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VINCENT HILLIER


Private 1393536 Vincent Roger Hillier, South Wales Borderers.

Died 20th October 1944.


 Vincent’s mother Bessie was brought up in Llangwm and used to walk over to Caerwent to work at the Vicarage. Probably on account of this she met Charles Hillier, who worked as a stonemason for Mr Oakley at Dewstow. Vincent was the youngest of their three children, born at 'The Steps' Cottage in Caerwent, and the family eventually moved to Museum House. The museum became The Institute and the house is now called 'Byways'.


Vincent stayed at Caerwent School until the leaving age of 14 and then worked for Harry Jones who ran a milk round from 'The Wern' (where the laundrette is now). At 18 he started to deliver milk independently, at first using an ordinary bicycle - later, one with a carrier on the front. This was to hold the large container from which Vincent dispensed milk using a half pint measure.


He had a happy, outgoing personality, enjoyed all the little pleasures of village life and loved children. He played the mouth organ, enjoyed tinkering with radios (newfangled, battery powered things in those days), did not smoke or drink (unlike his brother!) and had a very ready sense of humour. He helped to run the Wolf Cubs in the Institute.

His brother was already a regular soldier and Vincent was called up at the age of 19. Soon after that his father died. Until the Normandy Invasion he spent his service time training at Brecon and on 'manoeuvres' in Northern Ireland. Whilst on leave he was asked why he wasn’t fighting for his country. Vincent explained that Churchill was out of the country and that Britain needed at least one of them to be at home!


Following up the D-Day landings, Vincent was injured and spent some days on a hospital ship. He then returned to the front line as the Allies advanced eastwards and was killed by a sniper at Brecht near Antwerp. A number of residents remember the distress at Museum House on the day when the telegram arrived. Vincent was buried at Geel in Belgium.


If still alive today he would be 82. His mother died in 1986 at the age of 105. His brother Redvers (Jesse) was in the pioneer corps and took part in the early morning landings on D- Day. He greatly enjoyed the 50th Anniversary celebration of D-Day and VE Day in the village, but has since died. Vincent’s sister Kath still lives in Caerwent and four nephews and nieces have raised families in the district.





JN from Redvers 'Jesse' Hillier, Oct 1997