View Full Version : Service Record: George Miller
My first question, no doubt you get thousands like this so my excuses if there is too much boring and unnecessary detail.
It concerns my mother’s brother, George Miller, born 22 July 1907, died in WW2. I would like to find out something of his time in the war. I have his Navy record from 1923 to 1928, the document has the number 109036 and gives details of the ships he served on:-
HMS Ganges 1923, HMS Marlborough 1924, HMS Egmont 11, 1925, HMS Vernon, 1927, HMS Ark Royal 1927. In the final entry he is posted to HMS Kent on 25 June 1928 after which the paper is stamped ‘Record Transferred’.
The paper also shows he was presented with a Hurst Certificate, any ideas what that might be? And, he got an incised wound on his nose, which sounds like he might have been in a bit of a fight.
There are two stories in the family concerning his death which, for unknown reasons I seem to think occurred early in the war, one goes he died when a gun fell on him, the other goes he was killed during an air raid on Portsmouth in which his ship was struck by a bomb.
It would be nice to know which version is correct, if any.
Although you have his service record, you must be missing a bit, as he was evidently recalled to service in 1939, as he was in the RFR (Royal Fleet Reserve - this was the organisation that consisted of men who had served their time as a regular, but liable to recall).
A quick check on WW2 casualties reveals the following -
MILLER, George R, Able Seaman, RFR (Pens), C/J 109036, Vesper, 12 March 1942, collision, killed
HMS VESPER was a destroyer that was involved in a collision with a sister ship, the Vivacious on 12 March 1942; another two men were also killed.
For a history of the VESPER, see:
.... having just posted that, I now realise there is a discrepancy between the history of Vesper I directed you to and the casualty date...
Miller is shown, along with two other men, as being killed as a result of a collision in March 1942 .... but the Vesper collision seems to have been in August?
It's a Hurt certificate not at Hurst certificate These are awarded to any serviceman injured in the line of duty not nessessary in a wartime action of any kind, and can be used at a later date to prove that the injury they are suffering from was caused in the line of duty and can be used to persue a claim for a war pension etc.
Keith, unless evidence surfaces to confirm the August date for the collision I believe that you should accept the 12 March 1942 date of death, which comes from the Admiralty casualty db.
The website note is taken from some written account, and these are often in error due to author memory problems/poor research.
Extremely grateful to you David and Navalis, this is something totally new to the family, we had no idea of the date of death or ship on which he served. It appears George was on a destroyer doing Atlantic convoy protection so didn’t have an easy time in the war.
This must be the correct George Miller, You gave his middle initial as ‘R’, while I failed to mention his middle name ‘Robert’.
All I have to do now is to explain to the family that the old stories are incorrect.
One or two questions.
In the number C/J 109036, does the C/J mean anything?
Is there any way to discover more about the collision and confirmation that the other ship involved was Vivacious?
To give him a face, here is George’s photo
I have a Hurt certificate from way back here it is...
In the number C/J 109036, does the C/J mean anything?
The first letter shows his 'home port' - C stands for Chatham; the second letter shows his branch - J was for Seaman and Communications.
It is quite fantastic to watch you chaps breath life back into a poor old jack who for seventy odd years had been a confused statistic to even his close family, now he lives again, refreshed in memory and a real person who lived a real life, with friends and performed real service to his country. Well done, and welcome back George Miller. For the family, life was tough in those old V&W class destroyers, George was a true salt.
Gracious words Tim with which I wholeheartedly agree and only need to add my thanks to all. Just a comment on the Hurt Certificate, what a glamorous piece of artwork, pity ours is lost.
Now, for a new thread, an easier question concerning George’s father.
It has been a while since you guys kindly gave me all that information and now, if you don’t mind I’d like to ask another question. I have discovered that the HMS Vesper Association still exists and one of the leading members is Norman Sussex. His father (same name) was killed same day and same ship as my uncle, George Miller. Talking to old crewmembers of Vesper, Norman learnt there was a collision between Vesper and HMS Campbell in March 1942 while patrolling the French coast in search of E boats. The flotilla came under heavy fire from shore batteries and in their attempt to escape, the two destroyers collided. Besides George Miller and Norman Sussex, four others died in the collision. George and Norman are buried next to each other in Haslar Cemetery, Gosport.
This report is hearsay and I’d like to find some conformation of the collision, so my question:-
Is it possible to look in the wartime logbook of an RN ship? That probably being the only place to find anything on the collision.
Final note. Norman Sussex has told me he visits his father’s grave each year to place a poppy on it. As George Miller is his only shipmate there, he is given a poppy too.
A wonderful gesture that touched my heart, so I would like to give a public word of thanks to Norman Sussex, a really good man.
Thanks for the update on the story Keith, very interesting. I believe log books from HM Ships are kept at National Archives and can be viewed there. I dont think they are available to be viewed online. I know there are one or two members who frequent National Archives and they may be able to tell you how they can be accessed.
I've been looking in the National Archives web site, and below is what I found. Looks like a lot of historically important logbooks have been thrown away. A great shame as very many people will never learn the truth about their relative's actions in WW2.
Still, I'll not give up hope, perhaps one day a lowly naval clerk in Portsmouth will discover an old dustbin full of the ships logs
Ships' Logs (1799-1967)
All of the series mentioned so far were, by the mid nineteenth century, superseded by the ships' logs now held in ADM 53 . These logs were kept by the Officer of the Watch for all naval ships including battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers and armed merchant cruisers. They record the standard navigational information as well as wheel and telegraph orders, deaths on board and visits by dignitaries or foreign officers. The Captain would inspect the log weekly and pass it to the appropriate Administrative Authority, from whence it would be sent to the Admiralty. Naval ships did not keep war diaries.
The list for ADM 53 is divided into several time periods or sections, although in each section the ships are listed in alphabetical order. This does not matter if you are doing an online search using the ship's name, and find everything you expect. Gaps in the sequence may be due to the ship undergoing a refit, or being lost during the war years. Some logs were retained as exhibits in Boards of Enquiry or court martial proceedings, and these are listed separately at the beginning of each new section of the ADM 53 paper list. For the Second World War, the logs of ships smaller than cruisers do not appear to have survived, apart from for 1939 and the early months of 1940.
I thought I might add a little to this thread. If anyone is interested, the Vesper Association meets each year in Skipton, North Yorkshire on the second weekend of September. The weekend begins with a dinner on the Friday night, a 'social' on the Saturday night and a Parade on the Sunday (this year it will be 11th September) which includes a Service in Holy Trinity Church Skipton. There is a White Ensign in the church which was dedicated at the Vesper Sunday Service in1996. Online records of the Craven Herald, the local newspaper, include photographs of the ceremony when two plaques were installed at the Canal Basin in Skipton. Unlike many associations, this one is still well supported.
HMS Vesper's link with Skipton began in 1942 when the government inspired War Savings Movement held 'Warship Week' and Skipton 'adopted' HMS Vesper. Has anyone more information on the history of 'Warship Week' please.
KM, Welcome to the forum and thank you for the info relating to the Vesper Association.
With regards to Warship week you may find this thread interesting......
Alan - thank you so much for leading me to the posts about the adoption of ships in WW2. A most interesting collection of information. I wonder how many of the Associations are still going strong? KM
A quick reminder that the Vesper Association weekend begins on Friday - 9th September 2011 in Skipton, North Yorkshire. This year the Secretary of the Association has kindly mounted a display in Holy Trinity Church, Skipton with information, photographs and other mementos of Vesper. Visitors to the church have shown a great interest in both Vesper and the wartime fund raising which led to Vesper being 'adopted' by Skipton. The 'Vesper Service' as it is known by church members begins at 9.45 am in Holy Trinity Church on Sunday 11th September. KM
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