Lieutenant Herbert Horatio Mills

 

Unit : Intelligence Section, Headquarters Company, 7th Parachute Battalion

Service No. : 134321

Awards : Military Cross

 

Lieutenant Mills commanded the 7th Battalion's Intelligence Section, and as such it was his task, on the 1st June 1944, to brief the men of the Battalion on such aspects of the invasion as a description of the terrain in which they were to land, where the known and suspected enemy strong points were located, and what attitudes could be expected of the local civilians. During the months of fighting in Normandy, Mills continued to act in the capacity of Intelligence Officer and, as a fluent German speaker, frequently interrogated prisoners. He also oversaw the manufacture of an accurate large-scale map of the Battalion's area in the Bois de Bavent, displaying the region in great detail and lending names, some of which are unprintable, to well-known features.

 

In the advance on Putot-en-Auge, on the 19th August, Lieutenant Mills skilfully guided the 7th Battalion over difficult terrain in time for the 5th Parachute Brigade's attack on the village at dawn. On the way, the 7th Battalion spotted a number of troops moving parallel to them. It was first presumed that these were men of the 13th Battalion, but it soon became clear that they were German. Lieutenant-Colonel Pine-Coffin preferred to take these men alive and so allowed them to enter a trap, whereupon Lieutenant Mills called out to them to lay down their arms. The German soldiers did not entirely appreciate the hopeless situation in which they were in, and after some hesitation one of the soldiers dropped to the ground and opened fire on the British troops, inevitably prompting the 7th Battalion to return fire and cut down the group with few survivors.

 

For his actions during the Normandy campaign, Lieutenant Mills was awarded the Military Cross.

 

This officer has an outstanding record throughout the entire campaign. He proved himself without fear and was quite tireless in his efforts to serve. On 19th August as Intelligence Officer he led the 7th Parachute Battalion on a most difficult night approach at Putot en Auge and during the following dawn attack, when the enemy attacked from a flank, he completely disregarded his own safety and stood up and called on the enemy to surrender. The audacity and surprise of this action very nearly succeeded in its object.

 

On 26th August at Pont Audemer while commanding a company he came under heavy and sudden Machine Gun fire while making a reconnaissance. Despite the fact that his party received several casualties and he himself was wounded, he organised the rescue of the casualties and continued with his recce.

 

This officer had little chance to shine in any one incident, but his energy during long periods of strain has been of untold value to the battalion.

 

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