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Remembered Today:

2nd Lt. Ben Holt Mills, Manchesters, died 29/4/17

Mark Hone

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I am trying to find out more about the circumstances of this officer's death during the Battle of Arras on 29th April 1917. Aged 22 and an old boy of Bury Grammar School, he is buried at Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery. CWGC give his battalion as 5th Manchesters but other documentation mentions 6th and 17th.

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War Diary: 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment 30th Division

18.4.17 The Battn marched to MERCATEL Area leaving STAMAND at 12 noon, arriving at the HINDENBERG System of Trenches at 4AM on the 19.4.17. (NEAR NEUVILLE VITASSE)

19.4.17 The Bn moved into the Bde right sub sector (south of WANCOURT) - D Coy - RIGHT Front Coy, B Coy Left Front Coy - 'A+C" Coys in support. Bn was fitted with stores for offensive action - Casualties during this period 2nd Lt F.E. HOLMES W in A. ?/20.4.17 6 OR K in A. 13 OR W in A. 2nd Lt J.R. BAYLEY proceeded to ENGINEER's Training Centre NEWARK for course of instruction. a/19.4.17 - Major E FEARENSIDE having rejoined the Battn is taken on strength d/18.4.17.

23.4.17 4.45AM The Battn attacked - The following casualties were sustained: Lt G.F. POTTS K in A. 2nd Lt PALMER K in A. The following Officers Wounded in Action: A/Capt H.J. COLE. A/Capt T. CARTMAN. Lt J.H. CHADWICK. 2nd Lt A.T.S HOLT. 2nd Lt W.P SMITH. 2nd Lt W.F. SWIFT. 2nd Lt F.A. ORRITT. 2nd Lt J. BROADBENT. 2nd Lt R.J. JACKMAN. 2nd Lt F.A. RAYNOR. 2nd Lt B.H. MILLS - 10 OR KILLED in ACTION 105 OR WOUNDED. 168 OR MISSING.

Operation Order No 26 22.4.17

1. The 3rd Army will attack on the 23rd inst., the 30th Div. frontage extending from N.30.B.2.10 to N.35.B.1.6. The 33rd Div. is on the Right and the 50th Div. on the left.

2. The 90th Inf. Bde. will carry out the attack with the 2nd R.S. Fus. on the Left and the 17th Bn. Manchester Regiment on the Right. Bn frontage approx as follows

2/R.S.F N.30.B.2 to N.29.D..8.6

17th Manch. Regt., N.29.D.8.6 to N.35.B.1.6

This Bn frontage being approx 400x.

3. Attack to commence at ZERO which will be notified later

CWGC: 2nd Lt Ben Holt Mills DOW 29.4.1917


Edited by helpjpl
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Thanks. As I suspected he was with 17th; another Bury Grammar School 'Pal'. His fellow BGS old boy, Tom Cartman, was wounded in the same action and was subsequently awarded the MC. An interesting statistic is that of the total number of Bury Grammar School old boys known to have served in the Great War, around 15% died. For those who fought with the various Manchester Pals battalions the death rate was over 60%.

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My history of the battalion (published by Reveille Press) has a reasonably detailed account of the day - the official accounts being supplemented by Alan Holt's account of his wounding and capture and the CO's letter to the family of Geoffrey Potts.

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Just to round off the MC awards, a third went to RSM Coates. By the by, Holt's MC remains with the family.

There was also a DSO, two DCMs and seven MMs.

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