My grandfather Mullins was born Albert Jack Mullins on the 25th of February 1906 in Holywell, Frome St Quinton in Dorset. The second son of Henry Charles and Susan Mullins ne Pitcher (Pilcher). Henry was a lineman on the Yeovil to Dorchester line, Whose ancestors had lived in Evershot since at least 1825. If you do not know Holywell, Frome St Quinton and Evershot are close together in the rolling hills north of Dorchester.
Jack, as he was known, grew up in Holywell before joining the army at the grand age of 17 Years 5 Months 26 Days in 1923. Although his army book shows him born in 1906. As a member of the 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment (Number 5613417).
His postings 1 were as follows
As can be seen from the dates Jack did 16 months at the regimental depot for his initial period of service before joining the second battalion in India where they had been stationed since 1919 2.
When Jack arrived in India the battalion was serving as a unit of the Viceroys Guard, which consisted of one British infantry battalion, and Indian infantry battalion and a Royal Horse Artillery battery. The battalion had been involved in the fighting around Waziristan, in what is now Pakistan, but by the time Jack arrived its duties were predominately ceremonial, a modicum of training combined with great ceremonial,King’s birthdays, heroic funerals which could have rivaled those of any Moghul Prince and a regular diet of inspections.
The Battalion spent the “cool season” in Delhi (November to February) moving out to Kailana in March or April as the weather became impossible. Single men like Jack stayed for 3 months from March to June, then returned to New Cantonments to be replaced by another party for the next three months.
Kailana is north of Delhi and 7,500 feet above sea level. One officer described it as not unlike the Scottish Highlands wild rhododendrons instead of rowans and once the monsoons started ‘Dark Indian oaks, pines, cedars, wreathed in creepers festooned with roses . . . the ground beneath displaying brambles, violets, ox eye daisies, buttercups, dahlias in a riot of colour’. And, fifty miles away, but looking in the diamond sharp air as if it could be reached in an afternoon’s stroll, the 27,000 feet high peak of Nanda Devi ‘the blessed goddess’ — believed by many travellers to be the most beautiful mountain in the world.
Jacks Record Book shows him transferring from India to Aden in March of 1926, which is somewhat strange as the Battalion would appear to have been in Aden since at least June of 1925.
Most travel books mention that the town stands in an extinct volcano surrounded by arid rocks and with an average annual temperature of 86 o c. The heat is damp and steamy. Of the two main centres of troop concentration, Crater and Steamer Point some idea of the delights offered by Aden can be discerned in the suffuse quality of its place names. Steamer Point is to be preferred as it sometimes enjoys a sea breeze. ‘Aden swarms with bugs, they are to be found everywhere’ the intelligence report from the Royal Scots goes on ‘. . . A block of buildings at Crater called “Prickly Heat Alley” provides a liquor and supper bar. The only recreations are fishing and rock climbing men who do this get lost and have to be rescued. Water difficult and strictly rationed. All drinking, cooking and dhobi water is condensed, brackish and unfit for Europeans. Special rations are issued to combat BeriBeri (no cases in the Royal Scots but the Border Regt. had some). Dengue Fever is prevalent; particularly among families Aden is a bad place for families: all who can should go on home to England.’
On a more cheerful note the report ended with the remark that Aden was only a short-stay station and that the next stop was usually Britain.
On the Battalions return to England, the regimental history has little to say other than to state that the battalions health was poor. Jack once told his son Alan that return across the Bay of Biscay was horrendous and once you got to a toilet you stayed with it.
Although the dates are not known at the moment Alan can remember a picture of Jack with the Regiments rugby team and that Jack was always very knowledgeable about the sport.
Jack served for 8 years in England before his discharge.
He was then in the reserves until 30/8/39. He told Alan that he wanted to re-enlist for the duration of the second world war, but his employer said that if he did his family would have to leave their tied cottage. As a protected occupation Jack had no option, but to comply.