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James Hill was born in Londonderry in 1888, the 6th of James and Anna Frances Young’s seven children. By 1892 they are in Bromley, James snr. having taken over the coach building company of James Ker Hunter. He would become one of the leading suppliers of body work for Rolls Royce. James Hill worked for his father as a secretary.
At the outbreak of was James applied for a commission in the West Kents, but rather than wait he joined up in the 1st London Scottish. When his commission came through he was happy in the ranks so he declined it. Very soon he was promoted Lance Corporal, Corporal and Sergeant, and for a considerable time he was kept in England training men for the Front. Then he was offered a commission in the 1st London Scottish, which he at first declined, but eventually accepted. After training he was sent to France. His first engagement was on the 1st July 1916, he led his platoon of 35 men over the parapet. They advanced under the cover of a cloud of smoke prepared for them by the artillery and found themselves face to face with the Prussian Guards. Then, to use the words of those in it, “it was hell for eight hours.” James’ batman was killed at his side and after having captured a considerable portion of ground they had to retire as their ammunition was running out. Only eight of the thirty five men returned, James was slightly injured. He was in several other engagements and was promoted to Lieutenant.
When the Royal Flying Corps asked for volunteers James answered the call. After training he was again sent to France where he flew as an observer. He was home for Christmas 1917. Early in January 1918, while patrolling his plane was brought downtwo miles inside German lines, where it was seen to land safely. On 15th January his father received a German Government card, written by James, stating that he was a prisoner of war and was wounded. The War Office confirmed that James had died on 17th January.
The Rev F W Armstrong at Bromley Presbyterian Church said of him “ Hill Young was by temperament reserved, with the reserve not of coldness, but of shy and sensitive spirit that shrinks from prominence and publicity. His feelings were deep, and found expression more readily in deeds than in words.” He had been a librarian in the Sunday School, a member of the choir and treasurer of the Mens’ Friendly.
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