Submitted by John H Mills – who wanted to tell the story of his grandfather.
Herbert Mills was born on 16th May 1879 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, four months before his parents were married. Shortly after the marriage his mother and father separated his father got into trouble with the Law, abandoned them and departed for America. Herbert and his mother went to live with her parents.
In 1891 he was still living with his grandparents and in 1911, age 31, he was living with his Aunt (his mother’s sister). He married in 1913 and had a son in 1914. His son went on to join the RASC in 1939.
Herbert, age 35, volunteered in Lord Kitchener’s “Volunteer Army”. He had been married less than two years and had a one year old son. He was a Power Loom Weaver in a woollen mill. He enlisted in Huddersfield on 4th June 1915. His Attestation puts him in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Mental Assistant and posted to RAMC 92nd Field Ambulance Unit, Crookham, Aldershot.
He was posted to the, 15th Northumberland Fusiliers in August 1915.
From August to September 1915 he was stationed at Hamersley, Physical Training Base Aldershot, and from September 1915 to March 1916 at Rugeley Camp, Cannock Chase. Rugeley Camp was a training camp which replicated the trenches in France and was used for training soldiers prior to embarking to the Front Line. He was promoted Corporal in November 1915.
In March 1916 he was posted to France where after only three weeks he was returned home to the Reading War Hospital where he spent twelve days, having suffered a detached retina of the right eye and diagnosed with myopic astigmatism.
After leaving hospital he rejoined the 15th Northumberland Fusiliers at Aldershot. He was promoted Sergeant in May 1916. In September 1916 the 15th Battalion was absorbed into Training Reserve Battalions of the 1st Reserve Brigade. He was appointed Provost in October 1916.
In December 1917 he was transferred to the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. The transfer was annotated “compulsory” on his service record.
His service record also records that he was embarked for “Syren” [the code name for the British North Russia Expeditionary Force sent for service at Murmansk, Russia] on 16th October 1918 and disembarked Murmansk 28th November 1918.
He returned to England from Archangel in June 1919.
In the same month he was put on charge for being absent without permission from midnight to 11.00 hrs the following day. [He was probably out celebrating his release from the Hell of Russia and the sea voyages, and his imminent release from the British Army]. For this misdemeanour he was “Severely Reprimanded”.
He was Demobilised 2nd August 1919 and transferred to Class Z Army Reserve.
He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal in respect of his service with the Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards).
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Bert Brocklesby, a school teacher from Doncaster, applied for exemption from military service early in 1916 on religious grounds. Bert went before his local and appeal Tribunals in February and April 1916, and was given exemption from Combatant Service Only by both. To Bert, this was an unacceptable decision – joining the Army, even in a Non-Combatant role meant going against his deeply held conscientious belief that war in all forms was a crime. He was arrested as an absentee after refusing to obey the order to report to his nearby barracks to be enlisted into the Non Combatant Corps. Bert refused to compromise his principles in any way, and did not even take the step of signing his Army papers – denying the military authorities even this rudimentary control over his life. For making this stand, and for disobeying other orders, Bert was Court Martialled and would soon become one of a group of Absolutists (known as the ‘Richmond 16’) sent to France from Richmond Castle, Yorkshire, as military prisoners. It seems that Bert managed to drop a cleverly edited field service postcard out of the train while being transferred to France for further punishment. This postcard alerted Bert’s local MP (who sympathised with the principles behind Bert’s objection to military service) that men were being transferred to the combat zone, where, considered to be on active service, they could be sentenced to death for disobeying orders. Bert would find this out on arrival at Henriville Camp, Northern France….
Molly Copland visited the Green Howards Museum to tell us about her uncle Arthur Edward Arnett. Arthur Arnett was born in Wakefield on 3rd July 1896 and was educated at Sanda Elementary School and Leeds Central High School before working as a Junior Clerk at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment on 17th February 1916, serving with the British Expeditionary Force from 28th June. Following a transfer to the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment Arthur was wounded at the Somme around 11th September 1916. He spent five weeks in hospital before being sent back to England, eventually returning to France with the 6th Yorks and Lancs on 18th March 1917. After transferring to the 10th Battalion following losses at the Battle of Loos, Arthur was killed in action at Gheluvelt on 28th September 1917 and is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery in Belgium.
Steven Shackleton told us about his great uncle, Thomas Edwards from Ironbridge. During the First World War, Tommy Edwards was a Corporal in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Prior to the war he had served as 86589 Pte T Edwards with the Territorial Reserve Battalion. He served with the 10th KOYLI and then transfered to the 2nd KOYLI before he was killed in action on 30th September 1918, aged 19. He is buried at Bellicourt British Cemetery in France. His mother was Mrs Francis Edwards of Hoylake, Cheshire and had the following inscription added to the bottom of his headstone: ‘Peace, perfect peace’.