Cpl 13042 Cyrus Jack Mills

Cyrus Mills was born in 1893 to Cyrus and Caroline Milles at St Austell, Cornwall.

Once he left school he worked in a grocers shop run by Mr Box and he was a committed Methodist, singing in the choir of the Zion United Methodist Church. At the declaration of war he immediately volunteered joining the Essex Regiment.

He was allocated to the A Company of the 12th Battalion Essex Regiment for training at Harwich and in January 1915 moved with the battalion to the White City in London.

Cyrus was clearly a good recruit as he was promoted to Corporal and as the battalion moved to White City he was sent to the School of Musketry at Hythe for training that would enable him to be promoted to Sergeant.

At the end of January 1915 he wrote home telling his parents that he was in good health and spirits but a few days later he felt unwell and was taken to Shorncliffe Hospital where he died on 5 February 1911 from cerebrospinal fever.

This fever carried a high mortality rate and was made a notoifiable disease in 1912.There was an outbreak in 1915 among army personnel thought to be spread by crowded living condition in the camps of the new armies under training. Cyrus was one of the first of many men to die from this fever. The army were able to get the outbreak under control although there were to be fresh outbreaks in 1917 claiming many civilian and armed service victims.

According to the practice of the time his parents were given the choice of a military or local funeral and opted for him to be buried at home in St Austell.

The coffin was escorted by 52 men from the 9th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry to the Cemetery Chapel where United Methodist Minister, Rev E A Coome conducted the burial service before a large crowd of synpathisers.

Mourners included Lieutenant Gillingham representing the 12th Battalion.

As Cyrus had only been in the army for 5 months his family was denied the war gratuity which was only payable after 6 months servce and so his father was given £3 2sh 4d owned in wages.

Tragically for the family, just a week later Private Alick March, 4th Batt DCLI who was a cousin of Cyrus Mills who was serving at Karachi, India also living in St Austell also died from the fever .