Walter Leslie MILLS


MILLS, Walter Leslie

Service Number: 5058
Enlisted: 2 February 1916, Melbourne, Vic.
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 22nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Winton, Victoria, 1898
Home Town: Violet Town, Strathbogie, Victoria
Schooling: Lurg State School
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Accidental (Injuries), France, Belgium, 3 June 1917
Cemetery: Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Benalla War Memorial, Euroa Telegraph Park, Mooroopna Shepparton News Calendar & Pictorial Honour Roll of Fallen Heroes, Violet Town Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

2 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5058, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Melbourne, Vic.
3 Jul 1916: Involvement Private, SN 5058, 22nd Infantry Battalion
3 Jul 1916: Embarked Private, SN 5058, 22nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ayrshire, Melbourne

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MILLS Walter Leslie 5058 PTE
22nd Battalion

Although parental consent was necessary for under-age applications for war service, there is no evidence of this in Walter’s war records. He was only 18 ½ years old when he enlisted on 3 February 1916. Walter’s older brother Jim, enlisted 4 days later.  Two more sons and two daughters lived on the farm at Tamleugh with their parents Thomas and Mary Ann (Sivyer).

After initial training which took him up to July, Walter embarked on HMAT Ayrshire for Plymouth. After more training in England, he embarked on SS Victoria for France where he was taken on strength of the 22nd Battalion on 4 December 1916.

It was on 1 June 1917 when the battalion was engaged in hostilities in Flanders that Walter was killed. According to Red Cross files he was wounded on 1 June and died the following day.

A witness states that Walter ‘was a Brigade gunner.  He came from Victoria in the 13th Reinforcements to the 22nd Battalion. He had fair hair, big build, aged about 20.  He was at a Brigade training post behind Bullecourt and was practising with a “Stokes” gun. There was a faulty fuse, and it went off, and blew him up . . .  Mills died of wounds on the spot as far as I know.’

Quoting from his service records ‘a court of enquiry held on 11 June found that he was accidentally wounded caused by a premature explosion of a bomb from the muzzle of a Stokes Mortar. That no blame is attached to anyone.’

Walter was buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension (Plot V1, Row F, Grave No 1).

Service Medals: British War Medal     Victory Medal

Memorials:            Memorial Scroll and Plaque
                            Main Honour Board, Memorial Hall, Violet Town
                            Copper Plaque affixed to exterior wall, Memorial Hall, Violet town

Commemoration: Panel number 97, Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial.

Tree no 33 was planted in 1917 by F Mills

In 2013 a Ceratonia siliqua - Carob Tree - was planted by Alice Bull.

© 2016 Sheila Burnell


Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

 Son of Thomas and Mary MILLS, Tamleugh, Violet Town, Victoria.

The following letter has been received by Mrs. T. Mills, of Tamleugh, mother of the late Private Mills (who was 19 years of age and enlisted 12 months  ago), written by the chaplain with the forces at the front on 13/6/17:—
Dear Mrs Mills - by this time you will have heard of the death of your dear son. He was brought into hospital seriously wounded, and everything was  done that could be by dootors and nurses to save his life. I gave him the last sacramonts when he was consoious but in a very drowsy condition, but  still he understood everything and repeated the prayers after me. He died early in the morning. I buried him in the military cemetery amongst the other brave lads. It ia a consolation to know that he died on his bed with the priest with him.
He even received Holy Communion before he became quite unconscious. I am very sorry for you in every way especially as you are to far away and the  poor boy so far from you. It is a great sorrow, one of the great sacrifices of this war. May God bless and help you. — Yours faithfully, W. S. HOUNIBALL, C J, Catholic Chaplain 56th CCS. B.E.F.

Private Walter Mills, son of Mr and Mrs. Mills, is reported to have died of wounds at the casualty changing station. He was 19 years old and sailed for the front in July, '16. The young soldier was of a kindly and light-hearted disposition, which won the friendship of all who knew him. Prior to enlisting he was employed as a porter on the Victorian Railways. He left in company with Private Vidler, of Euroa (who died on the voyage over).