Private Auguste MILLER
 

Regiment/Service:
Highland Light Infantry
(Formerly: Royal Scots)
Unit:
10/11th Battalion
Service Number:
40029
(Formerly: 11561 Royal Scots)
Date of Death:
26 May 1917 - Died (Accidentally Killed)
Age:
21
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Bay 8



Personal History:


According to the Censuses, Auguste was born in Germany in c. 1896 (SDGW says Scarborough), the son of Peter (Musician) and Annie Miller (both born in Germany) shortly before they moved to live in Scarborough, Yorkshire. In 1901 (Census RG 13/4531) the family was living at 8 Halls Yard, Scarborough. Auguste had 3 older siblings, Oskar, Malwine and Hedwig, and two younger, Hilda and Alfred P.
Four more children were to be born before the 1911 Census (RG 14/28938) - Charles, Elizabeth, Herbert and Kate - although at that time six of the children, headed by Nina, but not including Auguste, were living at 14 Spreight Lane, Scarborough. Their parents, with Herbert, were visiting the Holland family at 10 Jubilee Street, Llandudno, Wales. Auguste was working as a "Domestic Cook", at 30 Clarendon Road, Notting Hill, London, with the 'Back' family. (Census RG 14/162)

At some time in between then and Auguste's death either his family moved to live in Buxton, or he moved, perhaps for work. 'The Buxton Advertiser', in reporting Auguste's death, stated that his father was "... of The Hippodrome Orchestra". (See Footnote below.) His mother, Annie, died in April 1916, and it was to attend her funeral that Auguste paid his last visit home on leave.

Military History:
Auguste initially enlisted in the Royal Scots as a 'Bandsman' (clarionetist) at York, before transferring to the Highland Light Infantry, where he served as a 'Stretcher Bearer'. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War in France on the 16th March 1915. His Service papers have not survived and without them it is not possible to say what his War service postings were or when he transferred to the Highland Light Infantry.

His initial Service Number in the Royal Scots (by comparing with others with similar numbers) indicates that Auguste may have enlisted before the War began, late in 1913, early in 1914. As he entered France before either of the Highland Light Infantry Battalions (see below) it must have been as a reinforcement for one of the Royal Scots Battalions. Without more information, however, there are a number of possible Battalions, both Regular and Territorial, he could have been with.

Both the 10th and 11th (Service) Battalions of the Highland Light Infantry were formed at Hamilton in August 1914 as part of K1 (Kitchener's First New Army) and placed under orders of 28th Brigade in 9th (Scottish) Division. The Division landed at Boulogne 12 May 1915. On the 14th May 1916 the 10th and 11th Battalions were amalgamated to form 10/11th Battalion and were transferred to 46th Brigade in 15th (Scottish) Division. According to the CWGC the Infantry lost 452 men on the First Day of the Battle of the Somme (1st July 1916) alone, with 78 more in the next 2 days, although 14 of the 27 10/11th Battalion losses in June occurred on the 30th.

A lot of the drafts of subsequent reinforcements were made up of men with no previous overseas experience (e.g. 2nd and 3rd line territorials). However, some drafts comprised men who had already been at the front and who were returning after being either wounded or invalided sick. The Scotsman archive has no mention of his original number, 11561, in the published casualty lists. This suggests that he returned to the UK as sick rather than wounded. then re-badged to the H.L.I. from the Royal Scots.

Private 40029 Auguste Miller would probably have been in the first draft of post July 1916 reinforcements for the Highland Light Infantry. If the reinforcements were 'processed' at the same speed as other re-badged men of the lowland infantry regiments, then it would be expected that he landed in France during August 1916.

This being the case, during the later stages of The Battle of the Somme the 15th (Scottish) Division took part in The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15th - 22nd September 1916, and The Battle of the Transloy Ridges, 1st -18th October 1916, including attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt. In 1917, during the Battle of Arras, they were again involved at The First Battle and Second Battles of the Scarpe (9th - 14th April and 23rd -24th April, respectively) in which the Division captured Guemappe.

'The Buxton Advertiser', in reporting Auguste's death, stated that he had been wounded several times "... the last time on April 28th", but was ".. accidentally killed", confirmed by an annotation on his Medal Index Card. His Battalion had 2 Officers and 60 Other Ranks killed between 23rd and 28th April 1917.

The H.L.I. War Diary for the day Auguste was "accidentally killed" reads:

"LE PONCHEL 25-05-1917
Physical training in early morning. Training as above. B & C Coys on musketry (applications). A riding school for Officers was started.

26-05-1917
Training as above."

It is possible that Auguste was killed during the musketry training at Le Ponchel. Normally that would suggest he would have been buried, but he now has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. Maybe his grave was subsequently lost in future fighting. He was the only man of the 10/11th Battalion to lose his life in the two week period either side of the 26th May 1917.


Footnotess:
· "The Hippodrome" was part of The Concert Hall, (now known as the Octagon) designed by Buxton Architect,
   Robert Rippon Duke, and was opened in 1875

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 21 July 1917.
· I am grateful to Michelle Young for the photo of Auguste's name on the Arras Memorial
· ..... and to Colin Taylor (via the Great War Forum) for the War Diary extract.
· ..... and to Stuart (via the Great War Forum) for the information on Battalion re-badging.


Commemorated on:

Link to CWGC Record
The Arras Memorial
Auguste's name on the Memorial
Concert Hall Buxton
The Concert Hall, Buxton (c. 1910)
poppy