I have a number of relatives who served in war, some with distinction, all with determination and courage—both my parents, an uncle, a grandfather, several great uncles. One of the most distinguished was my great uncle Captain Ernest Pither Hitchcock, MC, DCM. He volunteered for enlistment on 18 August 1914 as a Private and was posted to the 2nd Field Ambulance unit attached to the 6th Battalion.
At Gallipolli in July 1915 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct medal and promoted to Corporal for
For conspicuous and gallantry and devotion to duty on 8th May 1915 and following days north of Cape Helles (Dardanelles). In assisting the wounded under heavy fire, Private Hitchcock exhibited a heroism beyond praise. Absolutely regardless of danger, he, in company with another man, attended tot he wounded, leading up the stretcher bearer, and dressing the severe cases in the fire trenches, even before they were completed. Not only was he instrumental in saving many lives, but, by his coolness and courage, he set a splendid examples of devotion to duty and gave the greatest encouragement to all ranks.
Ernest was evacuated ill from Gallipolli to Cairo in October 1915 and was repatriated to Australia in February 1916. Later that year he re-embarked from Australia, as part of a group of reinforcements, eventually reaching France via England on 15 February 1917. He was promoted to Sergeant in May and sent for officer training in November.
As a 2nd Lieutenant Ernest Pither Hithcock was wounded in action several times during 1918 and was awarded the Military Cross,
For great gallantry and skill while leading his platoon, which was the centre of an attack, and which met with much opposition. When a frontal assault on a heavily garrisoned enemy strong point was temporarily held up, he split his men into two parties, and while attacking from both flanks and rear, succeeded in gaining his objective. Twice wounded early in the attack, he yet carried on until met by his company commander, who ordered him to the dressing station.
On return to Australia his appointment ended in May 1919-five years of demanding service.
Yet this was not enough. At the age of 50, Ernest enlisted in the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles on 6 October 1942. As a result of his services, largely undocumented, in 1944 he was awarded the US Legion of Merit,
For exceptionally meritorious services conduct in the performance of outstanding services in New Guinea from 1 July to 15 September 1943. Captain Hitchcock and his company rendered invaluable service in patrol and reconnaissance work during the Salamaeus campaign, securing information which was highly important to operations of our troops. He personally led a great number of these patrols through enemy-occupied territory in order to secure vital information. By his exceptional bravery and technical skill, Captain Hitchcock contributed materially to the successful completion of our mission in the Salamaeus area. (General Order 60, Ext sheet DQ 28/45)
One of many who served.