Sunday, 3 May 2015

We Will Remember Them: Thomas Alexander Mills d. 3 May 1915

The first person that this series will be remembering is the second cousin of my step-great grandmother, the attached chart shows how we are related. Although at the time of Private T.A. Mills death she was a widow who was yet to marry my recently widowed great grandfather.

Thomas Mills was the son of a military man, his father Alexander had fought during the Boer War with the 1st Inniskillings being awarded the King's Medal with two clasp, Queen's Medal with five clasps and Distinguished Service Medal. Unlike many of the young men who will be featured in this series he was a member of His Majesty's Forces before the declaration of war having signed up two weeks earlier.

The Helles Memorial, Turkey where he is remembered
He joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Plymouth Division) and it was with them that he formed part of the 29th Division that engaged in the initial landings in the Dardanelles on 25th April 1915. The campaign is better known today by the name of the peninsula where the Allied Forces got pinned down for months without advancing; Gallipoli.

Just over a week after the initial landings he was declared missing, his father sought further information, but as too many soldiers from the naval division of the army were listed as missing at the time there was a just a standard response.

On Friday 4th August 1916 in First Derry Presbyterian Church his name was among those read out in an act of remembrance for the young men of the City who had already given their lives during the first 2 years of this War. The location of this service means that it was very possible that many of my family on both my father's and mother's sides could have been present as both their father's families worshiped in that church around this time.

The tragedy for the family didn't end with the end of the war abroad. On 23 June 1920 while walking through the streets on the city side of Londonderry his mother Margaret Mills (née Mowbray) was shot in the chest and died as a result of the wounds there had been gunfire in the area around Bishop Street all day and the inquest had asked if the bullet could have come from the predominantly unionist Waterside area across the River Foyle, but found that it probably had come from the republicans on the Cityside. She was an unfortunate victim of the civil war that still saw many members of my family living surrounded by the republicans on the west bank around the Fountain and Abercorn Road. The Mills at this time were living on Orchard Row just off Foyle Road.

Pvt. Thomas Alexander Mills, Royal Marine Light Infantry, Plymouth Bttn. Royal Naval Division
Born Londonderry City, Ireland 1 Mar 1897
Died Gallipoli, Ottoman Empire (Turkey) 3 May 1915

We will remember him

The Royal Marine Light Infantry during the War

The Royal Marines had been founded in 1664 and men had been billeted in Plymouth, the Division in which Thomas was attached, since the formation. In 1855 the marine infantry forces had been renamed the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI) and from that time they were set up to lead on landings on foreign and hostile shores to act as the initial wave as skirmishers.

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