October Last Post

A very moving Last Post as our Individual Remembrance featured a casualty from the recent Afghanistan conflict. We welcomed Mrs Claire Hill, mother of Lance Corporal James Hill.

The Ministry of Defence’s report described Lance Corporal Hill as an outstanding Junior Non-Commissioned Officer with excellent prospects. He started training in Autumn 2005 and passed out into the battalion in Spring 2006. He conducted state ceremonial duties in London District throughout the summer of 2006 from Windsor before moving to the Mortar Platoon in time for Exercise African Thorn in South Africa during early 2007.

Lance Corporal Hill then immersed himself in pre-deployment training for Operation HERRICK 7 in Afghanistan. He was quickly identified as an excellent mortarman and he soon became a No 1 in a section, the senior post for a mortar number. It was in this post that he deployed on Operation HERRICK 7 and he spent the tour in Forward Operating Base (FOB) Keenan with No 3 Company Group.

This was a busy tour and his mortar section was fully involved in numerous engagements in support of the company as they fought the enemy in that part of the Upper Gereshk Valley. After this highly successful tour he was sent on a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer’s cadre and passed with a very high standard.

In January 2009 he was sent on his Mortar Standards Course for which he received a ‘highly competent’ pass, proving his considerable abilities. He was again very involved with pre-deployment training prior to deploying as Mortar Fire Controller ‘B’ for No 1 Company Group.

Lance Corporal Hill was a personable, motivated and intelligent warrior. He nurtured those under his command whilst constantly striving to be better by learning from his superiors. He was enthusiastic and energetic about his job and was excited by the prospect of serving in Afghanistan as a Mortar Fire Controller. He was every ounce a model Coldstreamer.

Lieutenant Colonel Toby Gray, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, said of him: Lance Corporal Hill was, from the very start of his career, a soldier with the most outstanding qualities. His drive to be the best was constant and he was a man with commendable ambitions within the Army…..[he] was, quite simply, superb at everything he did. He was personable, intelligent, fit and ambitious. His humour, coupled with his energy, singled him out as a popular and respected Junior Non-Commissioned Officer.

Mrs Hill gave a passionate and very moving tribute to her son that really showed what a tragic loss he was to the family and friends.

We remembered Lance Corporal James Hill, aged 23 from Reigate, Surrey, killed in an explosion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 8th October 2009.

Our poem, appropriately penned by an anonymous veteran of the Coldstream Guards, was ‘I am a Guardsman’.

We also remembered a soldier buried at Brookwood who died 80 years ago today in 1940. Private Grenville Ingle’s life was one of total dedication and sacrifice to Canada and he distinguished himself honourably both in WWI and in WWII.

In attendance were representatives of the Surrey Chapter UK who joined us on their annual Memorial Day ride out. Fittingly, the daughter of a recently passed member read the Bikers Blessing.

The Brookwood Last Post Standard was paraded by Alan Lopez and the Last Post was sounded by Mrs Ruth Moore.

Credits: UK Ministry of Defence; Canadian Virtual War Memorial; RCMP graves web site, Paul McCue, Mrs Claire Hill and Kevin Barker.