MILLS, John Craig

NAME:  John Craig MILLS

SERVICE NO:  1455

YEAR OF BIRTH: 1895

PLACE OF BIRTH:  Hamilton

DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 1 December 1914

PLACE OF ENLISTMENT:  Hamilton

AGE AT ENLISTMENT:  19

UNIT: 14th Battalion, 2nd Reinforcement

EMBARKED: 2 February 1915

TROOPSHIP:  HMAT A46 Clan Macgillivray

FATE:  Returned to Australia – 11 March 1916

John Mills was born in Hamilton in 1895, a son of William Mills and Margaret Stewart and twin of Florence.  William Mills was a grocer with John Thomson & Co. and they lived in Hamilton Place and John attended Hamilton State School.  In 1909, William died leaving Margaret with eight children. The family moved to French Street and then by 1914 to Clarke Street.  John served with the 71st Infantry Citizen Forces in Hamilton. He enlisted at the age of nineteen on 1 December 1914 and left with the 14th Battalion, 2nd reinforcement on 2 February 1915.  They went first to Egypt then on to Gallipoli.

An attack on Hill 971 by the 4th Brigade was planned for 8 August.  Before the battalions including the 14th Battalion took up their positions for their advance, there was a church service in Reserve Gully where the battalion had been located since the start of August.

CHURCH SERVICE FOR THE 4TH BRIGADE, RESERVE GULLY, GALLIPOLI, AUGUST 1915, Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C327039

They then began an advance to Hill 971.

HILL 971, GALLIPOLI. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C372251

Sometime during their final advance to the summit of Hill 971, John received a gunshot wound to the leg, fracturing his tibia. He was transferred to the 21st General Hospital at Alexandria and then to England. His injury was so severe, he was marked for early discharge and sent home to Australia arriving on 11 March 1916.  He was admitted to the Caufield Repatriation Hosptial (No 11 Australian General Hospital) for further treatment.

John returned to Hamilton by the afternoon train on 28 April 1916. A large crowd met him at the railway station and others lined Brown Street as his car made its way to the Town Hall where the Hamilton Pipe Band were playing. When he got up to speak, John said it was the proudest moment of his life and he would never forget the reception he had received.  John returned to hospital and several times over the next few months was charged with being Absent Without Leave.  

After he was discharged from the army, John got work in the hotel trade. On 10 January 1918, he was living at the Mechanics Hotel in Bourke Street, Melbourne. In 1919, he was at Victoria Hotel Macarthur.  On the 1919 Electoral Roll, his occupation at that time was given as billiard hall proprietor.

THE VICTORIA HOTEL, MACARTHUR. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/232530

Margaret Mills died at Hamilton in 1923 and by 1925, John was back in Melbourne living and working as a barman at the Greyhound Hotel at 1 Brighton Road, St Kilda. He later moved to 126 Barkly Street, St Kilda.

It appears John never fully recovered from his broken leg. He returned to the Caufield Repatriation Hospital where he died on 13 April 1930 aged thirty-five. He was buried at the Cheltenham Cemetery.

CAULFIELD REPATRIATION HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/381827

Family Notices (1930, April 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved May 13, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4081497

ONLINE RESOURCES

Australian War Memorial – 14th Battalion Unit Diary

Australian War Memorial- WW1 Embarkation Roll – John Craig Mills

Discovering Anzacs – WW1 Service Record – John Craig Mills

Newspaper Articles from Trove – John Craig Mills

The AIF Project – John Craig Mills