Tom Murgatroyd Miller
Date of birth: 10.6.1921
Date of death: 9.10.1943
Regiment: Royal Navy
Family information: Husband of Joan nee Shaw and son of Robert Miller and Elsie nee Murgatroyd
Rank: Acting Leading Stoker
Service number: P/KX/97844
His first ship was HMS Wild Swan which took part in Dunkirk evacuation and was present when the Ark Royal was lost. On 14 June 1942 whilst on operations in Bay of Biscay, twelve Junker dive bombers attacked a Spanish fishing fleet, thinking it was a convoy. The steering gear of Wild Swan was blown apart and it collided with one of the trawlers and sank, but not before shooting down six of the attacking aircraft. He was one of 123 survivors who, after many hours in open boats, were picked up by HM Destroyer Vansittart and landed at Milford Haven.
He next served on Destroyer HMS Panther RN. On 9th October 1943 HMS Panther, in convoy with other ships, came under attack from 26 Stuker dive bombers south of Scarpanto Strait east of Karpathos Island, Greece. The US fighters protecting the convoy had just returned to base when the attack took place. One Stuker after another dived vertically, first attacking cruiser HMS Carlisle. They then concentrated on HMS Panther and the ship’s guns put up a tremendous barrage but suffered two direct hits from a plane piloted by Hans Peter Eisenbach. The explosions were much worse than the previous attack and her back was broken in two. She sank within one minute with heavy loss of life, and 36 of the ships company were killed, being recorded as ‘missing presumed killed.’
Tom Murgatroyd Miller was reported missing presumed killed 9 October 1943 age 22. He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire Panel 77 Column 3.
Tom Murgatroyd Miller was the son of Robert (Bob) Miller, who lost both legs in World War One and was a prisoner of war in Germany. Bob’s brother, George Henry, uncle of Tom, an RAF Sergeant, was also killed in World War Two.
Pontefract & Castleford Express 29 October 1943 p3 (with 2 photos)
“UNCLE AND NEPHEW
Mr and Mrs Robert Miller of Manor House Farm, Knottingley, have received word that their son Leading Stoker Tom Murgatroyd Miller, who was previously reported missing, is now presumed to have drowned when his ship HMS Panther was sunk. He was 22 and joined the Navy in June 1939, being called up in the following September and posted to the destroyer Wild Swan, which took part in the Dunkirk evacuation. During the operations his ship was attacked by 12 German planes, six of which she shot down, before her steering gear was blown away, which caused her to collide with a Spanish trawler and sink. Stoker Miller was a survivor and was posted to the Panther. He took part in the North African and Salerno landings. Before joining the Navy he was employed by Messrs Stephen Toulson and Sons, sand and gravel merchants. His father Mr ‘Bob’ Miller was in the KOYLI in the last war, was wounded at Bethune in 1918 and had both his legs amputated in a German prison camp [continued under the account for George Henry Miller].”
Tom was born on 10th June 1921 and was baptised on 25th June 1921 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Ropewalk. He was the son of Robert Miller and Elsie (nee Murgatroyd) who had married in the first quarter of 1921 and their marriage was registered at Pontefract.
In February 1943 Tom married Joan Shaw and their marriage was registered at Liverpool.