AIR MAN: Warrant Officer Harold Arthur Miller served with the RAAF during the second World War.
AIR MAN: Warrant Officer Harold Arthur Miller served with the RAAF during the second World War.

Brothers in arms pay the ultimate sacrifice

MOST of the men from our area who enlisted in the second World War served in the Army.

We should however not forget those who served in the Air Force, Navy, merchant navy or indeed the many auxiliary forces.

Some of these men never returned home and most have only their name listed on a memorial plaque in a distant land. A few were buried in foreign soil. They are of course all remembered on the War Memorial in Canberra.

Two local airmen who never returned home were Warrant Officer Harold Arthur Miller and his brother Flight Sergeant Sydney Frederick Miller, both born in Ballina.

They were part of bomber squadrons attached to the Royal Air Force.

Sydney was the older brother, born in 1915, the son of Frederick and Gertrude Miller.

He enlisted in November 1940 while working as a farmer at Caniaba. Before joining the Air Force he had been a member of the 41st Battalion of the Militia.

He left Australia on December 28, 1940 with other recruits bound for training in Canada.

Many of our Air Force recruits trained in Canada under a Commonwealth Training Scheme. They then went to England and joined an RAF unit.

Sydney Miller was posted initially to 143 Squadron but on May 1, 1943 was posted to 58 Squadron.

Both squadrons flew bombers though the 143 plane was usually the heavy fighter-bomber known as the Beaufighter.

Sydney's orders took him over the shipping lanes where the squadrons protected convoys and coastal shipping while fighting off the enemy. At times this meant flying over northern icy waters.

Sydney Miller's aircraft was shot down over the Bay of Biscay on June 1, 1943. He was 27 years of age.

He is remembered on the Air Force Memorial at Runnymede, England.

There is some confusion over exactly where his aircraft crashed as one record states it was over the Bay of Biscay while another record states he was buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

If the latter is the case, perhaps he was picked up by a German boat and later died in Germany.

His brother, Harold Miller, was born in 1919 and he enlisted shortly after Sydney, in January 1941.

Before enlisting he was working as an audit clerk while residing at Lindendale.

He completed his preliminary training in Australia and embarked for England in December 1941.

He joined the 461 Squadron which was an RAAF unit under the overall control of the RAF. It had only just been formed and was to fly over Europe and the Atlantic, especially the Bay of Biscay. One of its main roles was to hunt and sink U-boats in the Bay and it was very successful at this task.

Harold's aircraft went missing while on a mission over the Bay of Biscay.

On August 13, 1943 the crew, including Harold, were declared killed in action during a flying battle. He was 23 years of age.

His body was never found and his name, like that of his brother Sydney, is recorded on the Air Force Memorial at Runnymede.

The Miller family must have been shattered to lose two sons but their brothers - Gordon Selwyn and Victor John - survived having served with the Australian Army.

Gordon was a signaller in the 29/46 Battalion and saw some of the heaviest fighting in the south-west Pacific but came home safely.

Victor was not so lucky. After fighting in Malaya with the Australian Army Service Corpshe spent more than four years as a Japanese prisoner of war and came home a wreck.

He and his wife Beryl later had a dairy farm at North Creek, Ballina. He is remembered as a fine man and neighbour.

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