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Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

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Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby Sucher » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:09 pm

Ernest Hilton served as a Bombardier in ‘C’ Company 174 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, raised in 1915 at Deptford, SE London. I have traced the company’s movements from 6 March 1916 when it arrived in France through the remainder of that year. On the 25 November 1916, it was located to the Ypres Salient in Belgium. I have found a register of movements relating to casualties arriving 23 January 1917 at Mendinghem clearing hospital showing that Ernest was admitted with a broken right thigh and transferred the same day to Wimereaux which is close to Boulogne. Mendinghem is about 14 miles north-east of Ypres – so that fits.

Ernest was sent back to England, by what means and when are not known however, what is known is that his last child was conceived around mid-November 1917. Ernest died at York Place Military Hospital, Brighton 9 May 1918. Causes of death according to the death certificate are (1) Fracture of Right femur – 2 months 19 days. (2) Acute pneumonia 3 days, there was no post mortem.

The puzzle is: Did Ernest break his leg again between 23 Jan 1917 and 20 Feb 1918, the approximate date of the wound indicated by the death certificate? Did he return to active service after his injury in early 1917? If not, why was he in a Military Hospital rather than a general hospital if unable to serve in the Army? Why was he in a hospital that had been adapted for wounded Indian soldiers? Have looked ay the obvious places and drawn blanks.

I would love to find out Ernest’s movements from 23 Jan 1917 but have drawn a blank. I’m helping my grandson put together a WW1 school project and would appreciate any suggestions and advice.

Thanks

Sucher
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby MoVidger » Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:52 pm

According to the book "Over the Top: A Digger's Story of the Western Front" by H. G. Hartnett, the York Place Military Hospital was a former girls' school which had been converted into a hospital early in the war.

"Several patients had been in the hospital for nine months or more, in bed all the time, suffering from badly broken legs". The book also mentions "how pneumonic influenza was raging at the time, and so the top floors of the York Place Hospital was made available for civilian patients. Many of the hospital staff contracted the flu, but not one soldier in the hospital caught the disease". This particular passage refers to summer 1918.

It doesn't answer all of your questions, possibly with the exception of why Ernest was in York Place Hospital. It appears to be a hospital which accommodated patients with serious leg injuries.
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby Sucher » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:00 pm

Thank you Mo, that’s good information, I will try to source the book

Much appreciated

Sucher
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby MoVidger » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:05 pm

I found the book online -- it's a Google book. Not all pages are available to read online, though. It sounds like the author was in the hospital when Ernest was there (see page 241 onwards).

His photo at this link: https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org ... ry/1886241

You've probably seen this record on FMP:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt Of Honour
First name(s) Ernest
Last name Hilton
Birth year 1892
Age 26
Death date 09 May 1918
Number L/38361
Rank Bombardier
Unit "C" Bty. 1 84Th Bde.
Regiment Royal Field Artillery
Grave reference Screen Wall. A. 1844.
Cemetery or memorial Brockley Cemetery
Burial country United Kingdom
Additional information Son of Charles and Martha Hilton; husband of Elizabeth Louisa Hilton, of 8, Deptford House, Broadway, Deptford, London. Born at Deptford.
Link https://www.cwgc.org/find/find-war-dead
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby Sucher » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:46 pm

Mmm, frustrating. The preview that I’ve seen has a large gap between pages 144 to 370 and beyond, the latter is later than the period covering York Place Hospital. I’ll carry on looking, Amazon is way too expensive but EBay have some copies. Thanks again.

Oops, yes I have the info from the CWGC. Looks like a visit to the Imperial War Museum is on the cards, that could reveal more general background information.

Sucher
Last edited by Sucher on Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby MoVidger » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:49 pm

I was able to read page 241+ by googling the title of the book along with "broken legs". That should get you to page 241, etc.
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby Sucher » Mon Dec 30, 2019 9:09 pm

Thank you! The extended search phrase opened up the relevant pages. Interestingly, Hartnett refers to the day before and the day after Ernest’s death. I’m familiar with the photo on the Imperial War Museum site, in fact it originated from me and was given to me by my mother, Ernest’s daughter. She was born two months after Ernest died. Several years ago, I attended a lecture by an historian from the IWM, she said that the impact of WW1 is still resonating strongly, how true.

Much appreciated

Sucher
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby MoVidger » Mon Dec 30, 2019 9:13 pm

It's a lovely photo. Glad you were able to access the relevant pages. Hartnett also talks about the passenger trains the patients were transported on (circa pages 238-240).
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:14 pm

Sucher wrote:... The puzzle is: Did Ernest break his leg again between 23 Jan 1917 and 20 Feb 1918, the approximate date of the wound indicated by the death certificate? Did he return to active service after his injury in early 1917? ... I would love to find out Ernest’s movements from 23 Jan 1917 but have drawn a blank. ...

It looks to me as if Ernest's detailed papers were among the 2/3 to 3/4 that were destroyed in the Arnside St warehouse fire in WW2 - unless you know better! The full story about his movements between the different medical and combat units would be on those papers. (You'll have to see if that WW2 fire can be referred to in your grandson's project - something like, "How do we know this? Well.... In some cases, we can't...")

Since the surviving medical records are just a tiny percentage of those created, we're lucky to have what you found - assuming that I'm right about his papers being burnt in WW2, then there are no other known records. In particular, we don't know if he went back on duty or not.

There are casualty reports in newspapers, etc, but I believe that they are done by OCR - the only practical way - and hence any reports of Ernest being a casualty a 2nd time could be OCRd as Hitton, Hilten, etc, etc. So not finding a 2nd report isn't that meaningful.

Judging by the comments above though, it seems like there's a good chance that he never returned to duty - but that's a very curious period of time - "Fracture of Right femur – 2 months 19 days" - isn't it? Could he have fallen in the hospital and broke it again?

So not many answers from me, I'm afraid, but so far as I can see you're not missing anything obvious.
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Re: Bombardier Ernest Hilton WW1

Postby avaline » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:01 am

Sucher wrote:The puzzle is: Did Ernest break his leg again between 23 Jan 1917 and 20 Feb 1918, the approximate date of the wound indicated by the death certificate? Did he return to active service after his injury in early 1917?


Ernest appeared on the Daily Casualty List on 23 Feb 1918:
HILTON 38361 Bdr. E (Deptford, S.E.)
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