When Gilbert Hill enlisted in January 1916 he was the only surviving son of Thomas Baird and Selina (Lena) Hill. Eric, their youngest, died of dysentery at nine months of age, and Herbert, their eldest, had died of appendicitis in 1913, aged just 17.
Gilbert was educated at Orange Public School, where he served three years in Senior Cadets and two years in the Militia. In August 1914 he was appointed as a porter at Orange Railway Station. He enlisted five months later, aged 18, though he claimed to be 21 on his attestation papers.
Gilbert embarked in April 1916 aboard HMAT Nestor, a private in the 30th Battalion, 6th Reinforcement. He served for three years in England and on the Western Front. He was hospitalised on two occasions with trench foot, which saw him transferred to hospital in England, followed by lengthy periods of furlough to enable his recovery.
In August 1918 Gilbert sustained a gunshot wound to the right arm. He was again evacuated to hospital in England, and embarked for return to Australia early in the new year. Gilbert arrived in Sydney in February 1919 and was discharged from the AIF in April.
Gilbert returned to Orange and became an orchardist. Like his father Tom, Gilbert excelled at rifle shooting; he would regularly travel to Sydney and interstate to compete. In 1920 he won the King’s Cup and King’s Prize in Brisbane, where he competed against a British team. In the final round he shot seven consecutive bull’s eyes from a distance of 900 yards.
In February 1923 Gilbert married Barbara Fitzgerald; the couple had four children – Isabel, John (Jack), Evelyn and Gerald. Gilbert passed away in May 1959, and now, many years later, his descendants still live at the property opposite the Orange Rifle Range.
Gilbert is commemorated on Orange High School Roll of Honour and St John’s Presbyterian Church Orange Honour Roll.