Alec Mills - “Lest We Forget”

Alec Mills WW1 200x253

MILLS Alec WW1 Service History

MILLS Alec WW1 Service Record
National Archives of Australia - 10 Pages 1.0MB
AIF Project_MILLS Alec

Extract from ‘Millbrae and its Founding Family’ by May Mills

Jack and Alec enlisted next, and much of their training was done on the Salisbury Plain (England). Mother delighted in their letters which described various famous places she had known so well in her girlhood; and she treasured the scraps of holly, ivy, and so on, that were enclosed.
Then came France and the trenches. Before the Battle of Bullecourt and Norieul, Jack, Alec and Hugh Kelly (an old school “pal” from Prince Alfred College) volunteered for a particular machine gun section, needing three men to-each gun. Only volunteers were taken for this. At the offensive, near Norieul, Jack, being tall (over six feet), was mortally wounded at the beginning of the “hop-over”. The other two had to leave him. They unstrapped his section of the gun. and went on. Hugh was the next to fall — also fatally wounded; and a little later Alec’s right shoulder joint was completely blasted away. But he was amongst the fifty who reached, and held, the objective until reinforcements arrived.
Alec was taken back to London and there in St. George’s Hospital, over a period often months, he underwent operation after operation to give him some resilience and use in his right arm — possibly with a good deal of benefit, for in after years, was able, partly to use the arm. In 1918 he was invalided at home, and great was the rejoicing as we drove, in the well-filled Chevrolet, down to meet the boat. Unfortunately on that well-known Davis Hill, who should get in the way but Bullocky Will with his team! In his haste to move his bullocks, he cracked his whip soundly, not realizing that the lash had entered the back of the car, and wrapped itself around the neck of one of us. That neck, however, was strong, and although a great red weal showed up brightLy for days, no real harm was done. But the incident did somewhat dampen our spirits.
Alec’s shoulder eventually permitted him to use his arm for some things, but he never could raise it, nor use it for anything strenuous. He persisted until he taught himself to use his left hand and arm almost as effectively as he had originally used his right, playing Tennis and doing all the usual things about the farm. But when breaking-in horses, he strapped his right arm to his waist so that he would not, involuntarily, try to use it.
What courageous and adaptable people came out of the War!