First World War Roll of Honour
Gerald William Hilliard was born in Guernsey on 19th May 1885, the son of William and Lydia Hilliard. In 1901, he began a five year apprenticeship with Great Western Railway in Swindon, entering Downing College in 1906, although, according to the College magazine, The Griffin, Hilliard ‘remained for a short time only’. This, perhaps, may be explained by his appointment as Assistant to the Maintenance Engineer for the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway in 1908. He returned to the UK from Argentina on 10th November 1914 following the outbreak of the war.
Hilliard joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant (probationary) on 4th January 1915 and qualified to fly a Grahame-White biplane at Hendon the following month. The College magazine, 'The Griffin', reported that he died in Egypt on 8th September 1915 of wounds received in the Dardanelles. However, this seems likely to be incorrect. The official history of the Royal Naval Air Service notes that G W Hilliard was killed during the Zeppelin raids of 8th and 9th September "by the explosion of his bombs when he landed in a field at Bacton." (The War in the Air, Volume 3 , p121). At the time he was flying a BE2c and had taken off from RNAS Yarmouth in pursuit of Zeppelin L14 which had attacked Bylaugh, East Dereham, and Seaming that evening.
He is buried in the Great Yarmouth (Caister) Cemetery.
Civil Engineer Records, Apprenticeship, Incoming Passenger Lists and Royal Aero Club records.
With thanks to Seth Speirs for the information relating to Hilliard's death defending against the Zeppelin raids.