Charles Mills

RBS remembers 1914-1918



Charles Mills

Bank: Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co

Place of work: London Lombard Street office

Died: 6 October 1915

Charles Thomas Mills, known to his family as Charlie Tom, was born on 13 March 1887. He was the elder son of Charles William Mills, 2nd Baron Hillingdon, and his wife Alice Harbord. He had a younger brother, Arthur Robert Mills.

Mills was educated at New Beacon preparatory school, Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. While at university he was a keen sportsman, representing Oxford in the varsity golf matches in 1907 and 1908. He took his degree in 1908.

He joined Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co as a partner in January 1910. Despite onerous outside commitments he was actively involved in day-to-day business at the bank. One account fondly recalled the renown he had won with the bank’s clerks in an incident in which he had chased a thief out of the bank, finally stopping him by dragging him to the pavement in Lombard Street.

In 1910 - the same year as he entered the bank - Mills entered parliament with a resounding majority, as the Conservative member representing Uxbridge. For his first two years in that office, he was the youngest member, known as the ‘Baby of the House’. He was an active parliamentarian, speaking frequently on varied matters, including women’s suffrage, which he staunchly opposed in a speech in 1910. When asked how he managed to juggle his duties as a politician and a banker, he explained that he worked 14-hour days; all day at the bank and then all evening in parliament. He continued to represent Uxbridge until his death.

He was also an Alderman of Middlesex County Council, a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex and a director of Marine Insurance Company, The Niger Company, Union Bank of Australia and North British & Mercantile Insurance Company.

For some years before the outbreak of the First World War Mills served as a Lieutenant in the Queen’s Own West Kent Yeomanry but in 1915 - anxious to be sent overseas on active service as soon as possible - he arranged to be reassigned to the Scots Guards. Just before his regiment departed for France in June 1915, he was given a send-off by friends and colleagues in his constituency, at which he remarked: ‘I hope you will be good enough to think of me while I am away. I hope that you will pray that, above all things, I shall do my duty, very humbly it may be, and bring no disgrace upon you and upon my friends down here.’

In September 1915 Mills spent a week on leave at home, to see off his younger brother Arthur, who was about to depart for the Dardenelles with the West Kent Yeomanry. On 6 October 1915, during the Battle of Loos, he was struck in the head and killed by a piece of shrapnel. He was 28 years old.

Mills' Colonel subsequently wrote to Lady Hillingdon, 'I deeply regret to have to write and tell you that your son was killed in action yesterday. In him we have lost, not only a dear friend, but one of the best officers in the Battalion. He was a born leader, and the men were devoted to him. For the last two days his trench was subjected to a very heavy bombardment; the trench was being constantly blown in, burying and killing the men. He was up and down the trench all the time, encouraging the men to hold on and setting a splendid example. His death was instantaneous, as he was struck in the head by a fragment of a shell.' His friend Sidney Peel recalled, 'No one could be with him and be sad. Laughter and cheerfulness of the most infectious kind flowed from him perpetually.'

Mills was the sixth Member of Parliament to be killed in action in the First World War, and one of four who died in a single fortnight.

 

Comments

 

Charles Mills May 21 2015 1:16AM

Rest in Peace

 

 

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