Arthur Gilbert MULLINS 
- Born: 8 Nov 1886
- Marriage: Joan Cicily TYRWHITT-DRAKE  about 1914
- Died: 1964 aged 78
The following biography is reproduced courtesy of Mike Davies.
Robert and Jennie's youngest son, was intended by Robert to be called something that ended in 'bert'. There had been Robert and Charles Herbert, Hubert and Cuthbert, and Rubert, (though Jennie was never sure there really was such a name), and 'Arthur Gilbert' would have completed the set. But 'given names' have a way of turning into something else, and hence Herbert became Charlie and Gilbert became Alec.
Alec attended St Andrew
s Prep and St Andrew
s College. He turned fifteen in the November of his matric year in 1901 and continued in the University class, passing the Intermediate in 1903. He was a captain in the cadet corps, was captain of shooting.
In 1904, at the age of 17, he became the first student to sign the register at Rhodes University. He represented Rhodes in its first rugby match and scored the University
s first try. After completing a B.A. at Rhodes he went up to Oxford, where he read Law and captained Keble College at rugby. He passed his honours in Jurisprudence in 1907 and was called to the Bar as a member of the Inner Temple in 1908.
Alec returned to South Africa in 1909, joining his brother Charles at the Johannesburg Bar. Later he became Private Secretary to Sir Lionel Phillips at the Corner House Mining Group. He was also a civilian member of the Transvaal Horse Artillery. In 1913 he returned to Grahamstown to join his eldest brother, Bob, as assistant master at St Andrew
s Prep. It was during this time that he met Joan Tyrwhitt-Drake.
When the First World War broke out, he served with the Imperial Light Horse in the German South West African campaign, a strenuous one as desert warfare always is, but it was over in eight months. Thereafter the Imperial Light Horse was demobilised, and so Alec was made a Lieut. in the 72nd Battery of the South African Heavy Artillery. On his return to Grahamstown in June 1915 Alec and Joan Cicely Tyrwhitt-Drake were married in the St Andrew
s College chapel. (Joan
s mother had died years earlier, so on the eve of her marriage she asked Granny Jennie whether there was anything she should know in preparation for marriage. Granny replied, 'Trust your husband.')
Three months later, he and Joan and his brother Ru sailed to England to fight for the Old Country on the Western Front in France. Their first baby, Joan Laura, was born just a few hours after her father had left for France. The intensity of the war in France increased and in October 1917 Alec's Major was seriously wounded, and Alec was posted in his place, so there was a second Major Mullins in the family. He commanded the battery through the battles of the Somme, Passchendale and Vimy Ridge. Before long he was 'mentioned in dispatches' and then awarded the DSO for gallantry in the field.
Ronald Curry describes an incident from this time; "It was towards the close of the Somme fighting in 1916, and a young South African, rather homesick at the moment, was serving in a Highland battalion on the front covered by Alec's battery. They had just been relieved in the line; and the men were making their way back in small groups to the support position they were to take over. It was a pitch-black night, but dark as it was they were able to note that they were moving through the gun pits of a six-inch howitzer battery. The air was vibrant with the broadest Scots, and the scarcely less broad Cheshire of the battalion moving to the relief. South Africa seemed very far away. But the subaltern was suddenly aware that something purely South African was happening: beyond all question someone was smoking Boer tobacco! Enquiry of a bombardier standing by one of the gun pits explained the mystery: the battery was the 72nd South African, and Major Mullins was in command. There followed a wonderful evening when Alec's spirit, kindled perhaps at meeting fellow Andreans, turned a dug-out on the Western Front for an hour or two into a warm, sunny corner of South Africa."
His sister Win and little Molly Levick had the privilege of going to Aldershot with Alec to receive his DSO from King George V. The investiture was an open-air one and they had splendid seats in the front row. The day was one of the highlights of Molly's life, although she embarrassed her mother somewhat by declaring in a loud voice, as the Royal Victoria rolled by on the turf, and she saw Queen Mary,
"Mummy, it definitely is the Queen, I know her best hat from the pictures."
After being injured in a motorbike accident, he was posted to Trowbridge as Officer Commanding the Gunnery School. His second daughter, D
Urban, was born here.
Alec had always wanted to be a soldier. His birthday cake as a little boy had to be decorated with soldiers and in Hilda's story of their childhood, he is forever wanting to play soldiers;
"Arthur do like 'sholjers' velly much Da," said baby. "Do you, Alexander the Great?" she said. "Well, we'll play soldiers." Arthur's face beamed all over and he wrinkled up his big nose with pleasure. "Let's all have trumpets and be a band," Boy called out. So they all got into rank, with Arthur as Captain and marched down the garden to the pumpkin bed.
However, as well as soldiering there is another dominant gene in the Mullins blood, and that is teaching. After the War was over it didn't take too much persuasion on the part of his eldest brother, Bob, to persuade the youngest to join him at St Andrew's Prep as second in command, and first housemaster of Fairlawn. (This had been one of the Tyrwhitt-Drake homes in Joan
s childhood). Jimmy (Alec James), Gill and Arthur were all born there. Alec bought Prep from his brother Bob's
s estate and was headmaster from 1930 until 1946. He formed the St Andrew
s Prep Old Boys
Association. Each Old Boy signed surety for £10 pounds and Alec eventually sold the school to them for £18,000. (Shortly before his death his son Arthur asked Alec why he had sold the school for so little. Alec
s reply was "I'd have hated to see the babe die at birth.")
After retiring, Alec and Joan moved to 'Fairlands' farm near Howieson
s Poort where they farmed happily for about 7 years before moving to 'Fairacre', 5 Graham street. Alec was very busy in his retirement. He was president of the Old Andrean. Club in 1946, he served on the Rhodes University Council for fifteen years and coached the Rhodes rugby team for 5 years during which time they won the Eastern Province Grand Challenge Cup. The Alec Mullins Recreation Hall is named after him. He also served on the Grahamstown City Council for 14 years.
His grandson Rob Davies (13.2.2) writes, Alec aspired to base his life on "The Gentleman
s Psalm", Psalm 15. I think that - like all of the Titans - both my grandparents were guided by very high moral values: honesty, integrity, duty, doing what you know is right. Although I attended Prep after my grandfather had left, most of these values were ingrained in the fabric of school. Their outlook is illustrated by a story I recall. Joan always refused to go to the horse races, even though she enjoyed the racing. She said that it made good people bad, and told of how she had once been taken to the Grahamstown races by a well-known gentleman in Grahamstown who she had given 2/6 to place on a horse. The horse won, but Joan never received her winnings. Joan never asked the gentleman for them - a gentleman should not need reminding - and never disclosed his name - it was.....'
Arthur married Joan Cicily TYRWHITT-DRAKE  [MRIN: 6571] about 1914. (Joan Cicily TYRWHITT-DRAKE  was born in 1888 and died in 1979 in Grahamstown South Africa.)