1920 St Matthew’s New Norfolk, Eric Hill memorial window.

 

Artist/Studio: William Montgomery, Melbourne, c.1920.
Location: New Norfolk, Tasmania, Australia.
Building: St Matthew’s, New Norfolk.
Memorial:
Eric George Hill.
Donor: Relatives.

Status: Extant.
Photos dated: 7th Oct 2010.

At Hobart, on the afternoon of Sunday the 19th December 1920, a young 21 year old Postal worker named Eric Hill and his two mates, Frank Hartill and Keith Smith, decided it would be a great day to go motor-boating on the Derwent River.

Down at Hobart’s Domain Shipyards the young men spent a considerable amount of time and frustration attempting to get the boats “rebellious” motor to fire up. Eric gave up in disgust and decided to let his two mates continue the sisyphean task and decided to go for a row in a small flat bottomed “punto” by himself. Frank and Keith watched him as he slowly rowed out of sight around Battery Point towards Sandy Bay. Eric wasn’t an experienced boatman and he couldn’t swim!

Some distance out in the Derwent River off Battery Point the water became choppy and Eric got into difficulty with handling the dinghy. A short distance away a fellow named Glyn Salter, in a motor-boat with his teenage son, saw that Eric was in difficulty and steered towards him. When close enough he asked him to come aboard their boat but Eric simply said “No, throw me a rope”, which Salter did. Instead of tying the rope to the bow of the boat, Eric made yet another poor decision and held onto the rope instead, whilst he was sitting in the middle of the dinghy. The obvious then occurred and the dinghy turned side-on as it was being towed and began to fill with water. To make matters worse, Eric began to pull harder on the rope and the dinghy began to take even more water. The chain of events became even more perilous as “two river steamers, the Togo and Cartela, went past, almost abreast, on each side of the motor-boat and the dinghy…”

Eric saw the wake coming towards him from both sides and without thinking he “lost his head, let go the rope, and sprang overboard”.

Salter turned his boat around in a circle of the area and when he saw Eric come to the surface a few yards off he jumped into the water fully clothed to save him. Eric disappeared out of sight and despite Salter’s numerous dives under the water but he could not be found. Salter then made his arduous attempt to get back aboard his boat where his son was at the tiller. It was a difficult task as he still had his coat on which was extremely heavy with water.

Eric’s dinghy had sunk and unfortunately so had he.

Salter circled the area in his motor-boat for some time, but nothing was to be seen so he headed for shore to inform the water police of the incident. He returned to his home briefly to change into some dry clothing before heading back out to the scene. Together with “Sergeant Wright, with Constables Rogers and Stewart, and Water-Bailiff Challenger, spent the rest of the afternoon dragging, but without success.”

Despite the area being searched as far as Sandy Bay, the body of Eric George Hill was never recovered. [1]

At St Matthew’s Church, New Norfolk, on the 30th of December 1921, a memorial stained glass window was unveiled to the memory of Eric George Hill. The window was made by William Montgomery of Melbourne and depicts Saint Stephen with the memorial text below:-

“SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF ERIC GEORGE HILL, BELOVED SON OF W. R. AND E. H. HILL, AGED 21 YEARS WHO WAS DROWNED IN THE DERWENT, DEC 19th 1920.” [2]

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Footnotes:

[1] The Mercury, Hobart, TAS, Monday 20th December 1920, page 5.

[2] The Mercury, Hobart, TAS, Saturday 31st December 1921, page 6.


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One comment on “1920 St Matthew’s New Norfolk, Eric Hill memorial window.

  1. Well done, Ray

    I am just back from visiting cemeteries in Italy…a marvellous experience…. All bests Liz

    On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, Stained Glass Australia wrote:

    > Ray Brown posted: ” Artist/Studio: William Montgomery, Melbourne, c.1920. > Location: New Norfolk, Tasmania, Australia. Building: St Matthew’s, New > Norfolk. Memorial: Henry Hill. Donor: Relatives. Status: Extant. Photos > dated: 7th Oct 2010. At Hobart, on the afternoo” >

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