The Mills were another established Wymeswold family, and when Jesse was born in 1894, his immediate family lived in the parish, but closer to the nearby village of Burton on the Wolds. They were devout Methodists, and two of Jesse’s uncles were stewards of the Wymeswold Wesleyan church. His father had taken on a farm a few years earlier, and it was here that he died when Jesse was just five. His mother continued to work the farm with the help of Jesse’s two elder brothers, but eventually of course they married and went their own ways. Jesse did not join up at the outbreak of the war – he was needed on the farm, and even the authorities would have recognised that. However, with the introduction of conscription in 1916, everything changed, and Jesse attested in Leicester in August of that year. Initially he was with the Leicesters, but was soon transferred to the Royal Lancaster Regiment, and arrived in France in December 1916.
He would have served with the 1st Battalion through some of the fiercest fighting of the war – the battles of Arras, the Scarpe, Polygon Wood, Poelcapelle and Passchendaele. In April 1918, he was on the east side of the Bassée Canal, close to the little hamlet of Mt Bernanchon. The German offensive of March 1918 had ground to a halt further south, on the Somme. It was to re-commence just where the Lancasters were. The troops on the eastern side of the canal were soon overrun; most were unable to get back to the western bank. Jesse’s body was never located, and he is remembered on the Loos memorial to the missing.
At home in Wymeswold, his family made their own memorial; a communion set for the Methodist church. It is still in use today.