The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1148) Private David George Mills, 8th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.117
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 27 April 2018
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (1148) Private David George Mills, 8th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1148 Private David George Mills, 8th Battalion, AIF
KIA 25 April 1915
Story delivered 27 April 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private David George Mills.

David Mills was born on 26 October 1891 at Mirboo North, Victoria, the third and youngest son of James and Margaret Mills. David’s father died when he was about seven years old, but he was described as being “of a most cheerful disposition, and had a smile for everyone at all times”.

Mills enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as soon as possible after the outbreak of war in 1914. He was accepted for active service, and went into camp at Broadmeadows to begin training. Shortly afterwards, however, he came down with the flu and became so sick that he was forced to see a doctor, who discharged him as medically unfit and sent him home. Mills reportedly returned home “ill and very dejected”, but as soon as he had recovered, he enlisted again.
Mills again began training in Australia with the 8th Battalion, and left for active service overseas with the Second Contingent. He wrote regular letters home to his family and friends, eventually with the news that he was leaving for the Dardanelles. In some of his last letters he wrote that “he felt certain he was going to his death”.

On 25 April 1915 the 8th Battalion went ashore on Gallipoli in the early hours of the morning. No more was heard of Private Mills until late May, when Margaret Mills was informed that her son had been killed in action. Rumours began to circulate as to how Mills met his death. Some said he was shot during the landing; others that he had been killed by an artillery shell. In September 1915 Private Donald Campigli of Williamstown returned to Australia and was able to shed light on what had happened.

Private Campigli told how shortly after the landing he was in Shrapnel Gully and could hear wounded men crying out for water. He asked if he could go out and help them but was refused permission. Campigli said his commanding officer “turned away, and while he was doing something a few yards away, I jumped over the parapet and went out … A fellow asked me for a drink of water. I gave him my bottle. He was shot through the back and could not move. I got him on my back and brought him within five or six yards of the trench, where he was shot a second time … I was taking him further to the rear when he was again shot, and this time the wound was fatal.” Campigli, who was later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions, later found out that man was Private David Mills.

Mills’ body was lost in the confusion of the early days at Anzac Cove, and today he has no known burial place. He was 23 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private David George Mills, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Unit

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1148) Private David George Mills, 8th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)