Frederick Arthur MILLS

MILLS, Frederick Arthur

Service Number: 2126
Enlisted: 16 March 1916, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 41st Infantry Battalion
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, 15 July 1896
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Caboolture State School
Occupation: Farm Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 10 June 1917, aged 20 years
Cemetery: Messines Ridge British Cemetery
Special Memorial Row A Grave 4
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Brisbane 41st Battalion Roll of Honour, Cleveland Redlands Honour Roll, Holland Park Mount Gravatt Roll of Honour, Redland Bay War Memorial, Tingalpa Shire Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

16 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2126, 41st Infantry Battalion, Brisbane, Queensland
7 Sep 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2126, 41st Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '18' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Clan McGillivray embarkation_ship_number: A46 public_note: ''
7 Sep 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2126, 41st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Clan McGillivray, Brisbane
10 Jun 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2126, 41st Infantry Battalion, Battle of Messines

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Frederick was killed in action on 10 Jun 1917, his brother, 2127 Pte. Albert Mills (/explore/people/227509) of the same Battalion, was killed in action, in the same place, on the following day.

Their eldest brother 3346 Pte. William John Richard Mills (/explore/people/120495), of the 52nd Battalion, was also killed in action in France, 10 months later, on 24 Apr 1918.


Biography contributed by Ian Lang

Bert and Fred Mills were brothers who enlisted on the same day, served in the same company in the same battalion, and were killed at the same moment in time. It therefore seems appropriate that their stories should be told together.

When Bert and Fred enlisted on 16th March 1916, Bert was 27and Fred 19. Both gave their occupation as farm labourers, although the Roll of Honour Circulars completed by their father indicated they were timber getters. Both brothers seemed to have connections with the Cleveland/Tingalpa district even though the address of the parents, William and Elizabeth was given as Post Office, Mount Gravatt.

After being drafted into the 41st Battalion, the brothers departed Brisbane on the “Clan McGillivray” on 7th September 1916; and arrived in Plymouth on 2nd November. By Christmas Day they were in the large British Camp at Etaples in France. On 4th January Bert was admitted to hospital with mumps and Fred was placed in the segregation camp (probably suspecting he may also be infected). Having recovered, the brothers arrived at their unit together on 18th February 1917.

Late winter and early spring of 1917 saw the 41st battalion rotating in and out of the line around Armentieres on the French Belgian Border. Training was also conducted and it is possible this is when both brothers became Lewis gunners. Haig wanted to move British operations north from the Somme to Flanders around the Ypres salient. The opening of this offensive was an assault on the Messines Ridge which began with the blowing of 19 underground mines and an artillery barrage of 3 and half million shells. The 41st Battalion were in the reserve trenches on the 7th June when the battle began.

On the 10th June, a party of men from “C” Company were carrying rations up to the men in the front line around 2:30am. The party was spotted and a German artillery barrage caught them in the open. One shell landed in among the party and two men; one of whom was Fred Mills, were killed instantly. Bert Mills sustained massive injuries and was taken to a nearby casualty clearing station where he subsequently died some 24 hours later.

Fred Mills was buried near to where he fell by the Chaplain Captain Mills (no apparent relation) and a temporary marker was placed on the grave. Bert was buried near the CCS where he died. The irony of this episode is that two brothers who had been so close through 9 months of military service would be buried in different locations. Bert was buried at Underhill Farm Cemetery in Ploegsteert. Fred’s remains were originally buried in the River Douvre Cemetery which was later incorporated into the Messines British Cemetery. During the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission, the actual location of some graves was lost, Fred’s was one of them. Instead of a headstone Fred’s name appears on a special collective memorial with the inscription: “Buried in this cemetery. Actual grave unknown.”

William and Elizabeth Mills received over time the personal effects of their sons. One poignant note was that Bert in his will had bequeathed his property to his mother, livestock to his brother Henry, and a colt named “Bachelor” to Miss Sarah Howie of Loganholme. Sarah may well have been Bert’s sweetheart.

William and Elizabeth Mills were to lose another son, William John at Villers Bretonneux. A letter from Bert’s sister; Mrs Thornley of Holland Street, Greenslopes to base records advised that Elizabeth Mills died in October 1921 and William senior had died three months later. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the loss of three sons may have contributed to their demise.

Fred, Bert and William Mills are also recorded on the Tingalpa Shire Roll of Honour, Mount Cotton Community Hall but their names do not appear on the Tingalpa Shire War memorial on the corner of Wynnum and Manly Roads.