Bombardier Henry Traverse Hill – B 143211 — ACTIVE SERVICE (World War II)
On February 25, 1943 Henry “Harry” Traverse Hill completed the Attestation Paper for the Royal Canadian Artillery, in Toronto, Ontario. He was 37 years, 3 months and 18 days old when, as a single man, he enlisted for the duration of the War. Harry Traverse was born in Lakefield Ontario and gave his birth-date as November 7, 1906. He indicated that he did not have any previous Military Reserve experience, although he had spent 4 years in the High School Cadets. He lists his educational background as having completed Grade XII at the Lakefield High School and 1 year Normal School (Teacher’s College) in Peterborough, Ontario. Harry Traverse’ previous employer was the Village of Lakefield, where he worked as a Tax Collector for 7 years. Harry was 5′ 5” tall, weighed 138 pounds, and had hazel eyes and brown hair. He was deemed fit for service (category A-1). Harry’s, next-of-kin, is listed as his brother, Joseph Richard Hill, living at 230½ Charlotte Street in Peterborough. Harry Traverse Hill signed the Oath and Attestation Certificate on February 25, 1943 at No 11 Recruiting Centre, Toronto. He was enrolled and assigned the rank of Gunner (Gnr) in the Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) with Service Number B 143211.
On February 25, 1943 Gnr Hill was taken-on-strength with No 2 District Depot (DD) Active Force (AF) Toronto, with the Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA), Anti-Aircraft Mobile (AA Mob), No 1 Company (Coy), R Wing, RCA. March 12, 1943 he was struck-off-strength from No 2 DD (AF) to No 26 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre (CABTC), in Orillia, Ontario. On March 13, 1943 Gnr Hill was taken-on-strength with No 26 CABTC on transfer from No 2 DD (AF). On May 13, 1943 Gnr Hill was struck-off-strength from 26 CABTC. May 14, 1943 he was taken-on-strength with the Coastal Defence Anti-Aircraft Advanced Training Centre (CD AA ATC), (A 23 ATC) at Elkin’s Barracks, Halifax, Nova Scotia and attached for all purposes to “C” Battery. On June 25, 1943, he was granted an increase in pay of 10 cents a day. On July 16, 1943 at the CD AA ATC, (A 23 ATC) at Elkin’s Barracks; Captain J.F. Lovett – Army Examiner, indicated that “Gunner Hill is considered suitable for Overseas service”. On July 20, 1943, Gnr Hill was struck-off-strength from CD AAATC on proceeding Overseas. The same day he embarked from Halifax and was struck-off-strength from the Canadian Army (Canada). July 21, 1943 Gnr Hill was taken-on-strength with the Canadian Army (Overseas). After a 9-day voyage, as part of an Allied Convoy, he disembarked in the United Kingdom (UK) on July 28, 1943 and was taken-on-strength with No 3 Canadian Armour Reinforcement Unit (CARU) July 29, 1943. August 25, 1943 he was granted the daily rate of pay of $1.50.
On September 9, 1943 Gnr Hill was struck-off-strength from No 3 CARU and on September 10, 1943 he was taken-on-strength with the 7th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (LAAR) RCA. Gnr Hill was struck-off-strength from the 7th LAA R on November 28, 1943 and assigned to No 3 CARU for the purpose of attending a Clerk Course. November 30, having completed the course, he was taken-on-strength with No 1 Canadian General Reinforcement Unit (CGRU). On January 6, 1944, Gnr Hill is considered qualified in the position of Clerk “C”. On January 8, 1944 he is struck-off-strength from No 1 CGRU and taken-on-strength with No 3 Canadian Armour Reinforcement Unit (CARU) on January 9, 1944. On January 27, 1944 he is struck-off-strength from No 3 CARU and taken-on-strength with the 7th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (LAAR). January 29, 1944 Gnr Hill is granted Trades Pay Clerk “C’. On March 17, 1944 Gnr Hill is struck-off-strength from the 7th LAAR and on March 18, 1944 he is taken-on-strength with the 8th LAAR, as a Clerk “C”.
July 20, 1944 Gnr Hill embarked at England and disembarked in France July 26, 1944 along with the rest of the 8th LAAR. The 8th LAAR was assigned to the 101st Light Anti-Aircraft Battalion (LAABn) – 4th Canadian Armoured Division. Contrary to the designation of Light Anti-Aircraft, the Unit actually provided Artillery and Anti-tank support to the Allied advance through France, Belgium, and Germany. Initially, upon arrival in France, the Unit was held in reserve, until after the battle for Caen. The Unit’s first engagement in combat came August 8, 1944 as part of Operation Totalize.
Operation Totalize was launched by the 4th Canadian and Polish Armoured Divisions with the intention to break through the German Lines, south of Caen, and seize the high ground north of the city of Falaise, thus causing a collapse of the German Line and ease the pressure on the American and British Armies. They were to advance, together, on either side of the Caen–Falaise highway employing tank and infantry battle groups supported by Self-Propelled Guns and Medium Artillery Units (8 LAAR).
Force Worthington was comprised of the 28th Canadian Armoured Regiment (CAR) [British Columbia Regiment] and three Companies from The Algonquin Regiment under the Command of Lieutenant Colonel (LCol) Don Worthington of the 28th CAR. The Force set out for Hill 195 but, unfortunately, during the night Force Worthington got lost and ended up at Hill 140, not Hill 195, some 6 kilometres (almost 4 miles) east of their original destination. At dawn L/Col Worthington sent a radio message, to Headquarters, in essence stating: “we have reached our objective and have taken up defensive positions, will wait for the other elements to take up their positions before advancing”. They quickly found themselves engaged in a major battle with elements of the 12th SS Panzer Division equipped with 5 Tiger and 15 Panther Tanks. As the battle raged and losses mounted, Force Worthington called for close artillery support.
Unfortunately, the Officers didn’t realize that they were at the wrong location and as such the co-ordinates they gave to the 8th LAAR were for Hill 195. Reports indicate the artillery support provided was extremely accurate for the co-ordinates given. Throughout the day of battle several attempts were made by radio to clarify Force Worthington’s exact location, but to no avail, finally all communication ceased. The men, of Force Worthington, quickly learned the realities of War. Despite being inexperienced (this was the first battle engagement for the 28th CAR) and suffering horrendous losses, the men adapted as best they could to the circumstances and through sheer determination fought on until the only option left was to surrender. In this battle LCol Worthington was killed, 47 of the 52 Cromwell tanks were destroyed and the three Companies were decimated; 240 young Canadian men had been killed, badly wounded, or taken prisoner. Following this battle the highway from Caen to Falaise became known as the “Corridor of Death”. It should be noted that although this engagement was considered “a missed opportunity” for the Canadians, it did relieve the pressure on the other Allied Forces, in the area.
August 25, 1944 Gnr Hill was awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp. During the period of time from August 1944 to November 1945 there are no entries on his records; he would have been employed doing clerical work and Base duties. January 8, 1945 Gunner Hill was promoted in rank to Lance Bombardier (L/Bdr). On May 10, 1945 L/Bdr Hill was granted 11 days paid leave, with Ration Allowance, in the United Kingdom. A note on the file by a Lieutenant R Fletcher – 4th Canadian Armour Division, dated September 21, 1945 states: “An elderly man who seems well qualified to take care of his re-establishment (Discharge) with a minimum of trouble”. On November 1, 1945 L/Bdr Hill was promoted to Acting Bombardier (A/Bdr).
On December 11, 1945 A/Bdr Hill was struck-off-service from the 8th LAAR RCA. December 12, 1945 he was taken-on-strength to the X-8 List – Clerk “C” (Return to Canada List). December 18, 1945 A/Bdr Hill disembarked at England (he probably embarked in France December 17, 1945) and was struck-off-strength from the X-8 List and taken-on-strength with No 1 Canadian General Reinforcement Unit (No 1 CGRU). On December 29, 1945 A/Bdr Hill was struck-off-strength from No 1 CGRU and taken-on-strength with No 6 Canadian Repatriation Depot (CRD).
January 27, 1946 A/Bdr Hill was struck-off-strength from No 6 CRD and taken-on-strength with 996 Clearing Depot-Military District (CD-MD), No 4 Canadian Repatriation Depot (CRD). At the same time, A/Bdr Hill was granted 10 days leave with pay. February 1, 1946 A/Bdr Hill was granted 10 days Privileged Leave to February 10, 1946. February 14, 1946 he was struck-off-strength from the Canadian Army (Overseas) on embarkation at England. February 15, 1946 A/Bdr Hill was taken-on-strength from the Canadian Army (Overseas) and to the Canadian Army (Canada) and to S-8 Canadian Army Training School (CATS) in Hamilton, Ontario. February 22, 1946 he disembarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia and February 23, 1946 A/Bdr Hill was granted Disembarkation Leave, with a Ration Allowance of $0.50 per diem,to March 24, 1946.
March 30, 1946 A/Bdr Hill is struck-off-strength from S-8 CATS to No 2 District Depot in Toronto, Ontario. On March 31, 1946 he was taken-on-strength with the Rehabilitation Wing, No 2 District Depot, Toronto Ontario from S-8 CATS. A/Bdr Hill’s promotion to Bombardier (Bdr) was confirmed on April 1, 1946. On April 2, 1946 Bdr Hill’s Military Service came to an end when he was discharged from No 2 District Depot Canadian Army, Toronto, Ontario on demobilization. He was granted a Clothing Allowance of $100.00 and was awarded his Rehabilitation Grant.
Bombardier Harry Hill would have been awarded the following Medals:
1939 – 1945 Star;
France and Germany Star;
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp; and
War Medal 1939 – 45.
He was also awarded War Service Badge – Class “A” — Number 561867
Bombardier Harry Traverse Hill served in Canada for 6 months, 1 week and 4 days, in the United Kingdom 1 year and 1 month and 3 weeks, and in France for 1 year, 4 months and 3 weeks. In total, Bombardier Hill served from February 25, 1943 until April 2, 1946 the date on his Discharge Certificate. This totals 3 year, 1 month and 6 days of service, including travel time.
Bombardier Hill’s Short Account of Service, Training and Duties states that he had: “6 months Service in Canada; completed training in LAA (RCA); 31 months in UK and NWE (North West Europe); completed 4 weeks course, qualifying as Clerk Group “C” and was employed as a Clerk in the Orderly Room for 18 months and for 6 months as a Clerk in Quarter Masters (QM) Stores. He was promoted to L/Bdr Jan 45, A/Bdr Nov 45″.
Harry Traverse Hill died May 5, 1975 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough Ontario and was buried May 7, 1975 in Lakefield Cemetery.
An excerpt from an article in Maclean’s magazine by Barbara Ameil, September 1996:
The Military is the single calling in the world with job specifications that include a commitment to die for your Nation. What could be more honorable?
HENRY TRAVERSE HILL
Henry Traverse was born November 7, 1906 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough Ontario. Henry’s birth registration has him named as Henry Traverse Hill but he always went by “Harry”.
An excerpt from Harry’s Military File states that Lieutenant Haynes, the Examining Officer, said “in part” the following about Harry Hill: “this man is well set-up, and appears strong and durable. Hill seems a very friendly person; he chatted affably, answered questions fully and fluently, and, in short, was co-operative and responsive. There seems no reason to believe he is other than stable and reliable. This man has high ability, and should have no difficulty in absorbing training, however difficult.
Though the recruit played some hockey and baseball when younger, he has not been active in sports recently. Special interests are horticulture and woodworking. He reads a good deal, but his tastes are general rather than particular. Hill stated that he was eager to be in uniform and had his invalid parents not prevented it, he would have enlisted earlier. His high intelligence and ability make him potential Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) and possibly Officer material”.
Harry also indicated that he was insured with Manufacturer’s Life Insurance Company.
Harry married Eva Violeta Hendren, born December 9, 1913 in 1948. Harry died May 5, 1975 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough Ontario and was buried May 7, 1975 in Lakefield Cemetery. Eva died October 30, 2008 in Extendicare Lakefield, Lakefield Ontario and was buried November 3, 2008 in Lakefield Cemetery beside Harry.
Following is a collection of memories of Eva and Harry by Helen Northey (Hill).
Memories of Eva Hendren & Harry T. Hill by Helen H. Northey (nee Hill)
Uncle Harry was my father’s youngest brother of 8 children. He also had a sister called Eva Hill who married Mel Kingdon, she was Mel’s first wife.
My father, Sherman Ernest Hill was a lockmaster. He drowned chipping ice off the lock 6 weeks before I was born. Uncle Harry’s mother, Maude Margaret, was bed ridden – paralyzed in both feet from a stroke. I only remember my Grandma in bed or in a wheel chair. She was like that for 15 years.
The two brothers still at home worked away – one in Frankford & the Other in Peterborough so Uncle Harry was left the job of looking after his mother & giving her medication.
I remember before Christmas, Tanner’s Drug Store had a contest. When you bought something, you could vote for someone to win one of the prizes. One of the prizes was a doll & I looked at it every day but never had any hope of winning it. Then the day before Christmas, my sister said, “Come, we have to go to the drugstore.” I had won the doll. When Uncle Harry picked up Grandma’s medication, he voted for me – that was three-quarters of my votes. I never forgot that day or Uncle Harry for his kindness.
Uncle Harry was a teacher but chose to take the job as Village Clerk so he could look after Grandma. Uncle Harry joined the army a while after my brothers, who joined at the same time. They were not stationed far from Uncle Harry overseas. When my brother “Jock” (Sherman Roger) was killed, he was there with “Jiggs” (Gordon Arthur), my other brother – Thank you Uncle Harry.
When Uncle Harry came home, he took back the job as Village Clerk from Elwood “Butts” Northey. I can still see him walking down the street with the newspaper under his arm & once in a while he would slap it on his leg.
A little while back, I was talking to Elgin Peters, Apsley Clerk. He told me that if he needed to know anything about township, village or county work. He would ask the Clerk in Lakefield – he didn’t need to look it up in a book – that was Uncle Harry.
Over at the telephone office, Eva Hendren was the operator and manager. None of us knew they were even seeing each other until Uncle Harry told us they were married. The only people that knew they were getting married were Grace Yonge & Frank Payne, who stood up for them. Uncle Harry sure could keep a secret. He had a mind of his own and that’s a thing that goes with being a “Hill”. I didn’t even know he could paddle a canoe until I saw him dressed in a suit and tie in his canoe with Aunt Eva, on a tape at Aunt Eva’s funeral – that was Uncle Harry.
Harry loved dogs and flowers and, of course, Aunt Eva. They had the most beautiful garden & yard. Aunt Eva & Uncle Harry were well matched. Aunt Eva was a lovely prim and proper lady and as Mel Kingdon said, Aunt Eva always had lunch ready for Uncle Harry – when the village lunch bell rang, he sat down.
I didn’t make it to his funeral but memories are still with me. After Uncle Harry died, my sister, Shirley and I went to visit Aunt Eva for her birthday. She was so happy to see us. Shortly after she went to the nursing home, I visited her every Armistice’s Day and visited when I could. She was still the prim and, proper lady until the day she died and it wasn’t until my last visit, she told me that I was Uncle Harry’s favourite niece. Uncle Harry could not have chosen a better person than Eva Hendren to be his wife.
A few more memories –
Harry was a kind and caring man. Harry Hill was in the army overseas during World War II & James “Jim” Franklin Karl Crowe served as an Air Gunner with the Canadian Air Force. He was shot down off the Dutch Coast & was buried in a cemetery in Holland. Jim Crowe was the adopted son of Lona nee Crowe and Bill Gray. While on leave instead of coming home, Harry went to Holland, found the cemetery where Jim Crowe was buried, took photos of the cemetery, the marker & the inscription on the marker and brought the photos back to Lona & Bill Gray.
Harry Hill had multiple jobs while Village Clerk – Treasurer, Assessor, Welfare Administrator, Electoral Officer, Building Inspector, Secretary of Lakefield Cemetery and Secretary of the Hydro Commission. He looked after all these duties himself; he didn’t have an assistant or secretary to help him.
Harry also looked after the poor and homeless – helping people like Cephas Little and Stan Windover – making sure they had a roof over their head. Also at Christmas time, Harry & Eva would take a Christmas dinner to the single old men of the village.
In 1966, Lakefield council tried to give Harry Hill a raise in salary to bring his wages up to par with other municipalities. Council put forth a motion and it was passed; however, Harry politely informed council that he and Eva were living quite comfortably and he enjoyed what he was doing so he saw no need to get a raise and refused to accept the increase in pay.
Harry never sought recognition or acclaim; in fact, he avoided it. It is interesting to note when the Examiner interviewed Reeve Jack Chittick and Harry Hill on his upcoming retirement, Jack Chittick asked Harry to share a few memories of his 36 years of service & Harry’s reply was, “No comment”. Another indication that he did not enjoy the limelight.
(Memories of Eva & Harry Hill were shared at the Lakefield Historical Society meeting on September 24, 2009)
THE HARRY TRAVERSE HILL FAMILY OF LAKEFIELD
Harry Traverse’ grandfather, Richard Hill, born about 1820 in England, died February 7, 1902 at 7 S. Bridge St., Lakefield. Richard married Elizabeth Langstaff, born about 1823, in England, died December 17, 1902 at 7 S. Bridge St., Lakefield. They married about 1842 in Canada, possibly in Dummer Township, Peterborough County, Ontario. Richard and Elizabeth had 10 children, 6 boys and 4 girls; Thomas Richard – born February 14, 1843, George Ulysses – born about 1852, Sarah – born about 1855, Samuel Alexander born about 1857, Jane T. – born about 1858, Annie – born about 1860, Roland – born about 1862, Wellington John – born April 15, 1864, Albert – born about 1868, and Ellen – born about 1874. Both Richard & Elizabeth are interred in Hillside Cemetery, Lakefield.
Harry Traverse’ father, Wellington John Hill, born April 15, 1864 in Dummer Township, Peterborough County married Rachel Ellen (Nellie) Crowe, born August 4, 1864, in Dummer Township, Peterborough County on October 1, 1886 in Lakefield Ontario. Wellington died March 12, 1942 in Lakefield Ontario, buried in Lakefield Cemetery. Nellie died June 25, 1940, in Lakefield Ontario, buried in Lakefield Cemetery.
Wellington John Hill and Rachel Ellen “Nellie” Crowe had 8 children, seven boys and one girl;
Roland Wellington was born on May 28, 1886 in Lakefield Ontario and he married Florence Lillian Sanderson on October 14, 1914 in Peterborough Ontario. Roland died March 7, 1961 in Lakefield Ontario and Florence died July 4, 1987 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough Ontario, both are buried in Lakefield Cemetery.
Sherman Ernest was born on September 13, 1890 in Lakefield Ontario and he married Maude Margaret Udey* on August 14, 1915. Sherman died on December 24, 1926 and is buried in Lakefield Cemetery.
Francis Bruce “Frank” was born on September 11, 1893 and he married Lucinda Freeburn on November 8, 1916 in Young’s Point Ontario. She was born on June 25, 1897 in Smith Township.
Joseph Richard was born on March 31, 1895 in Lakefield Ontario and died June 18, 1955 in Peterborough Ontario, buried in Lakefield Cemetery.
Percivale “Percy” Claude, born June 6, 1897 in Lakefield Ontario and married Esther Ann Marsden who was born on December 2, 1902 in Alnwick Township, Ontario. He died July 14, 1971 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough Ontario and is buried in Lakefield Cemetery.
Darcy Deyncourt was born on June 3, 1902 in Lakefield Ontario.
Eva Helen was born September 25, 1904 in Lakefield Ontario and married Melville Orville Kingdon about 1946. He was born November 28, 1906 in Peterborough Ontario. Eva died September 25, 1945 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough Ontario and Melville died November 17, 1972 in Peterborough Ontario, both are buried in Lakefield Cemetery.
Harry Traverse was born November 6, 1906 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough Ontario and married Eva Violeta Hendren in 1948 and she was born on December 9, 1913. Harry died May 5, 1975 in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough Ontario and Eva died October 30, 2008 in Extendicare Lakefield; both are buried in Lakefield Cemetery.
* Maude Margaret Udey married a “Connelly after Sherman Ernest Hill’s demise since Sherman Roger’s Military File indicates a “Shirley Patricia Connelly”, born about 1932, as a step-child.