Bunbury – Wellington District Western Australia
23/03/1915- Completed Medical Examination Blackboy Hill Camp, WA
10/04/1916- To 58 Depot as Private, Blackboy Hill WA
16/04/1916- To 16th Battalion 20th Reinforcements, Blackboy Hill WA
2/12/1916- To 4th Training Battalion , Codford, England
16/01/1917- Proceeded Overseas 4th Australian Division Base Depot Etaples France ex Folkestone ex Codford
18/01/1917- Admitted 18th General Hospital Camiers France ( Mumps )
8/02/1917- Rejoined 4th Australian Division Base Depot Etaples France ex Hospital
17/02/1917- Joined 16th Battalion in the field France ex Base Depot Etaples
11/04/1917- Reported MISSING IN ACTION France
11/04/1917- Reported Wounded in Action / Captured at Reincourt France & Taken as PRISONER OF WAR– Interred Limburg Camp
7/07/1917- Reported Died at Gefangenen Lazarett St. Saulve Camp,Valenciennes, France whist POW in the hands of the Germans- German Reports indicate that MILLER was shot whilst trying to escape from Camp. A number of Statements from fellow POW inmates contradicted the German view of events. Apparently MILLER was suffering from starvation and had scaled the perimeter fence to collect Potatoes from the adjoining French farm, and was intercepted whilst climbing back into the camp with his spoils, when shot at close range by a German Sentry.
Service Medals Awarded
British War Medal – No. 50337
Victory Medal – 49697
Memorial Plaque – No. 329356
Australian War Memorial, Canberra – Panel No. 80
Collie War Memorial, Western Australia.
PRISONER OF WAR – RED CROSS FILES SUMMARY
25/07/1917- London- From German List dated 23/06/1917- ” Missing 11/04/1917- Prisoner of War- Captured Reincourt 11/04/1917- Interred Limburg “.
12/10/1917- London- From German Death List dated 11/09/1917- ” Prisoner of War- Died 7/07/1917- District Not Stated- Notification from Limburg dated 24/08/1917 “.
1/11/1917- London- From German Death List Dated 9/10/1917- ” Prisoner of War- Died in St. Saulve Camp- Buried in Valenciennes Cemetery Grave 259 ( XVIII ) “.
27/11/1917- London – From German Death List Dated 30/11/1917- ” Prisoner of War- Died in Prison Camp St. Saulve 7/07/1917- Buried Military Cemetery Valenciennes – Grave 8, Coffin 259 “.
20/03/1918- London – Extract from Letter from German Red Cross dated 8/01/1918- ” Prisoner of War- In reply to yours of 25/10/1917- According to the Official List now before us. The British Soldier 6297. Pte. Joseph Miller 16th AIF “C” Company Died at St. Saulve Camp and is buried in Valenciennes Cemetery Grave No. 259. At present we have no further details , but we will commence investigations and will forward you any results of same “.
3/06/1918- London- Letter from German Red Cross dated 6/03/1918- ” Prisoner of War- In reply to yours of 25/10/1917. According to the Death List before us of British Soldiers , Pte. Joseph Miller 16th Battalion AIF, “C” Company died 7/07/1917 as a result of G.S.W abdomen and was buried in the Soldiers Cemetery Valenciennes Grave No. 761 Coffin No. 259. We have no further details “.
30/12/1918- A.D.G. London, H.G.- Informants:- Pte. T. Leiper- C Company 1514. and pte. N. P. Byron 1198. 13th Battalion B. Company, prisoners of war, Red Cross- ” Wounded and Missing 11/04/1917- Died Prisoner of War- At St. Saulve Camp about July 1917 , he got out of camp to dig up some potatoes or anything he could get to eat. He was on his way back , when shot by sentry at wall of camp. Hit in Heart. They took 4 of our men out of camp to carry his body in. He was taken then to hospital for burial. Our interpreter went down next day, when Authorities held some sort of Enquiry , when they brought it in that he had been trying to escape. His body was taken down to Valenciennes for Burial. Our interpreter of 13th Battalion told us this “.
28/01/1919- London- Informant :- Pte. J. Measures 1897 16th Battalion AIF- ” Died St. Saulve Camp 7/07/1917- Private Frank Ford 16th Battalion A.I.F. ( 20th Reinforcements ) saw him killed by a rifle shot from a German sentry. He had climbed over the wall of the camp where he was working behind the lines to gather a few potatoes and was shot while bringing them back. Miller’s number was 6297, his name Joseph and he came with the 20th Reinforcements “.
14/08/1919- London- Extract from Letter from Capt. Mills to AIF Headquarters dated 18/07/1919- ” Prisoner of War- In your second list of Prisoners of War died in German Hands this soldier is shown as having died at Gefangenen Lazarette St. Saulve France. This is confirmed by a card found in the Nachweise Buro Berlin. A further card has been found in the Nachweise Buro. From this second card it would appear that this soldier was shot whilst trying to escape. No further information regarding this case is available in the Nachweise Buro “.
15/10/1919- London- Received from Captain Mills 10/10/1919- From Certfied true Copy Limburg 10/09/1919 from Official War Council, Signed BRAUN Captain- ” Prisoner of War- Report of the Commandant 158 German Field Post 45 Aug. 10 1917- The English Prisoner Battalion Denain: The English prisoner of War Joseph Miller , No. 6297, escaped on the night of the 6/7 July 1917 from the prisoner Camp St. Saulve , and was shot by the sentry whilst escaping because he failed to halt when given the order. Death followed the shot injuries on 7th July 1917, between 12.15 and 12.30 a.m. That death was due to the shooting, was decided at the inquest on the body. Miller is buried in the soldier’s Cemetery St. Saulve , Grave No. XVIII Coffin No. 159 “.
COPY OF THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF ENQUIRY
To the English Prisoner Battalion DENAIN-
The English Prisoner of War No. 6297, Joseph Miller escaped from the prison Camp at Saint Saulve in the night from 6-7 July 1917, and was shot by the guard in his flight because he did not obey the command to halt. Death supervened on 7/07/1917 between 12.15 and 12.30 a.m as a result of gunshot wound. That death resulted from a gunshot wound is confirmed by the Inquest held. Miller is buried in this Soldier Cemetery – Grave 18. Coffin 159. Seal, Prisoner Kommanditive “.
GERMAN COURT OF ENQUIRY COVER – UP
A number of fellow inmate Prisoners of War witness statements are on Privte Miller’s National Archives File- There is no doubt that Miller was returning into the camp, after searching for food on the outside of the wall due to his starved condition. The following extract from a statement by 2370. L/CPL. TOMLEY, E. W. 16th Battalion A.I.F is believed to be the most accurate description of MILLER’S death- ” He was in a starved condition and broke out of the camp to get potatoes from a neighbouring garden. It was on his return to camp that he was shot through the heart by a sentry from a distance of a few yards at 11.00 p.m. ”
AUTHOR COMMENT – I believe it is most important for Private Miller’s relatives, both current and future Generations ,to have the exact Death Details recorded on this File, rather than the concocted version decided upon by the orchestrated German Court of Enquiry finding, that he was shot trying to escape.
*****- Thanks to John MILLER ( Soldier’s Grandson ) of Cardiff, W.A. and Grahame OLD ( Vice President of Collie-Cardiff R.S.L ) for the family photo of Private Joseph MILLER, taken prior to departure for active Service abroard.*****