Search our records : Leonard Thomas Miller

Surname: Miller
Forename(s): Leonard Thomas
Service Number: 23939
Force: Army
Unit: 9th (Service) Battalion Devonshire Regiment
Date of Death: 11th March 1917
Where Buried / Commemorated: Thiepval Memorial
Civilian Occupation: Gardener
Parents: Henry and Flora Miller
Home address: 5 Ottons Court, Beer

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Leonard Miller was born in Beer in 1888.   His parents, Henry and Flora Miller, lived in Ottons Court.  He and his wife, Elsie, lived at 5 West View, Beer.

The 1901 census shows Leonard, then aged 12, living with his parents, together with his 3 brothers (Reginald, Garnet and Lionel) and his sisters Nora and Annetta (who was only 4 months old).  Every member of the family was born in Beer.  Both Leonard's father and his elder brother Reginald were fishermen.

By the time of the 1911 census, Leonard's father had died. Leonard was living with his mother, Flora, his brother Garnet, and Garnet's wife of less than a year, Emily, who was born in Seaton.  Garnet was described as a fisherman, while Leonard  was a gardener (see the cutting from the Pulman's Weekly News below).

Leonard served as a Private in the 9th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment, and was killed on 11th March 1917, during a spell of a fortnight which his battalion spent in tents at Mailly-Maillet on the Somme.  During this time the battalion was out of the front line, in 'Brigade support', providing working parties carrying ammunition and stores up to the front line, making roads and extending a light railway. 

The battalion war diary entry for 11th March reads as follows:

"Battalion in Brigade support. Working parties found.  Sec. Lieuts. Martin and Clarke rejoined from hospital.  Sec. Lieuts STEWART, STEVENS and BOWDEN joined for duty.  Casualties 3 killed, 6 wounded on working parties.[1]"

Leonard seems to have been one of the three men killed on the working party. The war diary gives no information on how he died, but there is a clue in  the Pulmans Weekly News for 27th March 1917:

"THE LATE PRIVATE L. MILLER - As announced in a recent issue, Private Leonard Miller, of the Devon Regiment, has been accidentally killed in France.  He was well known and greatly respected in the district, being formerly employed as a gardener at Highcliffe and The Grove, and joined up a few months ago.  He was married about a year ago, and leaves a widow and young child.  The news was conveyed to the bereaved wife by a comrade of the deceased, and has since been confirmed by the War Office".

Leonard has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing on the Somme.

[1] War diary, 9th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment (the National Archives, Kew)