World War II was one of the most defining events of the 20th century, not only completely reshaping the world but having a lasting effect on generations to come. But with each passing year, WWII becomes increasingly part of the distant past: The Greatest Generation and the military veterans it spawned are dwindling in numbers — only around 160,000 were still alive in 2022. And when they’re gone, so too will be the memories they take with them.
However, WWII and the sacrifices service members made will never be forgotten. One late airman, Air Gunner Flight Sgt Ernest Hill, made sure his experiences from the war would live on forever, chronicling his experiences in both a scrapbook and flying log.
Both items, as well as Hill’s leather flying helmet and goggles, were set for auction on Tuesday, March 28 and were expected to fetch upward of $600. Hansons Auctioneers will host the sale of Hill’s belongings and other historic relics in its Medals and Militaria Auction.
Hill served as a sergeant in the United Kingdom’s Glider Pilot Regiment. The GPR became active in 1942 and remained a part of the British airborne forces until 1957.
His flight log details “special exercises” from 1944 to 1945. According to an entry in his log book, he played a role in Operation Varsity, the largest single-day airborne operation in history. Hill flew as a gunner in a Stirling MK IV bomber, and he called the air mission a “Good Trip!!!” according to the Hansons press release.
He apparently lived in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, for a time, and it’s possible that he may have originated from Ashbourne, thanks to a photo with a note. But not much more is known about Hill.
What we do know is that like many men living in the United Kingdom, he was likely conscripted into the military. In 1939, Parliament enacted a measure that all men between 18 and 41 had to register for duty.
While specific details and information about the men and women who served may one day be lost to history, Hill and his exploits remain pillars of the bravery and boldness that WWII’s heroes exhibited.