Lieutenant John Holroyd Hill was in a class of his own, students at his former school reveal.
LIEUTENANT John Holroyd Hill received two medals for bravery in World War I and went on to lead Adelaide’s most prestigious school.
Hill, of Dulwich, started teaching at St Peter’s College in 1912 and enlisted in December 1915.
On April 25, 1918, at Villers-Bretonneux, in France, Hill pressed on with his mission to report on enemy positions after being hit in the face with shrapnel.
He received the Military Cross for his bravery.
Five months later, in a battle in Bony, in north-western France, Hill led men from the 107th American Infantry Regiment into heavy enemy machine-gun fire.
He was grazed by three bullets before being wounded in the leg.
For his bravery, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the highest honour bestowed by the US on a foreigner.
Only eight other Australians received it during World War I.
After the war, Hill returned to teach at St Peter’s, where he became acting headmaster in 1943.
He died in 1945, aged 55, leaving behind his wife, Helen, and four children.
St Peter’s College archivist Andrea McKinnon-Matthews has put together an exhibition of St Peter’s old scholars who fought in World War I, focusing on those who participated in the Gallipoli campaign.
More than 1000 old scholars enlisted and 179 died in the war.
“They went so eagerly and readily to war,” Ms McKinnon-Matthews says.
Year 4 students at the school have planted poppies they will dedicate to the World War I fallen.
Wyl, 9, says the poppies grew especially well on the battlefields of France and Belgium.
“All the men churned up the ground because of them running and the horses,” he says.