MILLS, Thomas

Private Thomas Mills
242958 2/5th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers

235450 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards)

Thomas was born in 1879 at Jacksdale, son of Owen Mills an iron works labourer born Derby and his wife Mary (nee Swain) born Jacksdale, Notts. His father previously lived in West Leake, Notts and was an agricultural labourer, but the 1871 Census notes that he was ‘out of work’. Owen obviously seized the chance of employment at the Butterley Company’s Codnor Park Forge and moved to the Jacksdale area in the early 1870’s. In 1874 he married local girl Mary Swain and took up home at Stone Row, Jacksdale:  cottages built to house iron works employees.  Their first child Frances was born in about 1878 and Thomas was their second born in 1879. Brothers and sisters Mary Anne, Joseph, George, Leslie and Edith Nellie followed.

From the mid 1870’s the family continued to live at Stone Row. In 1903 Thomas’s father Owen died, aged only 53 so his widow Mary and family left their tied cottage moving to Main Road, Jacksdale. In 1909 his mother Mary also died, aged 57. Both of his parents are buried at Westwood, St. Mary’s. In 1911 Thomas had assumed the role of head of the household, his younger brothers and sisters living with him. His sister Annie (Mary Anne) kept house.

Thomas enlisted with the Northumberland Fusiliers on 20th October 1916 at Derby, aged 37 years and 8 months.  He was 5” 4″ in height, and gave his sister Annie Mills of Main Road, Jacksdale as his next of kin. On enlistment he gave his religion as Church of England and his occupation as ‘caretaker council schools’, so Thomas was possibly the first caretaker of Jacksdale School, which was built in 1908, as this was also his place of work in 1911.

Thomas served at home in the UK until 16th Jun 1917 when he embarked from Folkestone, Kent for Boulogne, Etaples as part of the British Expeditionary Force. On 1st July 1917 he was transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment. His service record notes he boarded a train for Italy on 8th November 1917. He served in France for 145 days and Italy for 1 year and 60 days. On 20th October 1918 he was granted 2 weeks leave in the UK and was detained in England whilst on leave for demobilization. His official discharge date was 8th February 1919 when he was transferred to the ‘class Z’ reserve. Thomas was a recipient of the British War and Victory Medals.