Friday, 14 September 2018

W H Mills 944

The following entry is from They Answered The CallClick here for the contents page.

Walter Henry MILLS

Service number: 944.  Age: 28 years 4 months.  Enlisted: 20 Jan 1915.
Occupation: Carpenter. Next of kin: (mother) Mrs Maria Hill.
Address on enlistment: Eumundi.

 Rough seas breaking over the bow of HMAT A60 Aeneas, 1915.[1]

Service Summary:

20 Jan 1915: 25 Infantry Battalion.

29 Jun 1915: Embarked from Brisbane on HMAT A60 Aeneas for the Middle East.

Oct 1915: HMAT A60 Aeneas at Port Suez for France.[2]

23 Jul 1916: Captured Pozieres, Prisoner of war interned Fillialager, Wehn. At the time of his capture 25 Battalion, as part of the 2nd Division, took part in its first major battle of Pozieres between 25 Jul and 7 Aug suffering 785 casualties.

“The 25th Battalion was raised at Enoggera in Queensland in March 1915 as part of the 7th Brigade. Although predominantly composed of men recruited in Queensland, the battalion also included a small contingent of men from Darwin. The battalion left Australia in early July, trained in Egypt during August, and by early September was manning trenches at Gallipoli.

At Gallipoli the 7th Brigade reinforced the depleted New Zealand and Australian Division. The 25th Battalion, however, had a relatively quiet time because the last major Allied offensive had been launched, and turned back, in the previous month. It left the peninsular on 18 December 1915.

After further training in Egypt, the 25th Battalion proceeded to France. Landing on 19 March 1916, it was the first AIF battalion to arrive there. Now fighting as part of the 2nd Division, it took part in its first major battle at Pozieres between 25 July and 7 August in the course of which it suffered 785 casualties.” [3]

7 Dec 1918: Arrived Dover as a Repatriated Prisoner of War.

5 Mar 1919: Returned to Australia on Nevada.

Service Details:

In Dec 1915, at Gallipoli, Walter Mills contracted jaundice and was admitted to a military hospital in Alexandria, Egypt. While recovering Walter Mills penned the letter below to his elder sister Catherine (Mrs. John Brinkley) and family who lived at Eumundi and the letter was published in the Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser. Walter Mills’ letter shows he thought that he may be sent home soon. As events unfolded Walter wasn’t sent home but returned to 25 Battalion in Jan 1916.

Soldiers' Letter.  Private Harry Mills.[4]

   Mr and Mrs J. Brinkley are in receipt of a cheerful letter from the latter's brother, Private H. Mills, who enlisted from Eumundi, and who writes from hospital at Alexandria on 19 Dec 1915:

   “Just a few lines to let you know that I am getting better; my feet that were sore from the cold are nearly right.  I wore my boot yesterday, out for a tram ride and a look round town.  Needless to say “the lad enjoyed hisself.”  It is ever so much safer going about here than over at the peninsula where when you went for a walk you had to look out for a bomb or a shell that would shake the devil out of you, or else there would be a Turk trying to use you for the worst end of a shooting gallery, the bullets saying 'ping pong', I liked my little dug-out behind the hill best of all.  It is surprising how much shell is wasted.  The Turks fired 40 into our “rest camp” one day and only knocked the bottom out of a mess tin.  I was glad that tin wasn't me, but I never got hit, though I was buried whole one day, when a shell blew in part of a trench, and you'd have laughed to see the lad wriggling out like a worm.  When I got out I had to shake myself like a fowl, as a wash was impossible without water.  I had used half a jam tin full that morning having a shave.  The Turks did not fire at me when getting out, although I was exposed to view.  They must have taken me for a heap of dirt. . .

   I hope you enjoyed your Christmas and that you will have a happy New Year. . . I would not mind a trip to Australia to have a look round, and then go back till the war is over.  I suppose you would be surprised to hear I was on my way home.  I think there will be trouble enough in Egypt before it is all over, but they will be sorry they ever started if they get the Anzacs amongst them; how we would enjoy a good open go, it would be glorious after trench fighting.  When you are in the trenches you are like a trombone, you have a go-in every now and again and there is a tearing row.  You have to be able to run like a red shanks to get anywhere near them once they see the cold steel coming.  They will advance under shell fire, rifle fire, or machine gun fire, but they won't face the bayonet.  There is no fun about any of it, although you never see Australians downhearted.  The Gurkhas calls us the “white Gurkhas”; they like to get with Australians. 

I received the parcel sent by Mother, and feel what a good kind mother is.  Many a time on a dark night standing at my post when there was no sound but the boom of guns and whistle of bullets, when one had to be exposed watching and waiting for any move the Turks might make I used to wish to be spared for her sake.  I hope she does not worry about me.  I am glad Tom got home and hope he will stay for a while.  I must now close as I feel tired; I am not as strong as I used to be, but expect soon to be quite right again. “

Germany: Australian Prisoner of War (POW)
944 Private Walter Henry Mills
, 25 Battalion.[5]
Life Summary:

Walter Henry Mills (1886-1961) was the eldest son of Walter James Mills (1858-1896) and Maria Hussey (1858-1959) and was born on Bribie Island on 23 Sep 1886. Walter’s younger brothers Thomas James Mills [170] and John Robert Mills [2262] also enlisted.

Walter Henry Mills and Ada Burrell
on their wedding day 17 May 1919.

After his military service, Walter Mills married Ada Burrell at Wooloowin, Brisbane on 17 May 1919. The couple settled at Caboolture where they raised their family and Walter worked as a carpenter. By 1951, the couple were living at Charles Street, Caboolture when Ada Mills, aged 63, passed away.

By 1954 Walter Mills had moved away from Caboolture. Walter Mills married Isabella Pratt on 4 Sep 1954[7] and they lived at Tygalgah via Murwillumbah where Walter Mills assisted in farm work until illness forced him to retire. Walter Mills, aged 74, died 6 Sep 1961 at the Tweed District Hospital. Walter Mills is remembered on the Eumundi & District Roll of Honour Board, Eumundi and the Maroochy Shire Honour Roll, Nambour.[8]

[1] Photo and caption: State Library of Queensland M946/36 http:/​/​​10462/​eadarc/​2086 View related images: http:/​/​​10462/​comp/​8394
[3] Australian War Memorial 25th Australian Infantry Battalion
[4] Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser, Fri 4 Feb 1916, p. 7
[5] Photo taken by the Red Cross Society. Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P03236.037
[6] Photo source: Kunde family - Walter Mills youngest daughter Wilma Mills married Gavin Kunde in 1949.
[7] Source: Marriage notice. Courier Mail Fri 10 Sep 1954 p. 20

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