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Village History

The mystery of Mr Mills

Posted on February 29 2016 at 1:24:14 0 comments

Bryan Mills

A woman who found a hidden photograph of a Barnt Green man killed in World War II is seeking help to return it to his family.

Mary Fisher, who grew up in Sutton Coldfield but now lives in Bradford, discovered the picture hidden behind a studio portrait of her late grandparents – written on the back was “Mr Mills’ son, killed in Sicily”.

Using the clues of the man’s uniform, surname and place of death, Mary decided to do some research. “First I called my elderly aunt in New Zealand, who has an excellent memory,” she recalls.

“She had no idea about Mr Mills but told me that my grandparents and their friends were firmly entrenched in the Birmingham area.”

With the aid of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Mary was able to put a name to the face: Bryan Wallace Mills, born in 1916 and killed in action in 1943.

The history of the Royal Devon Yeomanry revealed that he was serving as Command Post Officer in no.384 battery of the Regiment four miles north of the village of Valguarnera.

On July 18 a German shell landed near his truck, and he died of his wounds two days later.

Mary went on to discover that Bryan’s family lived at ‘Kandy’, 12 Bittell Lane, Barnt Green. His parents were Edgar Frank Mills, a clothing manufacturer, and Sarah Maria Mills (neé Wallace).

She also found two siblings: Norah Lilian Mills, born 1911, and Derek Cartland Mills, born 1919. Derek died in 1940 as a result of a road accident.

There’s also a copy of Bryan’s will, probate of which was made to Edna Rita Vera Mills (neé Webster), whom he married in 1941.

“I don’t know if my family had a connection with Barnt Green, but my grandfather and Bryan’s dad belonged to the same masonic lodge.” says Mary.

“Why the photo was hidden is still a mystery, but I feel that it should really be with his family if any descendants can be found.”

Do you know of the Mills family? Get in touch via the usual addresses.


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