Hector’s WW2 memorabilia returns home

Tenterfield RSL sub-Branch president Dave Stewart with Patriots Military Motorcycle Club member John Wasilewski holding Private Hill’s plaque.Pictures: JOHN WASILEWSKI

Discovered 77 years after the end of World War II, the watch and plaque of Australian Imperial Force (AIF) Private Hector McDonald Hill found its way back to his hometown at the Tenterfield, NSW, RSL sub-branch on 24 May 2024.

Private Hills watch was initially discovered in a Lowood second-hand store by Patriots Military Motorcycle Club member John Wasilewski who contacted the Canberra War Museum, identifying the watch as belonging to Private Hill.

“I was a watchmaker by trade, and I used to go around the second-hand shops once a month and buy all the old watches for five or ten dollars,” Mr Wasilewski said.

“Two returned serviceperson’s watches sat in my pile for about 15 years, after I retired, I took a good look at them and noticed there was an army, air force service number on both.”

Linda Dennison of Coorparoo was given ownership of the watches as the second military watch found belonged to her father, Ron Munnich.

Mr Wasilewski said Ms Dennison had been responsible for caring for the watches from 2022 until recently.

Ms Dennison grew concerned when no immediate relative of Private Hill’s watch could be found who wanted to care for the watch.

“Linda Dennison rang me two weeks ago and said, John, I’m getting old, I can’t keep Hector McDonald Hills plaque anymore,” he said.

“We found a relative who was married to Hills son, a daughter-in-law, but we decided because there was no immediate family, we were going to take it to Tenterfield because that’s where Hector was born.

“My wife, Joanne, and I took the plaque to Tenterfield, the members of the Tenterfield RSL were absolutely tickled pink.

“The plaque has now been wholly and solely donated to the Tenterfield RSL.”

Mr Wasilewski said Private Hill was a very accomplished military veteran, with solace found knowing his plaque was back home.

“Hector had three service numbers, the first one from the First World War where he was medically discharged,” he said.

“His second number in the AIF was 1310, and then his Z force number 646.

“When I took off the back of Hector’s watch case, inside was his Z number 646.

“He was stationed on Thursday Island to map the movement of Japanese ships and submarines in WW2.”