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The following poem was taken from a ‘Patient’s poetry’ book which was kept by a nurse of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service at Norfolk War Hospital.

The man who wrote the poem was 9290 Serjeant John Miller. He sailed to France as a Corporal with the 1st Battalion on 22nd September 1914 and was promoted to Serjeant in the field. He appears in the ‘wounded’ list of the Manchester Courier dated 1 Nov 1915, not long before he penned the poem. His papers haven’t survived, so we don’t know if he went back to France after being at Norfolk military hospital but by 1919 he was in F Company of the 3rd Battalion and was attached as a Serjeant Instructor in the physical training department at R.M College Sandhurst – he was still there in 1921 when his war medals were sent out to him.

Click to see original page

Click to see the original page

Here’s to our boys in khaki
Here’s to our boys in blue
Here’s to our sons behind the guns
Ever watchful and true

But er’e this toast we honour
Our glasses in silence take
And think of those who have died
For King and Country’s sake.

Norfolk War Hospital 2-11-15
J Miller. Sjt. 

1st Loyal North Lancs
Navy & Army Light & featherweight champion 1910-11-12-13-14-15

Wounded. Manchester Courier 01/11/1915

Wounded. Manchester Courier 01/11/1915

Thank you to David McNaughton for sharing the page from his Gt. Aunty Betty’s book.

Paul McCormick
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2 Responses to Poem: A Toast to the Times

  1. John Dancy says:

    John ( Dusty ) Miller was my grandfather. He went back to France and was in Mazingarbe and Lillers in Jan 1916 and then in Les Brebis and Maroc and Loos until July when he was sent to The Somme where he arrived on the 10th. He was then at Mametz Wood,Contalmaison,Hennencourt,Black Wood and in the Albert area.He was finally sent home in January 1917. I know all this as I have his diary for for 1916 and 1917. He remained in the army until the 1930,s but was connected with the army until the 1950,s. He died in 1966. I have more information about his life if you are interested. He was also the undefeated army boxing champion from 1910 until 1925. Another remarkable fact was that he was ordered to stand guard over four men who were’ shot at dawn ‘ all during 1916

    • Hi John, thank you for the additional information about your grandfather; there is an ‘upload’ button in the right sidebar which might be easier to send anything else you have. Thanks again, Paul

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