Arras: Arras Memorial (Pas-de-Calais)

March 12, 2019 - Comment

Arras: Arras Memorial (Pas-de-Calais) Image by michaelday_bath Panel 6: Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry MILLER, HENRY ARTHUR Rank: Private Service No: 31746 Date of Death: 17/04/1917 Regiment/Service: Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, 1st Bn. Panel Reference: Bay 6. Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL Link: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/781199/MILLER,%20HENR… Private Henry Arthur Miller, 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry The

Arras: Arras Memorial (Pas-de-Calais)
camping l'hirondelle
Image by michaelday_bath
Panel 6: Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

MILLER, HENRY ARTHUR

Rank: Private
Service No: 31746
Date of Death: 17/04/1917
Regiment/Service: Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, 1st Bn.
Panel Reference: Bay 6.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Link: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/781199/MILLER,%20HENR…

Private Henry Arthur Miller, 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

The 1st Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry were part of the British 5th Division for the duration of the war. At the beginning of the Battle of Arras, most of 5th Division were in reserve on the Vimy front, although the division’s 13th Brigade fought under the command of the Canadian Corps in the Neuville-Saint-Vaast area.

On the 13th April, the Fifth Division began to relieve the 4th Canadian Division around Givenchy. The 15th and 95th Brigades continued the advance, but soon hit obstacles. The divisional history elaborates [2]:

[…] on the 14th [April] they were held up in front of a strongly-wired entrenched position running from the Electricity Works South of the Cite du Bois Moyen, through La Culotte, to Acheville. The left flank of our position rested on the Souchez River, and the right on the Arras-Lens road; immediately south of the Souchez River, in the left Brigade area, was the wooded spur of the Bois de l’Hirondelle, a locality subjected to very severe shelling by the enemy’s Artillery.

And [3]:

The German position was formidable, protected with three deep belts of barbed-wire entanglement; opposite the 95th Brigade was a strongly-fortified railway embankment and the buildings of the Electricity Works, transformed by concrete and steel into a veritable fortress […]

In due course as part of the Second Battle of the Scarpe (23rd and 24th April), the 95th Brigade — which included 1/DCLI — would attack these positions. In the meantime, however, this sector of the line was far from quiet:

Between the 14th and 19th of April the Cornwalls had remained in the front line, subjected to much shell-fire, machine-gunning and sniping. The Bosche was exceedingly active and patrols were always met by fire whenever they went out to reconnoitre the enemy’s wire and positions.

Private Henry Miller was killed in action on the 17th April. The war diary gives a brief overview of battalion movements on that day (WO 95 1577-4) [4]:

17th April

From 1 A.M till 5.30AM German artillery very active on our trenches and lines in front of BOIS de RIAUMONT – During the morning BOIS de L’HIRONDELLE shelled
[…] Instructions were received that 5th Division would form defensive flanks and Brigades were slightly re-organised […]
Devons right front, DCLI left front near SOUCHEZ Road, 12 Gloucesters in support, E Surreys in reserve.
11th and 18th Bde R.F.A. covering our front. On the whole day quieter – heavy rain during night and sun during day made the trenches very bad indeed. Fires in houses in LENS pont to further withdrawal of Germans.

Henry Arthur Miller was born at Preston (Dorset) in 1893, the son of Charles and Elizabeth Miller. In the 1901 Census, Charles Miller was a 59-year old market gardener resident at Preston. Living with Charles and Elizabeth were the 12-year-old Bessie and the 7-year-old Henry as well as three of Elizabeth’s older children from a previous marriage: Mary, William and Frederick Ashford. By 1911, Elizabeth was a widow, and was living at Preston with the 17-year old Henry (by now a casual labourer), his step-brother Frederick, and a 5-year-old niece named Winifred Muriel Miller.

In July 1913, the 20-year old Henry Miller joined the Weymouth Branch of the National Union of Railwaymen as a labourer, working for the Great Western Railway. He married Lilian Baker in 1915.

Private Miller’s entry in Soldiers died in the Great War says that he enlisted at Weymouth and that he was killed in action. He has no known grave, so his name features on the Arras Memorial.

After his death, the Western Gazette published a photograph of Henry Miller and a short obituary.

PRESTON.
PRIVATE H. A. MILLER KILLED. — It is with deep regret that his friends heard of the death in action, on 17th April, of Private Henry Arthur Miller, of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Deceased was a son of the late Mr. Charles and Mrs. Miller, and the husband of Mrs. Lilian Victoria Miller, of Preston, and before entering the Army was a worker on the G.W.R. He joined the Dorset Regiment, and was trained at Bovington Camp, proceeding to the Front in July last, being attached to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He will be much missed in his local village, where he was very popular. He was much attached to the church, of which his father was clerk for many years, and was a keen bell-ringer. He was also on the Committee of the Scout Memorial Hall, and took interest in all parish matters. Deep sympathy is felt with the widow and family in their heavy bereavement.

Private Miller’s name features on the war memorial at Preston (Dorset).

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