A Collection of Medals to the 13th Regiment and Somerset Light Infantry

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Date of Auction: 2nd April 2004

Sold for £290

Estimate: £250 - £300

A fine Great War Somme operations M.M. awarded to 2nd Lieutenant R. V. E. Hill, Middlesex Regiment, late Somerset Light Infantry, who used his Lewis gun to good effect over a 36 hour period in September 1916

Military Medal, G.V.R. (11198 Pte. R. V. E. Hill, 7/Som. L.I.) edge bruise, otherwise nearly extremely fine £250-300


M.M. London Gazette 21 December 1916.

Ralph Victor Eugene Hill, who was born in June 1897 at Shirehampton, near Bristol enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in September 1914. Posted to the 7th Battalion, he first entered the French theatre of war in July 1915, where he joined ‘B’ Company Lewis Gun Section (service record refers).

Hill was awarded his M.M. for great bravery and initiative in the use of his Lewis gun during an attack mounted by the 7th Battalion in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 16 September 1916. The regimental history states:

‘ ... Brilliant as was this bombing affair, it was outshone by the extraordinary gallantry of Private Hill (also of B Company, and a Lewis gunner). With another man of his section, Hill pushed forward with the gun to a new position some 60 yards in front of the Battalion’s most advanced posts. For no less than 36 hours Hill held on to his post, at one time, with his comrade taking a prominent part in breaking up a hostile counter-attack, by bringing enfilade fire on the attackers. He fought on and on until at last, his comrade being killed and his ammunition exhausted, he picked up his gun and empty magazines and retired to where he imagined the Battalion to be, only to find that it had been relieved 12 hours previously. Eventually he rejoined the Battalion at Talus Boise ...’

A brief account of Hill’s galllant deeds on the Somme also appeared in the Bristol Observer of 16 December 1916.

However, during a Battalion attack on “Rainbow” and “Cloudy” trenches on 7 October, he was seriously wounded in the fingers, and underwent hospital treatment at Etaples and Rouen before returning to his unit in late December.

In March 1917 he was sent home to obtain a commission, and in September was duly appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion, Middelsex Regiment. Hill appears to have come through the rest of the War unscathed.