This is a shortened version of an article on Tommy Hill by Trefor Roberts and Peter Kelsall that was published in Buckley Magazine No. 43 in 2018.
Driver Thomas Hill, Royal Army Service Corps, died in Italy 27 October 1944 age 22. He was buried at Assisi War Cemetery, Italy and is remembered on the Hawkesbury Memorial.
Thomas (Tommy) Hill was born in 1922, the son of Alfred and Annie Hill of 16 Mold Road, Buckley. Alfred was the son of Charles Hill a coal miner from Nant Mawr. He married Annie, also named Hill at the Free Church in Mold in February 1914. Annie Hill was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Hill shopkeepers at The Cross Buckley in 1911.
In addition to Tommy, Alfred and Annie had another son Charlie and four daughters: Winnie, Olwen, Mary and Annie. Winnie married William Dunsby in 1933. Mary married Joe Roberts in 1939 and is the mother of Trefor Roberts. Annie married Phillip Howells in 1941. Olwen married Eddie Billington in 1947. Tommy’s father Alfred died in 1927, and his mother in 1970.
The Hill family owned Hill’s Ironmongers situated on Mold Road between the police station and The Black Horse. Right is a photo of Tommy outside the shop aged 8 in 1930. Before joining up Tommy was a motor van driver for Messrs. T. Nield & Son grocers of Hawarden.
Tommy’s wartime service is known from letters home to his mother and sisters that have been preserved by Trefor Roberts and provided to the Buckley Society for transcription. Tommy joined the Army in December 1941 when he was 19 and was assigned to Heath Camp, Cardiff. He was later assigned to Boscombe, Hants and Woking, Surrey and by May 1942 he was in Cape Town, South Africa en route to Egypt. His later whereabouts are not always known because locations were censored but it appears he was in Egypt as part of Middle East Forces until about October 1943 when his address was changed to Central Mediterranean Forces. By this time the Allies had invaded mainland Italy in September 1943. The first reference that Tommy was in Italy came in April 1944 when he mentioned in a letter that he had seen the eruption of Vesuvius which of course is near Naples. (The last major eruption of Vesuvius was in 1944). Tommy had six days leave in Rome in August 1944; as Tommy wrote home “We won a football competition and were awarded a big shield and eleven little ones for each of the players. Our officer was so delighted that he allowed all the team to go to Rome for six days. It was my first chance of seeing the place and believe me it is wonderful”.
It appears that Tommy did not visit home any time after he left British shores in May 1942. Tommy’s last letter home was written October 1st, 1944.
Tommy was assigned as an ambulance driver with the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) which provided transport for a Motor Ambulance Convoy (MAC) operated by the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). The family learned that he was so exhausted after finishing a shift one night that, on the way back, he fell out of the ambulance. In the time it took for his disappearance to be noticed and for his whereabouts to be found, he had died.
The family has letters that reveal that his mother had great difficulty finding where he was buried. It later came to light that he was buried in a church yard near the hospital in Perugia. A memorial service was held back home at Bistre Church – the funeral card read “Interred somewhere in Italy”. His name is inscribed on the headstone of the family grave in Bistre Churchyard. The family has a condolence letter showing that Tommy had attended the Primitive Methodist Sunday School, Mill Lane.
Tommy was later interred at Assisi War Cemetery. While he lies in a foreign field, it is a beautiful location close to the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.