Friday 23 September 2016

Day Eighty Five on the Somme

A sketch of G P Mills in his cycling days

Saturday 23rd September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

We have heard from the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, that they are preparing to go into action again. This will be their third attack on the Somme, following Delville Wood and Longueval on 27th July and then Falfemont Farm between 3rd and 6th of this month.

We heard that Captain Leslie Keep of 7th Battalion was inspecting the area around Thiepval a few days ago. His battalion is now on the move. This morning they marched from Raincheval to Varennes, a few miles behind the lines. This afternoon the second-in-command Major G P Mills has inspected reserve trenches near Thiepval.

George Pilkington Mills made something of a name for himself before the war as a champion cyclist. Born in 1867 he made a number of trips from land’s End to John O’Groats by bicycle, at times holding the World record time for the distance. He also won the first race for bicyclists from Bordeaux to Paris in 1891. He then began to race automobiles and motor bicycles. Having joined the army in 1889 he retired as a major in 1906 before volunteering at the outbreak of this war.

Source: X550/2/5; X550/8/1

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