The Life Of David Charles Hillier, 1923-1965

How am I supposed to feel.
When the nightmares & pain become to real?
What am I supposed to say,
When all my hope has gone away?
Where do I go when life passes by,
And all I want to do is die?
When do I get the choice,
And quiet the endless voice?
Flashbacks, isolation and hypervigilence abound,
Peace & calm can’t be found.
The Grim Reaper scares me not,
I live in Hell & fear him not.
PTSD, I’m the walking dead,
Stuck with the memories inside my head.
– My PTSD by L. N. Preston

It is with the upmost honour, that I welcome my sister in-law, Sarah Harris, to share the life of David Charles Hillier, with you all.
Davids story is heartbreaking and a true tragedy, one which many military men, women and their families can relate to.
It’s beyond heart wrenching that in this day and age, our war heroes are still suffering the impact of war, especially since most modern wars seem to be more about oil and greed than the protection of their civilians.
War is evil through and through and destroys so much more than we can you ever comprehend.
I could ramble on and on about how devastating war is and the damage it has done to so many, but Instead I will hand you over to the talented hand of Sarah and she can share how war impacted her families lives by telling you Davids story.
So without further ado, we give you,

The Life of David Charles Hillier.
By Sarah Harris nee Green



David Charles, was the second child born to Mabel Beatrice Hillier (known as Beat) (Nee Butt) and Fredrick Charles Hillier (known as Charles) on a very cold autumn day, Tuesday the 27th of November 1923 at Awbridge House Farm. A new little brother for my grandad Norman John (known as John) who was born on the 4thof January the year before. They would go on to welcome 6 more siblings into the family all born at Awbridge House Farm.

Marion Grace (known as Grace) born 07/01/1925, Beryl Eileen born 07/05/1926, Robin James born 13/10/1927, Myrtle Beatrice born 26/08/1929, Margaret Joan (known as Joan) born 24/12/1930 and the last brother Henry George born 16/05/1933.
8 children born within just over 10 years! Wow what a family!
Below is a photo from left to right of Grace, John, Beryl & David.

When David was school age he started Awbridge Primary School (with Mr Treble as Head Master) I can imagine Grandad (John) walking him over the fields on his 1st day being a proud big brother!

Unfortunately David was involved in an accident when he was young (possibly school age or older) while the children were playing “let’s throw stones over the house!” with his siblings or possibly nieces & nephews resulting in a stone hitting and damaging David’s eye and him having to go to hospital for treatment, sadly the doctors couldn’t save his eye it was too badly injured and he was made a prosthetic eye more than likely from glass.

The Hillier Family were very much into Horticultural Society entering lots of Classes in the annual shows, I can imagine the children getting very excited and skipping across the fields on a warm summers day to collect their bunches of flowers to display. What a lovely care free childhood they must have had!

Hampshire Advertiser 7th August 1937

Awbridge Horticultural Society held their 13th Annual show at the Village Hall Children’s Class (aged 10-14) – Collection of wild flowers

1 Norman Cole
2 Walter Parsons
3 Frank Bennett
4 David Hillier

Children’s Class (under 10) – Collection of wild flowers
1 Gordon Clewer
2 Joan Hillier
3 Myrtle Hillier
4 May Parsons

There’s no real information I’ve found so far between leaving school & World War II, however we do know David used to help his Father Charles & Grandfather Walter, “The Governor” on occasions with the normal day to day farming chores. Here is David far right next to younger brother Robin helping on the Farm (Yew Tree Farm or Awbridge House Farm).

The family moved from Awbridge House Farm to Hatchers Farm Carters Clay during the 2nd World War in 1941/2.
During the war David served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, taking part in the D Day Landings.

All soldiers were issued with a training pamphlet giving advice and instructions on basic battlefield first aid, as well as this it assured the fighting man that modern medicine can perform miracles. These miracles would be performed, at least for the British and Canadian forces by the men of the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. Doctors, Surgeons and Orderlies would land with the troops and right from the start provide urgent medical treatment to those injured on the beaches.

It is also important to remember that these Medics, whilst also soldiers, were also unarmed and relied on either their Red Cross armbands or their own wits to protect them as they traversed the battlefield to aid others.

David later went to Singapore and was demobilised in 1946. Returning to Hatchers Farm, Carters Clay.
Shortly after returning home from war Grandad asked David to be his best man, David accepted and Nan & Grandad married at St Johns Church Sherfield English on Saturday 10th of May 1947. It was a beautiful warm sunny day perfect day for a wedding.
Here are the brothers below looking very dapper in their dark tailored suits just after the wedding in front of Sherfield Village Hall where the reception was held. The bridesmaids from left to right were Beryl, Myrtle, Joan (sisters to the groom) and Pat Humphries (cousin to the bride) all wearing Victorian styles dresses of turquoise crepe, the little pageboy Master John Wallace (brides nephew) who wore a suit of white crepe, and of course my beautiful Nan in a gorgeous dress of white brocaded satin 

However David never married remaining a bachelor all his life, but he did have a romance with a local girl living in Awbridge called Elizabeth Warwick affectionally known as Bett, (this is our Kate Hillier’s Aunt, the much younger sister of Kate’s mother, Eileen Warwick, known as Dolly).
Unfortunately for David her heart lay else where, with another local lad called Peter Betteridge. They wed in 1952, and as far as I know lived a long and happy life together.

After the War sadly David was never the same often having bouts of extreme depression.  My mum Janet remembers my grandad saying that David used to take his father’s 12 bore shotgun over the fields to shoot rabbits and pheasants for his mum to make pies and stews to feed the family. (I vividly remember rabbits and pheasants hung over the bath at Hatchers Farm!) But if David wasn’t back within a reasonable time his Mother used to send his Father out to find him, worried sick he would intentionally hurt himself.
Soldiers often experience trauma during war and over time this can develop into a condition which in those days was described as “Shell Shock” but we now recognise this as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) sufferers can experience severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia and anger amongst other symptoms.
When a person is subjected to a life or death situation, a chemical reaction occurs inside the body that heightens awareness, numbs pain, and otherwise prepares the body for escape or imminent attack. This ‘fight or flight’ response is a survival mechanism that generally gives human beings (and other creatures) an adaptive advantage. This is a healthy, normal reaction. If this survival mechanism is engaged for a prolonged period, however, side-effects such as severe trembling, dizziness, and hyperventilation can occur. The modern military refers to this condition as Combat Stress Reaction, and it is to be expected due to the emotional, mental, and physical demands of prolonged combat operations.
Currently, there is no cure for PTS, but there is hope. Symptoms can be eased by psychotherapy and medication. Helping a loved one with PTSD is a difficult and heart-breaking task.

No wounds upon my body,
No scars that you can find,
Just hurt from War fought long ago
Implanted in my mind.
No outward signs of injury,
No tell-tale signs of pain,
Only flashbacks and the nightmares
Time and time again.

David sought professional help, spending some time in Park Prewitt in Basingstoke which operated as a Psychiatric Hospital from 1917-1997.

David’s main occupation was a builder’s labourer working for Hurst’s Builders for a time and recently before his death Messrs. Pritchard, Downer and Bailey, Salisbury

David tried to keep busy and occupy his mind with sport when not at work, in fact he was a well-known sportsman in the local area, and won many trophies in each sport. David played football for Awbridge & Sherfield English. Below is a photo of David (bottom 2nd left) and his Awbridge team in the 1950’s

David also played cricket for Greatbridge & Tytherley and was in the darts A team for, The Bush Inn, Newtown, near Romsey, Hampshire.

Sadly David’s life would come to an end at only 42 years of age.

Article from the Romsey Advertiser dated 22nd Dec 1965

Man Found Dead on Railway
Balance of Mind Disturbed,
Coroner Finds
At an inquest in Romsey on Tuesday morning on Mr David Charles Hillier (42), of Hatchers Farm, Carters Clay, Awbridge, the Southampton County Coroner (Mr D.H.B.Harfield) said he was satisfied that the cause of death was destruction of the brain due to multiple skull fractures – run down by a railway train whilst the balance of the mind was disturbed.
Mr Norman John Hillier, of Carters Clay, Awbridge said his brother had been depressed and had been admitted to hospital on several occasions. Just before his death he had seen a doctor and arrangements had been made for him to continue with hospital treatment. He had been a little worried about returning to hospital.
A railway ganger , Mr. William Arthur Lawrence, of Railway Cottages, Horsebridge, said that on Friday, December 17th, he found the body of Mr Hillier lying between the up and down tracks of the railway line a half mile on the Romsey side of the level crossing at Kimbridge . He reported the matter to the Station Master at Romsey.

Grandad (John) identified David’s body, his mum & dad devastated, and unable to themselves. Grandad was only allowed to identify the body from the shoulders down, basically by his clothing, how horrific this must have been for my Grandad, I’ve never really thought about it that deeply before I started to research David, but writing this has hit me just how upsetting it would’ve been, not only for him to identify his brothers body but for the other siblings and his poor mum & dad.

David’s death was registered on the 27th of December 1965, cause of death destruction of brain due to multiple fractures of skull. Run down by railway train balance of his mind disturbed.

David was laid to rest on a cold (possibly snowy) winters day, on Thursday 30th December 1965  The service held at All Saints Church Awbridge was conducted by Rev. H.E. Winnington-Ingram, with Mrs. Winnington-Ingram as the organist for the singing of the hymn “Abide by Me”

There were many who paid their respects at the funeral, immediate mourners, friends, family, fellow workers, representatives from Awbridge FC, Latimers Arms darts club, The Bush Inn darts club, and a large number of wreathes. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Cheater, Romsey.

David is particularly remembered for his kind nature by many, his niece Pauline Hooper nee Hillier (known as Polly) remembers her Uncle David sending 10 shillings in a brown paper envelope on birthdays. My mum Janet saying he was “a kind hearted man, who seemed happy jovial.” Nephew Mike Walker remembers how he loved to ride motorbikes and at one point owning a Green Honda 50, another nephew Rob Hillier remembers his Uncle David’s favourite tipple being ½ a pint of bitter & ½ a pint of light ale in the same glass!

In Memory Loving
David Charles Hillier

Who left behind him the kind hearted character of a good man
Though you had to let go of this world to find peace, we hold your memory in our hearts, so you live forever.

Now finally at peace, resting in the tranquil grounds of Awbridge Churchyard, next to his mum & Dad and surrounded by Hillier family

His Grave is a stone kerb surround with the inscription along the right hand side

“In Loving Memory Of David Charles Hillier
Died 17th Dec 1965
Aged 42 years”


Beautifully written by,
Sarah Harris nee Green,
May 2022.

I have brought and paid for all certificates throughout,
Please do not download or use them without my permission.
All you have to do is ask.
The same goes for the treasured family photos. please be respectful.
Thank you.

4 thoughts on “The Life Of David Charles Hillier, 1923-1965

  1. Absolutely beautifully put together …thank you I will show my husband Kevin, Robin’s son and Polly’s brother as soon as I get home.


  2. Pingback: Chapter Five, May 2022 | Intwined

  3. Pingback: The Life Of Walter George Hillier, 1867-1946 | Intwined

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