J Miller 1890-1920
John Joseph Miller was born in Wigan Lancashire on Thursday 15th November 1890 and raised as a Roman Catholic. The diminutive John enlisted at nearby Preston, where he joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry and the Royal Marine Band on 13th February 1905. He was assigned to Plymouth Division and the Royal Marine Band as a Band Boy, training as a Baritone and Cello player. John’s was assigned to a Foster Parent, Mrs F. Momeyeld of Chapel Street, Bere Alston in Devon.
John’s first encounter of sea life was with the band onboard the cruiser HMS Drake for six months, before embarking on another cruiser HMS Leveithan between October-December 1909, the ship was assigned to the 4th Cruiser Squadron. HMS Hercules was his next ship from July to December 1911, she was recommissioned with a full crew on 31st July and was assigned as the flagship of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet.
John then joined the Royal Marine Band onboard the battleship HMS King George V in March 1913 prior to the beginning of the First World War. She spent the bulk of her career assigned to the Home and Grand Fleets often serving as a flagship. John was onboard and participated in the failed attempt to intercept the German ships that had bombarded Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in late 1914, and he was a veteran of the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. Other than that, her service during the First World War generally consisted of routine patrols and training in the North Sea. He disembarked the George on 8th March 1918 for the final time.
John was posted to HMS Glorious for eighth months in June 1918, she was the second of the three Courageous-class battlecruisers built for the Royal Navy during the First World War. The ship was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet on 21st November 1918, he left this posting in February 1919. The Battleship HMS Benbow was his next vessel for just a few weeks, before serving for six months on HMS St Vincent between June and December 1919, she was reduced to reserve at the time and was a gunnery training ship at Portsmouth. He was then assigned to the band onboard the battle cruiser HMS Courageous for twelve months, an oppo of his told how John once had an epileptic fit. John was later stationed at the Royal Naval School of Music, Eastney and amongst other qualities, he was a keen and exceptional footballer.
J Miller passed away on Wednesday 15th December 1920 due to illness
aged 30. John’s body was discovered in bed at a local restaurant.
The Assistant Manager of the restaurant told the Coroner that the deceased
booked a room as usual on the 14th, asking to be called at 4am the next
day. Knocking on his door at that hour in the morning, the witness received
no reply, and on entering the room, found the deceased dead in bed.
Doctor Fisk attributed his death to bronchitis but found a tumour on
his brain about the size of an egg and weighing 2ozs, which he said
would account for his fits and headaches. John’s Foster Mother,
Mrs F. Momeyeld was notified. The coroner returned a verdict that his
death was due to natural causes.
Gravesite Photo: Roy Hallin