Lance Corporal Rubin James Hillier 2417
Rubin Hillier was the eldest of William and Ada Hillier’s ten children and grew up on the family property, Anglegrove, at the end of School Lane, Exeter. On 9th March 1916, Rubin and his brother Henry, or Harry as he was known, enlisted together at Goulburn, and sailed from Sydney for England on the ship Aeneus on 30th September. By December 1916 they were both in France.
Rubin was promoted from Private to Lance Corporal in June 1917 and proved himself to be a brave and committed soldier. At the Battle of Polygon Wood, the third of three major battles which took place near Ypres in September 1917, he was severely wounded. Polygon Wood would become a name etched in the memory of Australians, a battle that cost Australia’s 5th Division 5,770 dead and wounded.
For his exploits in that battle he was recommended by his commanding officer for a Victoria Cross but for reasons unknown he was awarded the next highest honour, the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He also received the French Medaille Militaire and the Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valour. The wound which took him out of action was a compound fracture to his thigh which left him with one leg shorter than the other. Rubin was discharged medically unfit and returned to Australia on 1st June 1918. Harry Hillier was wounded in July 1918 and also invalided home.
After the war, Rubin returned to Exeter where, although severely incapacitated, he conducted a carrying business for a number of years. He was instrumental in the formation of the RSL Sub-branch at Bundanoon and remained a loyal member. He led the Guard of Honour of returned servicemen when the War Memorial Gates at Exeter Park were dedicated by the Governor of NSW, Sir John Northcott, on 12th February 1950.