Mr Ronald (Ron) Hill
16 July 1920 - 07 January 2013
Resident of The Royal Star & Garter Homes, Richmond,
July 2010 – January 2013
Ronald Hill (known as Ron) was 20 years old and newly wed, having been married to Bessie for only two or three weeks, when he was called up into the Royal Artillery in 1940. He was based at Dover where he saw the Battle of Britain dogfights – as Britain’s fighter pilots fought to defend the coast from the Luftwaffe’s aerial attacks.
Ron later served in The Queen’s Regiment. At the beginning of June 1944, he took part in the Normandy landings – where he was seriously wounded by shrapnel. Ron and his fellow soldiers had to avoid minefields and take cover in fields and woodland as they approached Tilly-sur-Seulles. By that stage the town had been taken and retaken half a dozen times. Ron had reached the outskirts and was hiding behind a bank when German shells came over with devastating effect. Shrapnel caused the death of many of his companions and Ron was wounded in the centre of his back, causing spinal cord damage. Unable to move, Ron lay among the dead for nine hours before being rescued.
Back in Britain, Ron received pioneering treatment at Stoke Mandeville Hospital that undoubtedly saved his life. He was treated by Dr (later Sir) Ludwig Guttmann, whose new programme of treatment for patients with spinal injuries was designed not only to prolong life, but to help disabled patients enjoy active and full lives. Founder of the Paralympic Games, Dr Guttmann also had strong links with The Royal Star & Garter Homes for over thirty years.
Dr Guttmann encouraged Ron to build up his strength through sport. Ron explained “I was quite a good swimmer before I was injured so he got me doing that. It gave you confidence and the will to live.” Ron also worked in the hospital workshops, and continued to use the skills he had learned when he went home.
After leaving the Forces in 1947, Ron lived with his wife Bessie and younger brother Cyril. Ron worked in a carpentry and joinery workshop alongside Cyril, doing administrative work. The family had a bungalow overlooking the sea at Whitstable, where they enjoyed holidays for many years.
Ron joined The Royal Star & Garter Homes in July 2010, moving into our Richmond Home shortly before his 90th birthday. He had been coming to the Richmond Home on short breaks for two weeks twice a year, before deciding to become a full-time resident. Ron said: “There is no place like home, but this is the nearest you’ll get to it”.
With characteristic determination and courage, Ron took full advantage of physiotherapy treatment and made great progress. He was an active and much loved resident, who made a great contribution to life at the Home, and will be missed by all the staff and fellow residents.
During his time at the Home, Ron generously allowed The Royal Star & Garter Homes to share his remarkable story through fundraising mailings and other literature, and helped to raise a substantial amount of money for the Charity. Thanks to Ron’s kindness, and all the supporters who have been touched by his story, we will continue to provide the highest standard of care for disabled ex-Service men and women.
In addition to his Service medals, Ron’s achievements were acknowledged in November 1994 when he was awarded the Medaille du Jubile by the President of the Regional Council of Basse-Normandie “in recognition of the part he took in the liberation of the region, of France, and of Europe”.