Thomas Hamlyn (Tom) MILLS

Poppy

MILLS, Thomas Hamlyn

Service Number: 1588
Enlisted: 12 April 1915, Box Hill, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 24th Infantry Battalion
Born: Mangalore, Victoria, 1894
Home Town: White Hills, Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: White Hills State School
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, Gallipoli, 28 September 1915
Cemetery: Lone Pine Cemetery, ANZAC
Originally Browns Dip Cemetery - reinterred into the Lone Pine Cemetery.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, White Hills Arch of Triumph, White Hills Baptist Church
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World War 1 Service

12 Apr 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1588, Box Hill, Victoria
25 Jun 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1588, 24th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
25 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1588, 24th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ceramic, Melbourne
28 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1588, 24th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Thomas Hamlyn Mills SN 1588

To our gallant men of all ranks; to those who gained distinctions; to those who deserved distinctions, but in the fortunes and misfortunes of war did not receive them, to those who went through the campaign and came back to love and home, to those who bear the marks and endure the afflictions of wounds, but most of all to those who laid down their lives in the great cause, all honour and praise.

(Source – Forward to Harvey, W.J. (1920) The Red and White Diamond: Authorised History of the 24th Battalion Australian Imperial Force.

Private Tom Mills was one of eight Australian Imperial Forces killed on September 28, 1915 on the cliffs of Gallipoli. He was buried initially at Brown’s Dip Cemetery which was in the depression at the head of Victoria Gully on a major thoroughfare to the front line along Artillery Road. The cemetery contained the remains of 149 Australian soldiers.

After the war, Brown’s Dip cemetery was initially identified to remain as a permanent cemetery. However the site was unstable and prone to erosion and landslides. So in 1923 the soldiers at Brown’s Dip were moved to the new Lone Pine Cemetery where they were re-interred in the Brown’s Dip Plot.

Tom Mills enlisted at Box Hill in the Shire of Nunawading, east of Melbourne on April 12, 1915. He was born in Seymour in 1894 however; he listed his Nearest of Kin as his father John Mills who lived at Bobs Street, White Hills. John Mills was married to Amie E Mills, who Tom had nominated to receive 3 shillings per diem from his daily wage whilst in the AIF service.     

Tom had just turned 21 in the prior month of March, which meant he did not require his parent’s permission as was the requirement at this early stage of the war. 

Tom listed his occupation as a farmer and we read in the Bendigo papers that he had been a market gardener in the Box Hill area for two years before enlisting.

Tom would go into the Broadmeadows camp three days later on April 15, being assigned to the 1st Reinforcements of the newly formed 24th Battalion on May 5, 1915.  He would embark from Port Melbourne with the 24th Battalion on HMAT Ceramic  A40 on June 25, 1915.

The 24th Battalion was raised in May 1915 at Broadmeadows Camp in Victoria, as a unit of the all-volunteer Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Along with the 21st, 22nd and 23rd Battalion, the 24th formed part of the 6th Brigade, which was assigned to the 2nd Division. It had originally been planned that the battalion would be raised from personnel drawn from outside of Victoria and it was designated as an "outer states" battalion meaning that it would draw its recruits from the less populous states of Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia; however, due to the large number of recruits that had arrived at Broadmeadows at the time it was decided to raise the battalion there, from Victorian volunteers. As a result of the hasty decision to raise the battalion very little training was carried out before the battalion sailed from Melbourne just a week after being formed.                       (Source – Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24th_Battalion_(Australia) )

Organised into four rifle companies, designated 'A' through to 'D', with a machine gun section in support, the battalion had an authorised strength of 1,023 men of all ranks. After arriving in Egypt, the 24th completed its training during July and August before being sent to Gallipoli in early September as reinforcements for the forces that had landed there in April. Arriving on the peninsula on 4 September, the 24th served in the Lone Pine sector, taking over responsibility for the front line the on 12 September. The position was very close to the Turkish trenches and was hotly contested. The position was so tenuous, that the troops holding it had to be rotated regularly, and as a result the 24th spent the remainder of the campaign rotating with the 23rd Battalion to hold the position against determined Turkish mining operations. The battalion remained at Gallipoli for three months until the evacuation of Allied troops took place in December 1915.                             (Source – Wikipedia-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24th_Battalion_(Australia)  )

Thomas was killed on September 28 and we read in the Bendigo Advertiser that Thomas was killed just two days after being thrown into the firing line at the Lone Pine trenches. No report on the nature of Tom’s wound was recorded.

Private Thomas Hamlyn Mills is remembered by the people of White Hills. The names of the local lads who sacrificed their lives and those that were fortunate to return from the Great War are shown on the embossed copper plaques on the White Hills Arch of Triumph, at the entrance to the White Hills Botanic Gardens.

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