First World War Project
John MILGATE serving as John CRUMP (of Wychling)
Lance Corporal, Service Number 292
John (Crump) Millgate emigrated to Australia, where he adopted his and his father's middle name "Crump" when attesting for service in the Great War. Both names appear on the Military records. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records both his family names on the Menin Gate and refer to him as "native of Wichling, Kent, England." Three of his five siblings were also born in Wychling. His Grandfather (Richard) was a miller and stock-dealer in Lenham who became a farmer off Payden Street, just north of Lenham but in the Parish of Wychling by 1871. John's father, uncles and aunts were mostly registered in Lenham.
From the 1911 Census, we learn that John Crump Millgate and his wife Susannah (née Bishopp) raised a family of six surviving children: Elizabeth, Robert, Kate, John Crump, Jessie and Lucy. Census and Civil Registrations clearly give John's year of birth as first quarter of 1889, but John Crump Millgate gave his birthday on attestation as 7th December 1886 and place of birth as Lenham instead of Wychling.
On attestation, John gave his trade as "Butcher", having served a three-year apprenticeship in "Lenham, Burton (butchers)". He gives his mother as next of kin (initially recorded as living in Loose, near Maidstone, but overwritten with "Hegg Hill Farm, Smarden" after a letter received on 19th October 1917).
On 9th September 1914, at Blackboy Hill, Western Australia, John was described as standing 5 feet and 10¾ inches tall. His chest expansion range was between 35½ and 37½ inches. Fair skinned, his eyes were grey-green and his hair brown. He had a scar to his right-forehead.
Australian Records shows that John Crump Millgate was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals. [See Appendix 1]
Military Experience of John Crump Millgate
John Crump Millgate's arrival at the Western Front was extremely circuitous and features several episodes of serious illness that prevented him serving with his unit in Egypt, Salonika and Gallipoli.
On 26th August 1914, at Helena Vale (now "Midland" suburb of Perth), Western Australia, John Millgate joined as a private in the 11th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force for the "Duration of the War + four months".
Embarked at Freemantle on His Majesty's Australian Transport A11 "Ascanius" on 2nd November 1914.
On 2nd March 1915, John embarked on "H.M.T. Suffolk" to join the Middle East Force at Alexandria destined for the Gallipoli Peninsula.
However, John had a long struggle with illness during his early years overseas. He was admitted to Hospital Ship "Ascania" on 16th August 1915 with Diarrhoea (first at Gallipoli then transferred to Mudros) and Dysentery on 19th August (at Gallipoli). On 25th August, he was embarked for England, via Malta (St. Patrick Hospital).
On 10th September, John was admitted to "Hospital Ship Georgian", Gallipoli and was admitted to the "County of London War Hospital", in Epsom on 18th September 1915.
Disciplinary Action: On 3rd January 1916, in London, John was awarded 120 hours detention for offense of absent without leave from 30th December 1915 to 3rd January 1916 and forfeited 5 days pay (5/-).
On 4th January 1916, John arrived from London at the Weymouth Depot and was detailed with the 28th Draft to join the Egyptian Expeditionary Force on 28th March. He arrived at Tel-el-Kebir to join the 3rd Training Battalion on 18th April 1916.
From Tel-el-Kebir, John transferred to 47th Battalion on 25th April 1916. The next day he was taken on the Strength of the 48th Battalion at Serapeum.
On 2nd June, John boarded the "H.M.T. Caledonian" at Alexandria, bound for Marseilles, arriving on 9th June 1916.
On 29th July, from the 48th Battalion (late 11th Battalion), John was "transferred for duty" and attached to the 12th Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery.
Between 16th-28th September, John was admitted with mumps to the 2nd Canadian Field Ambulance Transport and onwards to the Divisional Rest Area until he was fit enough to rejoin his Unit on 29th September 1916.
On 11th May 1917,John Crump Millgate was promoted to Lance Corporal and assigned to "complete establishment" of the 4th L.T.M.B and was killed on 8th June. There is a red pencil entry saying he was "buried". However, being memorialised on the Menin Gate, suggested his body was not recovered from its burial-place close to the village of Messines."
Clarification of Terminology: In reading the records, it is important to understand the terminology applied to the Australian artillery records. There are repeated references in the Australian records to John serving in the 12th L.T.M. Battery. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) refers to the "4th Battery, Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery". This is in our view misleading.
So, for the sake of clarity, John Crump Millgate served in:-
REGIMENT OR CORPS: 4th Australian Divisional Light Trench Mortar Batteries;
BATTERY OR COMPANY: 12th Battery.
The YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.
Circumstances of the death of John Crump Millgate
An account of John's death was recorded by Lt. H.K. COWARD, Commanding Officer, 12th Light Trench Mortar Battery.
"(Copy of D.16; D26590) No.292, L/Corporal CRUMP J. (alias MILLGATE) 12th L.T.M. Battery. Killed in Action 8.6.17.
The above named soldier was killed in action 8.6.17 (together with No. 2235 Private J. Peverill of this Unit) by a shell wound in the head. They were buried together where they fell, by 5 members of this Battery, but the only two surviving members of the party No.204 Private H.J. Fulcher and No.3089, Private J. STAPLETON have returned to Australia. (Private Fulcher leaving here on 21.9.18 for 1914 Australia leave, second quota, and Private Stapleton sailing on 15.2.18 to Australia for discharge.)
The map reference of the grave over which a small cross was erected is U.4.a.25.70. Sheet 28.S.W.4 1/10,000. Approximately 1000 yards due east of the outskirts of Messines and about 60 yards south of the Messines-Les-Quatre Rois Cabinet Road. At the time of his death L/Cpl Crump was engaged with the other members of his gun crew, digging a gun emplacement when a shell burst amongst them. Death was instantaneous."