Ronald Butler HINDER MC

HINDER, Ronald Butler

Service Number: 1788
Enlisted: 30 May 1915, Liverpool
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)
Born: West Maitland, New South Wales, Australia, 29 June 1891
Home Town: Mosman, Municipality of Mosman, New South Wales
Schooling: Maitland Boys' High School, Maitland, and the University of Sydney, New South Wales
Occupation: Mining Engineer
Died: Natural causes, Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, 24 June 1948, aged 56 years
Cemetery: Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, NSW
Memorials: Maitland High School Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

30 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1788, Mining Corps, Liverpool
1 Dec 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, Mining Corps
1 Jan 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Mining Corps
20 Feb 1916: Embarked Lieutenant, Mining Corps, HMAT Ulysses, Sydney
20 Feb 1916: Involvement Lieutenant, Mining Corps
20 Feb 1916: Involvement Lieutenant, Mining Corps
20 Feb 1916: Embarked Lieutenant, Mining Corps, HMAT Ulysses, Sydney
6 May 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)
11 Jan 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)
3 Jun 1918: Honoured Military Cross
18 Jul 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Captain, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company), HT Orsova, Tilbury, England for return to Australia, with wife - disembarking Sydney 6 September 1919.
12 Jan 1920: Discharged AIF WW1, Captain, 1st Tunnelling Company (inc. 4th Tunnelling Company)

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Biography contributed by Michael Silver

The son of the headmaster of Sydney Boys’ High School, R.J. Hinder BA and his wife Sarah Florence Mills, Ronald Butler Hinder was born at Maitland in 1891. One of seven children, he was educated at Maitland Boys’ High School during the period his father was headmaster of the school (1889-1914).

He then completed a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Sydney University.  After leaving university he worked in a mine at Cobar, NSW and prior to enlisting was working with the NSW Department of Public Works.

Ronald Hinder enlisted in the AIF in May 1915.  After officer training he was appointed a Second Lieutenant on 1 December 1915. Promoted to Lieutenant, he embarked with the Australian Mining Corps from Sydney in February 1916. Soon after his arrival in France, in May 1916, the Mining Corps was broken up into four specialist companies, with Lieutenant Hinder assigned to the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company.

Shortly after its formation, the Company moved to the Railway Wood-Hooge-Armagh Wood area of the Ypres Salient. From November 1916 the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company took over the mines at Hill 60. As part of the preparations for the Battle of Messines, the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company was tasked with ensuring that the tunnels and explosives beneath Hill 60 and The Caterpillar remained intact and undiscovered by the Germans over the next seven months.

Drainage and ventilation shafts had to be dug in the unfamiliar blue clay, and there was a constant danger of collapse. At the same time, listening posts had to be maintained to detect enemy action. These posts were only a few metres underground and therefore susceptible to collapse during bombardments. The German mining units were constantly trying to find British tunnels and numerous counter tunnels had to be dug towards the German excavations so that they could be mined with small charges and destroyed.

The Official Australian History, Charles Bean noted that ‘the urgency of this defensive measure was due to noises in the half-untamped Hill 60 gallery having changed their character. On April 5, 1917 Lieutenant R.B. Hinder listening at the tamping, heard the Germans working a winch in some neighbouring shaft which, by the sounds, seemed to be lined with metal’.

Four days later the Germans raided the trenches, evidently searching for mines. They caused some surface damage, but the deep galleries remained intact. Bean went on to state that at Hill 60, ‘underground warfare reached a tension which was not surpassed anywhere else on the British front’. The mines at Messines were eventually detonated on 7 June 1917.

In January 1918, Ronald Hinder was promoted to Captain and in the following June was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous service. He continued to serve with the Tunnellers until the Armistice.

The end of the war was a time of mixed feelings for Ronald Hinder, with the sudden passing of his father on 8 November and his impending marriage. On 10 January 1919 at the Presbyterian Church, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England he married Jessie Alexandra McLeod (1897-1990) of Oxton. Granted special leave, Captain Hinder under took work to expand his engineering experience with Birkenhead County Borough Council before he and his wife embarked the HT Orsova in late July 1919 for Australia.

After returning to Australia, Ronald Hinder resumed his employment with the Department of Public Works and subsequently was engaged as an engineer at the Portland Cement Works near Lithgow. Later he worked as a private contractor and was the Assistant District Engineer for the Allied Works Council at Darwin during World War II.

Captain Ronald Butler Hinder MC died at Nowra Hospital on 24 June 1948, five days short of his 57th birthday – he was survived by his wife Jessie and daughters Nora and Joan.


Volume IV – The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1917, CEW Bean, p. 957.