Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Hill, MBE, MC,
Death of decorated war hero
ONE of Bury's most decorated soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Hill, MBE, MC, has died. He was aged 82.
Lt Col Hill, was born in Bury in 1922 and attended Bury Grammar School.
In the senior school he was a keen member of the Officer Training Corp which came under the auspices of the Lancashire Fusiliers, the Regimental depot then being based at Wellington Barracks in the town.
Mr Hill was destined to follow in his father's footsteps and commenced studies at Manchester University where he was a member of the Senior Training Corps.
He decided to enlist and after officer training was commissioned into the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1941, joining the 2nd Battalion (2LF) in North Africa.
As part of the famous 78th (Battle Axe) Infantry Division, 2LF was engaged in heavy fighting in Tunisia. During December 1942, the battalion was not engaged in any particular major action, instead it devoted itself to patrolling, covered between eight and ten miles at night. Mr Hill became famous for organising these patrols and was awarded the American Bronze Star.
In due course, the 78th was engaged in the siege and capture of Monte Cassino in Italy. On the night of May 16, C Company, commanded by Mr Hill, were in the attack when the Germans counter-attacked with tanks and infantry. One LF platoon was wiped out and the others were in dire danger.
Then occurred one of those outstanding heroic deeds: Fusilier Frank Jefferson picked up a PIAT and, disregarding heavy fire, ran forward within a few yards of the leading German tank and fired at it. The tank broke into flames and its crew were killed. The other tanks withdrew. C Company, with fewer than 50 men left, was able to consolidate on its objective and took many prisoners. Fus Jefferson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his act of heroism. Mr Hill was awarded the Military Cross for the way in which he led his Company in the fighting.
During the remainder of the Italian campaign the battalion was deeply engaged in fighting, apart from a period of rest and training in the Canal Zone, Egypt, between June and September 1943.
At the end of the war, Mr Hill took a regular army commission and served as Adjutant and Training Major to the Territorial Army's 5th Battalion LFs, in Bury.
He returned to active service with 1LF and served in Kenya, Cyprus and Germany. In 1964 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took command of 1LF, serving during the troublesome period in British Guyana. He was then awarded the MBE.
He also served on secondment to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, as Deputy Assistant General to the UK Land Forces, and as military attache in Saigon, Vietnam.
On his retirement from the active list he was appointed as Quartering Officer at Headquarters North West District at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, where he made his first permanent home. He always claimed that he should end his active career dealing with building work and property for which he was originally destined had it not been for the war.
Mr Hill remained active after his retirement. He was Honorary Colonel of Bury Grammar School's Combined Cadet Force, where he participated in field days and annual camp, and was involved with the ATC in Leyland. Until last year, he was chairman of the Lancashire Fusiliers' Compassionate Fund.
Mr Hill died peacefully in Preston Royal Infirmary
on Sunday after a period of declining health