Feature

The Brothers Miller from Ballina

BROTHERS: Edison Gordon and Robert Percival Miller.
BROTHERS: Edison Gordon and Robert Percival Miller.

NO-ONE can ever say definitely how many people died in a war.

For example, do you include civilians?

And what about the Auxiliary Services who fought so hard as fire-fighters, ambulance officers, part-time soldiers, doctors, nurses, and so on.

Then there was the merchant navy which struggled daily to deliver precious cargos of food, and essential supplies as well as troops; who brought home the wounded and sometimes had to bury the dead at sea.

It is sometimes difficult to obtain accurate information about the merchant navy.

One story we do have, however, concerns a young seaman who decided he wanted to fly aeroplanes.

This young man was Edison Gordon Miller (known as Gordon) and he was an engineer attached to the merchant ship Afric.

His plan was to leave the ship at its home port of Liverpool, England, and to join the air force.

It is not certain whether he intended joining the British forces or the Australian Flying Corps.

Gordon's parents were Thomas and Charlotte Miller of 'Glen Gordon', Tamar St, Ballina.

They had another son, Robert Percival, Gordon's younger brother.

Robert had tried to enlist in the army in August, 1914, but was rejected.

It is not known why he was rejected, but it could have been simply because he had a bad tooth.

In the early days of the war the officials were very particular.

He tried again in October and was successful.

He was only 19 at the time and he joined the 5th Light Horse Regiment.

He had been married to Marcella Cambridge prior to leaving Australia.

Both the Miller and Cambridge families were early settlers in the area.

Robert returned to Australia in 1919 after fighting at Gallipoli as a volunteer infantryman and later in Palestine with the Light Horse.

He was wounded several times.

His brother Gordon, however, was not so lucky.

He was drowned when the Afric was torpedoed in the English Channel in February 1917.

He was 23.

The Afric was a passenger/cargo steamship built in Ireland in 1899 for the White Star Line.

It was used on the Australia-England service.

In October 1914 it left Sydney carrying the first NSW and Queensland Army contingents.

It joined the rest of the convoy in Western Australia and set off to join the other British forces.

On its return to Sydney the Afric was converted at Cockatoo Island dry dock to transport 549 troops and 500 horses.

It then undertook five more transport voyages from Australia.

German submarines were deadly on marine vessels as they approached the English coastline.

They could hear the engines throbbing and because of this the English employed sailing ships which, unless sighted, could dodge and pass into a port without being attacked.

The Afric was 12 miles off the Eddystone Lighthouse at 5.15am on February 12, 1917 when it was hit by a torpedo near the engine-room.

It caused an explosion which stopped the engines, put out all lights, and severed communications.

All the engineers and greasers on watch were killed.

It is assumed Gordon Miller was one of these.

Topics:  anzac-centenary history war



Sneaky $1 parking hike takes motorists by surprise

The cost to park at the Lismore Rowing Club car park is now $1 more. Photo : Mireille Merlet-Shaw

It now costs $1 more to park at the rowing club.

Flu cases jump by 259% in Northern NSW

Community members are urged to access the 2017 flu vaccine.

Is there a flu crisis on the Northern Rivers?

Ten things to do in Ballina, Byron Bay and Lismore this week

The 1975 perform to a huge crowd at Splendour in the Grass 2014. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Spending a week in the Northern Rivers? Check this list out

Local Partners

Channing Tatum’s cheeky $2400 sex toy prank

ALWAYS the prankster, Channing Tatum decided he would go all out after wrapping his latest movie.

Still downloading Game of Thrones? Expect a letter

You mean to tell me HBO want to protect one of the world’s most popular shows?

HBO title holds record as most illegally downloaded show

Sam Newman's Footy Show performance baffles panel

Sam Newman on the Footy Show

“Cat got your tongue tonight has it?”

OJ Simpson loses cool as he begs to go free

Simpson was convicted in 2008 of enlisting some men he barely knew, including two who had guns, to retrieve from two sports collectables sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier.

Tension at the parole hearing didn't stop OJ going free

Lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, dies age 41

Coroner spokesman Brian Elias says they are investigating Bennington's death as an apparent suicide but no additional details are available.

Chester Bennington's body was found in LA at 9am local time.

Chester Bennington’s tragic Chris Cornell connection

Bennington sings at Chris Cornell’s funeral on May 26 in Los Angeles. Picture: AP

Bennington reportedly godfather of one of Cornell’s three children

Holy schnit: This steak's the size of a small child

WHAT A STEAK: Sarah Atkins was amazed to see the Pinnacle Pub crumbed steak was bigger than one of her four-month-old twin daughters, Jorja.

It's not every day you get served a steak as big as a baby

Island resort living from just $250 a week

Couran Cove on Stradbroke Island is undergoing a makeover. Photo: Steve Holland

Resort offering permanent rentals at almost half normal rental price

New era for stunning historic Rocky venue

St Aubins Village, West Rockhampton.

St Aubins Village reopens to the public after years of closure.

Cashed-up investors driving Ipswich's luxury housing market

SOLD: Elia Youssef bought a home on Hilton Drive Camira for $830,000.

New wave of interstate investors and young super savers in town

Boom or bust? '5.5 million moving into retirement'

National Seniors said that the inequalities with the retirement sector are "a big problem and it's a growing problem".

"It's a big problem and it's a growing problem."