Sidney Lawrence Miller
Date of birth: 1889
Date of death: 26.9.1916
Regiment: Lancashire Fusiliers
Family information: Husband of Alice nee Downes
Service number: 27636
Sidney enlisted at Wakefield in May 1915 initially as Private 22624 in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and then transferred to the 9th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers as Private 27636. He arrived abroad on 3rd December 1915 according to his medal roll card. The Fusiliers had begun fighting in Gallipoli, moving on to Egypt and finally landed in France in July 1916. They took part in “The Attack on the Wundt Werk” which commenced during the early evening of 14th September 1916 and then The Battle of Flers-Courcelette (September 15th – 22nd) before moving on to the Battle of Thiepval Ridge (26th – 28th September) where Sidney was killed in action on 26th September 1916 (his medal card says “presumed dead”). The battalion had carried out an attack but had suffered heavily with 400 other rank soldiers killed. Sidney was awarded the 15 Star, Victory and British War Medals. He was buried in the British Cemetery, Pozieres, France.
The Wakefield Express reported his death on 21st July 1917:
“Official news has been received by Mrs Miller of Beaver’s Row, Kirkhamgate, of the death in action of her husband, Private Sidney Laurence Miller, of the Lancashire Fusiliers. He had previously been reported missing from September 26th, but news has now been received from the Records Office stating that he was killed on that date. Private Miller was 29 years of age and previously worked at Gawthorpe. He enlisted in May 1915. He was the son of Mr and Mrs John R Miller, of Ashdown Road, Sandal. He leaves a widow and three children.”
On 21st July his family put the following memorial in The Wakefield Express:
“MILLER – Private Sidney Lawrence Miller, Lancashire Fusiliers of Beaver’s Row Kirkhamgate, Wakefield, eldest son of Mr and Mrs John R Miller, Ashdown Road, Sandal, aged 29 killed in action in France 26th September 1916.
He fought for Britain’s King
Its home and beauty
He gave his life, doing his duty.
Mourned by Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters.”
His brother Henry Wheaton Miller was killed the following year and is commemorated on the memorial at St Helen’s Sandal. It was reported in the Wakefield Express 17th November 1917:
“Another son of Mr and Mrs J R Miller of Princess Terrace, Ashdown Road, Sandal, has paid the supreme sacrifice in the person of Private Henry W Miller a Machine Gunner in the Royal Marine Light Infantry.
This is the second son Mr and Mrs Miller have lost through the war, Private Sidney Lawrence Miller, Lancashire Fusiliers being killed on September 26th 1916.”
Sidney was baptised on 10th March 1889 at Holy Trinity Church Wakefield, son of John Robert Miller, a carpenter and Annie who lived in Sanderson Street. In 1901 the family were living in Heath View, Sandal. Sidney was part of a large family – the 1911 census records that John and Annie had 10 children of whom 8 were still living but looking back at the censuses there were actually 11 children between 1879 and 1905. Another anomaly was the length of marriage which is recorded as 23 years which would mean they married in 1888. It is possible that the first three children were not from this marriage especially as there appears to be a gap between Herbert in 1882 and Sidney in 1889. Indeed, further investigation reveals that they were actually registered under a different surname but were recorded on the 1891 census as Miller. Sidney’s father, John, had been born in Norfolk and Annie came from Filey, North Yorkshire but the first four children including Sidney had been born in Goole.
On 5th February 1910 Sidney married Alice Downes at St Paul’s Alverthorpe. Both were said to live in Alverthorpe and Sidney was a miner. The following year the couple were living in Outwood with their two children, John William aged 2 and Lily 3 months. Sidney is a carter for a builder and said to have been born in Goole, but strangely there is a second census record for Sidney Lawrence Miller born in Goole who is a carter for a builder and boarding with the builder in New Ackworth. It seems he was working away from home and was recorded twice. He had another daughter, Vera, in 1913 and according to a family member she was born in Kirkhamgate.