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Wilfred Miller was born on the 17th March 1891 in Preston the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Miller (nee Cowley). Wilfred`s parents married in Preston in 1884 and they had ten children altogether, eight of whom survived;

⦁ John (1886)
⦁ Jane (1889-1907)
⦁ Wilfred (1891)*
⦁ William (1892)
⦁ Joseph (1894)
⦁ Thomas (1896)
⦁ Henry (1887-1898)
⦁ Elizabeth (1898)
⦁ Henry (1901)
⦁ Arthur (1903)

The 1891 Census was recorded  on the 5th April 1891 not long after Wilfred was born and it shows the Miller family living at 29 Milner Street in Preston where Thomas Miller was employed as a `lodge keeper`. By 1901 the family had relocated to 5 Arkwright Road and Wilfred`s father was now a book keeper working in a cotton mill. Wilfred`s eldest brother John was a telegraph messenger. His maternal Grandmother 64 year old Jane Cowley was also in residence with the family and she was listed as a `housekeeper`.

By 1911 Wilfred and his family had moved house again, this time to 18 Thorn Street which is just off Ribbleton Lane in Preston. His father was a `cotton clerk` and his mother a `domestic` and Wilfred had now secured a job at the Preston Corporation Tram Depot. His three younger brothers also had jobs, William was a grocer`s shop assistant, Joseph a jeweller`s assistant and Thomas was an apprentice baker. Wilfred`s three youngest siblings, Elizabeth, Henry and Arthur were all still at school. When completing the Census Wilfred`s father had also noted that one son had gone to live in Canada, presumably this was Wilfred`s eldest brother John, the only son missing from this Census.

Wilfred married Elizabeth Smith in Preston in 1914, the marriage being registered in the September quarter of that year.

Wilfred`s mother Elizabeth sadly passed away on the 22nd October 1914. The following month on the 10th November 1914 he enlisted into the Army at Preston, initially joining the A.S.C. He confirmed his occupation as a tram conductor working for Preston Corporation and gave his next of kin as his wife Elizabeth. Unfortunately after an accident resulting in a broken collar bone, Wilfred was discharged from the A.S.C. on the 21st December 1914 having served for just 41 days.

Later newspaper information states that Wilfred re-enlisted around January 1916, joining the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 22405. Unfortunately Wilfred`s service papers no longer exist so information is fairly limited but at some point during the months that followed he embarked for France with reinforcements, later joining the 10th Battalion LNL. The 10th Battalion had sailed to France on the 31st July 1915 coming under the command of the 112th Brigade of 37th Division.

From the middle of September 1915 until the end of June 1916 the 10th Battalion was in more or less the same area around Gommecourt, taking their turn in the trenches in and about Bienvillers, Hannescamps and Humbercamps.

On the 18th June 1916 the Battalion went into support billets at Bienvillers, remaining there for four days before going back into the trenches on the 23rd;

Extract from the 10th Battalion War Diary

23rd June 1916: The 10th Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment relieved the 6th Bedford`s in the trenches at 17:30hrs, relief being completed by 19:15hrs.

24th June 1916: This morning we heavily bombarded the enemy line opposite Gommecourt – this bombardment lasted all day. At 16:30hrs the firing ceased and aeroplanes went up to see what damage was done. Trenches in a bad muddy condition.

25th June 1916: Enemy active with minenwerfer and large shells. Heavy bombardment practically all day both on our immediate front and on the following points; Essarts, Pigeon Wood, La Brayelle Fme, the `Z` and Gommecourt.

26th June 1916: Another severe bombardment by our artillery, enemies reply much feebler than preceding day. Trenches still in a very bad condition rained 2 or 3 times during the day.

27th June 1916: Bombardment in the morning. At 14:00hrs we discharged some gas – the enemy retaliated with great vigour. Casualties up to date: 46 other ranks.

Sadly, this was where Wilfred`s war ended, his date of death recorded as 27th June 1916.

Under the date 22nd July 1916, one of the local Preston newspapers, the Preston Herald reported on Wilfred`s death;

“Private Wilfred Miller, L.N.L. was killed in action in France last week. He was formally a conductor on the Corporation tramways. He is the second son to be killed of Mr. Thomas Miller, 2 Grafton Street, Preston. Private Thos. Miller (20), the youngest son, was killed in France in November 1915. Two other sons, Joseph, aged, 22, and William, aged 27, are also serving. Private Wilfred Miller was 24, and married. Early in the war he joined the A.S.C., but breaking his collar bone through an accident, he was discharged, but six months ago he joined the Loyals. His widow and one child reside at Broken Lane, Broughton”.

Note: Re: Wilfred`s home address of `Broken Lane`, he lived at The Bungalow on `Black Bull Lane`.

Wilfred was later buried in Bienvillers Military Cemetery, not far from where he died.

Bienvillers Military Cemetery, photo taken July 2016

In the December quarter of 1916 Elizabeth Miller gave birth to the couples` only child, a son and she named him Wilfred after his father.

After the war Elizabeth would take receipt of her late husband`s British War and Victory Medals and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll to which he was entitled.

Wilfred is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in his home town of Preston;

Rank: Private
Service No: 22405
Date of Death: 27/06/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.

Additional family information
8155 Private Joseph Miller, Scots Guards. Joseph enlisted on the 22nd January 1912 at Preston. He served with them for just over two and a half years before being discharged on the 20th October 1914. His papers give reason for discharge as; “disordered action of the heart which causes the heart to become dilated on the slightest exertion”. The newspaper article refers to Joseph as still serving in 1916; unfortunately there are too many possibilities to be able to determine which one is the correct Joseph Miller.

8154 Private Thomas Miller, 1st Battalion Scots Guards. Thomas enlisted on the 25th January 1912 at Preston. He went overseas on the 2nd September 1914. Sadly, Thomas was killed in action on the 10th November 1914. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing. Thomas, like his brother, is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.

Janet Davis
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