This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Massachusetts.
Arnold Whittier Hill was born in Malden, Massachusetts on 13 June 1897, the only son and eldest child of Arthur and Josephine Hill. He attended school in Malden, where he demonstrated an early interest in flying.
He volunteered in Boston for service with the Royal Flying Corps and enlisted in Toronto on 4 January 1918. After attendance at No. 4 School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Toronto, he travelled to Texas where he learned to fly. Transferred to the Royal Air Force upon its formation on 1 April 1918, he was commissioned on 27 June. Hill was selected for training as an instructor and posted to the School of Special Flying at Armour Heights in Toronto. On 13 July 1918, he was flying Curtis JN4, registration C374, at Leaside Aerodrome, in southern Toronto, when he stalled in a turn and his aircraft fell from 800 feet. He was killed on impact and the aircraft was engulfed in flames.
At the subsequent inquest, it was revealed that of 900 flights from Armour Heights field there had been 26 accidents, one fatal and four resulting in injury. It would not be long before another fatal crash—on 16 June two more pilots were burned to death when their aircraft crashed.
Hill’s remains were cremated and his ashes returned home; a funeral service was held at his parents’ home on 17 July. In October 1918, his mother died and the following year, on 4 February 1919, their ashes were interred in a plot owned by his mother’s family in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge. His ashes lie in grave 4256, in the centre of the cemetery in a beautiful spot on the slope of the southern side of the ‘Dell’—it is one of the prettiest burial locations visited during the course of the project. His father and sister are also buried here.
Arnold Whittier Hill is commemorated on page 588 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 20 December.
1. (Back) Arthur Whittier Hill (August 1872-25 July 1930) married Mary Josephine Bridge (2 October 1874-12 October 1918) on 7 December 1895: Margaret Bridge (later Petersen) (10 June 1905-16 October 1992). A second sister (Helen) died in infancy in 1909.
2. (Back) Lieutenant Wilfred Burton Tait (Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto) and Air Mechanic 1st Class Harry Eugene Belford (Prospect Cemetery, Toronto).