engaged in this work he had helped to train hundreds of men for the various examinations in first-aid, hygiene, sanitation, and home nursing. Since the war the average attendance at the first-aid lectures has been 25, including a number of A.A. Scouts. He had been quartermaster of the Detachment for nearly 19 years. After the war period he continued to serve as transport officer, and he undertook the charge of the Taunton Red Cross motor-ambulance. A day and night service has been provided, Quartermaster HILL's home at 33, William-street, his stores, and his son's home nearby, being linked up by telephone circuit, thereby enabling either the father or the son (Sergt. Leslie HILL) to immediately respond at any hour of the day or night to calls for the ambulance. The provision of the ambulance has met a growing need in recent years, owing to the increase in road accidents and the greater appreciation of the proper handling of sick persons for removal to hospital. Taunton has, therefore, good reason to be grateful to the men of the V.A.D. who devote themselves to this merciful work. The ambulance has also been out ready for duty at race meetings and steeplechases in the district.


Old friends of Mr. HILL can recall to mind with pleasure some of his many activities as a younger man, including the successful dancing classes he conducted in association with the late Mr. Roy THOMAS and Mr. Walter HOPPING. Thomas, Hill, and Hopping's dances were at one time very popular among the young people of Taunton. Mr. HILL could well teach dancing in the old style, of which he was a master. Dancing was a pastime of which he never tired, and he continued to follow the old style dances, attending those held in recent seasons at the G.W.R. Social Hall.

A good friend of St. Andrew's parish Mr. HILL was a valued helper at fetes and bazaars. In the building of St. Andrew's Hall he was one of the men who voluntarily undertook labour of excavating and the levelling of the adjacent land. His practical sympathy in the cause of charity made him a very useful member of the Taunton Carnival Committee, and some of the displays he turned out for the processions were excellent. The former Soldiers' Home also received his generous assistance in the provision of entertainment, or by giving help in the bar. His genial personality will be sadly missed by all who knew him, and deep symapthy <sic> will go out to his widow and son in their bereavement.



Impressive tributes to the memory of the late Quartermaster HILL were paid by members of the Taunton Men's V.A.D. and others at the funeral on Thursday afternoon. The Rev. D. ELIAS (curate) conducted the service in St. Andrew's Church, and the committal rites at the graveside were performed by the Rev. F. E. SPURWAY, vicar of St. John's.

The Red Cross workers, in full uniform, walked in front of the motor hearse from Mr. HILL's residence to the church, and afterwards through the town to St. Mary's Cemetery, the streets being lined by large numbers of reverent townspeople. Resting on the coffin were the late Quartermaster's uniform cap and belt, between choice floral tributes from the bereaved family. The old Ford Red Cross ambulance, in which Mr. HILL had driven many hundreds of patients to hospital followed at the rear of the procession.


The family mourners were:- Mrs. HILL (widow); Mr. and Mrs. W. L. G. HILL (son and daughter-in-law); Mr. A. HILL, Bayswater (brother); Mr. and Mrs. STOKES, Plymouth (brother-in-law and sister); Mr. and Mrs. E. NOTT, Newton Abbot (brother-in-law and sister); Mr. and Mrs. E. HILL, Torquay (brother and sister-in-law); Miss L. HILL, Torquay (sister); Mr. and Mrs. INSTRELL (brother-in-law and sister); Mr. and Mrs. J. HILL, Torquay (brother and sister-in-law); Mr. and Mrs. L. G. TOWNSEND, Mr. H. TOWNSEND, and Miss Ada TOWNSEND (Taunton), and Messrs. H. HAWES and A. STAMP, Torquay (old friends).

While the mourners were assembling at the church the Organist, Mr. Harold SKINNER, played “O Rest in the Lord” and Walford Davies' “Solemn Melody.” The large congregation sang, very feelingly, “Now the labourer's task is o'er.” and the Lesson was read by Mr. R. H. ROWLAND, Assistant Commandant of the V.A.D. Mr. SKINNER rendered the Dead March in Saul at the close of the service.


Among those present were Brig.-General H. C. FRITH, formerly county director of the British Red Cross Society, who also represented the present County Director, Colonel ALLFREY; Mr. P. M. MOSSMAN (secretary of the Taunton and District Ambulance Committee); Mr. J. J. STACEY (secretary) and Mr. F. J. SHORT, representing the Taunton and Somerset Hospital; Mr. C. J. LEE (secretary) and Mr. F. L. RICHARDS, representing the Rational Association Friendly Society; Miss WHITE, Mr. and Mrs. H. LUXTON, Messrs. Guy N. PEARLESS, Frank BRYANT, A. G. NOCK, E. ROWSELL, George PRING, E. E. BURGESS, Police Sergt. COMER and Constable ROBERTSON. Many members of St. Andrew's Church and congregation were also present.

Mr. S. WHITE (Commandant) and Mr. R. H. ROWLAND (Assistant Commandant) attended with the following members of Somerset 23:- Messrs. C. AMOR, F. BOND, W. G. CLARKE, - COLLARD, J. CAVE, E. CULVER, D. HAWKINS, P. J. HARDING, G. LAVEROCK, H. MATTRAVERS, N. ALLEN, J. NEWTON. - SUMMERS, T. PARRETT, S. OATEN, T. SELLICK, and the following, who acted as bearers:- Messrs. C. PRING, - CANN, S. PERKINS, C. ROSEWARNE, G. MAPLEDORAM, and A. J. HUXTABLE. Former members also in attendance were Messrs. G. PRING (section leader), W. H. HALL, - GRANT, and H. CHIDGEY, Sister CHAMBERS, late lady superintendent of Somerset 106, was also present.

The Ford ambulance was driven by Mr. STUDLEY, by kind permission of Messrs. Hedges, Ltd.; and Messrs. Allen & Son kindly provided a driver, Mr. EAST, for the Service ambulance in case of need during the funeral.


Beautiful floral tokens were sent by the following:- Mrs. HILL and family; Arthur and son, London; Clara, Albert and family, Plymouth; Emily and Walter, Newton Abbot; Edwin and Alice, Torquay; Laura, Nellie, and Charlie, Muriel and Stanley, Torquay; Jim, Florrie, and Lily, Torquay; Lewis, Nell, Harold, and Ada, Taunton; May and Lew (niece and nephew) and Robert (brother-in-law), Torquay; Charolette and Jack, Torquay; Fred, Jennie and family, Widdecombe; Des., Emily, and Harold, Torquay; Officers and members of Taunton Men's V.A.D., Somerset 23, B.R.C.S., “An affectionate tribute to this sterling Quartermaster and great friend”; Taunton and District Ambulance Committee; Mr. STUDLEY, who also drove the ambulance van; Officers and members of Taunton Women's, 106, V.A.D; Old War-time Comrades Red Cross, H. CHIDGEY, T. GRANT, H. LEWIS, G. PRING, A. F. WESTBROOK; Officers and men, Taunton Division Somerset Police; Patient of Conservator Ward, Taunton and Somerset Hospital; Mr. and Mrs. ROBERTS, Taunton; Mr. and Mrs. LUXTON, Taunton; Mr. SAUNDERS and family, Taunton; Council Yard, Electric Light Pals, and Neighbours, Coal Orchard, Denmark-place; H. HAWES and A. STAMP, Torquay; Neighbours of William-street, Taunton; Mr. and Mrs. PHILEUS?, Bishop's Lydeard; A. A. Patrol, Taunton Division; W. H. HALL, Taunton; A. E. HEDGES, Taunton; Mr. and Mrs. PARRATT, Taunton; G. W. R. Social Hall Old-time Dancers, Taunton; Mr. and Mrs. COMER and family; Mr. and Mrs. LAVEROCK, also Les., Dorothy, and Jack, Taunton; Mr. and Mrs. E. WILLIAMS; Sister CHAMBERS, Bishop's Hull; Mr. and Mrs. C. J. LEE and Kenneth; Miss D. REED, Taunton; Mr. Jim LAND, Minehead; Mr. and Mrs. SKINNER, Taunton; Mr. H. H. WESTCOTT, Bishop's Hull; Mrs. REYNOLDS, Taunton.

The funeral arrangements were entrusted to Mr. E. E. WHITE, East Reach, Taunton.

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