‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Date of Death:02/02/1916
Service No:18344
Regiment:King's Shropshire Light Infantry
Unit:5th Bn
Ypres(Menin Gate)Memorial
Panel Ref:Panel 49

James Henry Mills was born in Oldham in 1896. His parents were William & Mary. He was the middle of two brothers, the others being William and Charles. At the time of the 1901 census they were living in the Primrose Bank area of Oldham. At some point in the following ten years, William senior passed away as by 1911 they are living with John Turner on 7 Union Street, Royton. Mary is down as being widowed in the 1911 census and her two youngest sons - James and Charles are with her but listed as being John Turner's sons. James, 14 by now, was working as a piecer in a Cotton Mill. By the outbreak of war the family were at 100 Middleton Road (an address Fred Ludlam had earlier lived at)
A batch of volunteers from Royton were sent to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. Several of these were to be killed, along with James in the 5th Battalion at that time were Harry Wood,James Beaty & Leonard Newport.
They reached the battalion as reinforcements in early October 1915, the 5th had been at the front since May, James found himself allocated to A Company. They were in and out of the front line over the following months. James' last letter home, written shortly before his death, shows how unhappy he was with where he found himself:

"Just a few lines to let you know that I am in the best of health, hoping you are all the same at home. I received your letter and parcel on January 24th. I know that Jim Beaty got slightly wounded in the fingers. Our company relieved Jim's company and I saw him the same night. He did not go to the hospital and he is getting on alright now. They had a big bombardment and it is hell on earth. They are coming for hours at once, and sending trench mortars every night. The last time I was in the trenches I walked over three dead soldiers who had been riddled with bullets. It is nothing but murder here. When we have been on working parties we have had some one knocked out and that is more than we ever had at Ypres. We have lost more men here at once in the trenches than we did all the time we were at Ypres. I would sooner be in the trenches at Ypres than here"

On January 31st, the men of A (including James) & B Companies relieved men of the 9th King's Royal Rifle Corps in the front line. The following day James was shot by a sniper. He died of his wounds the following day. His grave was obviously one of those that were destroyed or lost during later fighting and he is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial (inscription below)