Private 235475 William Blewitt Mills

Mills William Blewitt 96 370x500

Killed in Action on Thursday, 4th October 1917, age 20.
Commemorated on Panel 108 to 111 of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

10th Bn., King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. 64th Brigade of 21st Division.
Formerly 204495 Northumberland Fusiliers

Son of the late Mr Edwin Mills and Mrs Sophia Mills, of 22, Howard St., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1635406/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Blewitt Mills registered September quarter 1897 in Dudley.

1901 Census
Wellington Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Edwin Mills (age 39, Blacksmith, born West Bromwich), his wife Sophia (age 31, born Tipton), and their 6 children: Ethel (12, born Tipton), John (10, born Tipton), George (8, born Tipton), Esther (4, born Tipton), Willie (3, born Tipton), and May (1, born Tipton).

1911 Census
22 Howard Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Edwin Mills (age 48, Tool Smith, born West Bromwich), his wife Sophia (age 34, born Tipton) and their 7 surviving children of 9: Ethel (22, born Tipton), John (20, born Tipton), George (18, born Tipton), Elizabeth E. (14, born Tipton), Willie Blewitt (13, born Tipton), May (11, born Tipton), and Albert A. (3, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £1/15/3d (1 pound, 15 shillings and 3 pence); this was paid to his mother, Sophia, in September 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in January 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Broodseinde Ridge on 4th October 1917 was the third in Plumer's 'Bite and Hold' attacks in the third Battle of Ypres. The attack aimed to complete the capture of the Gheluvelt Plateau by the occupation of Broodseinde Ridge, allowing subsequent attacks on Passchendaele Ridge to the north-east.

At 6.00am, two brigades of the 21st Division attacked between the Menin Road and Polygon Wood. The going varied from marsh to hard ground which could support the four attached tanks and caused shells to ricochet. The 10th KOYLI, as part of 64th Brigade of the 21st Division, were involved in an attack to seize a portion of road just west of Reutel with the second objective (not reached) being the village of Reutel itself.

The right (64th) brigade advanced under heavy machine-gun fire and took Joist Farm before being obstructed by marshy ground and pillboxes to the right. British bombing sections attacked the pillboxes to reach the objective. Fire from a blockhouse at the east end of Reutel caused a delay until it was knocked out by a tank. A counter-attack was dispersed around noon by artillery and small-arms fire. Heavy fire from the Polderhoek spur caused many casualties in the 64th Brigade, which withdrew slightly to sheltered ground, without sacrificing the commanding position which protected the right flank of the Anzac corps further north.

The left brigade crossed the Polygonebeek and captured a portion of Juniper Trench and a pillbox. At Judge Trench the brigade consolidated; a further advance came under fire from Judge Copse but was able to dig in and hold the ground.

By 9.00 am most of the 21st Division's objectives had been taken, but at a cost of 2,616 casualties on the day. William Blewitt Mills was killed in action and has no known grave, he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Mills WB ReutelMap 96 Map courtesy Dr. Derek Clayton, author of "From Pontefract to Picardy: the 9th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the First World War." Highly Recommended.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 10th November 10th 1917
Private W.B. MILLS.
The mother of Private W.B. Mills, of 22 Howard Street, Tipton, has received the sad news of her son being missing. Before joining the army, Private Mills was a Baden Powell Scout, having joined when the Tipton 3rd Troop was formed under Scoutmaster Parsons. He had worked for Messrs Norton's Ltd, and travelled for Ashman and Preece Ltd, Stockton. He was called up on March 7th of the current year, and proceeded to France the second week in August.
Mrs Mills hopes that when copies of this newspaper go to France, some soldier in the field may be able to send her further particulars concerning her son.

Evening Despatch 14th December 1917
Missing Midlands Men.
News is sought of Private W.B. Mills, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, who has been missing since 4th October. His mother, Mrs. S. Mills, resides at 22, Howard Street, Tipton.

Birmingham Daily Gazette 12th August 1918
Mrs. E. Mills, 22 Howard Street, Tipton, would be glad to hear from any soldier who may know the circumstances under which her son, Private W.B. Mills, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, became "missing" on 3 October 1917. Private Mills, whose death is now presumed, was aged 20, and had only been in France five weeks.