On the 22
June 2008, Gordon Smith received the following email from Don Kindell:
Just wanted to share this one with you. This is what it is all about.
relevant emails follow:
Enquiry from Dick Fobbester to Don Kindell - Would you know the age and
address of a casualty from HMS FIJI - Robert Mills, NAAFI Worker. He was
possibly my brother.
Don's reply - Robert was 24 years old when he was killed in FIJI. He
was born around 1917. I don't have an address, but his mother was Mabel Mills.
From Dick - You have made my day. Mabel Mills was my mother, so Robert
was my brother. I had been looking for him under the name of Albert and it was
through you that I have found him. I can go no further as all the family bar me
are dead. There were three of us boys and we all went to sea, myself into the
MN ending up donkeyman and my eldest brother who I talked into going to sea,
ended up on the HMS Pursuer. I live in Gorleston Norfolk.
From Dick to Gordon (in response for a request for any
more information) -
You ask me if I would mind you adding a note to Roberts entry, and I will try
to put you in the picture. I never knew I had another brother until he had been
killed. My mother let it slip in her grief. Even then I'm not sure I took it
In. I was only fifteen, and had other things on my mind like joining-up and
going to sea. It came back to me when someone mentioned HMS FIJI. Then I
remembered what my mother had said. This was where I made the first mistake. I
heard the name Bert so I automatically thought ALBERT and I spent years looking
for that name. My middle boy went on holiday to Crete and came back with a book
about the HMS FIJI, so I started again in earnest and I am pleased with the
As for me, my first MN ship was a tanker crossing the Atlantic.
Another ship was SS Strathnever, a trooper that took part in the Italy
invasion. After a while I was on the Fort McPherson with the France and Germany
invasion. While waiting for more troops, we got hit by a doodle bug (V.1)
while in East India docks which finished us, but I think we had done our bit. I
was then asked to join a NAAFI ship, SS Philomel, out in the Far East. She was
an oil burner (I forgot to say I worked below as a fireman). I don't think she
was a NAAFI boat, but packed from stem to stern with ammo. That didn't bother
me, and I finished up a Donkeyman. This is my story. My other eldest brother
Richard, I talked into going to sea. He joined as a T124X, and served on HMS
Pursuer (flat top) through the war. He died about ten years ago so he never
knew about Robert. By the way, although I did not know at the time, I named my
eldest son Richard Robert. Fate? Thanks again Dick.