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Private James Miller VC

James Miller was born on 13th March 1890 at Taylor's Farm, Houghton near Preston, the son of George and Mary Miller. The family later moved to 1 Ollerton Terrace. Withnell, near Chorley and James worked in the local paper mill at Withnell Fold. Miller enlisted on the outbreak of war. As No. 12639 Private James Miller, he joined one of Lord Kitchener's New Army Units, the 7th Battalion King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, which was raised at Bowerham Barracks in September 1914.

Miller went overseas with 7th Battalion King's Own in July 1915. He saw action at Lens and Loos in the autumn, before to moving to the Somme in April 1916.

The Battalion was in action at La Boiselle between 3rd-7th July and spent the end of July consolidating a position near Mametz Wood and Bazentin-le-Petit.

After the battalion captured enemy positions near Bazentin-le-Petit, on 30th July. Miller was ordered to take a message across the lines during a break in communications. The London Gazette recorded his act of gallantry:-

"For most conspicuous bravery. His battalion was consolidating a position after its capture by assault. Private Miller was ordered to take an important message under heavy shell and rifle fire, and to bring back a reply at all costs. He was compelled to cross the open, and on leaving the trench was shot almost immediately in the back, the bullet coming through his abdomen. In spite of this, with heroic courage and self-sacrifice, he compressed the gaping wound in his abdomen, delivered his message, staggered back with his answer, and fell dead at the feet of the officer to whom he delivered it. He gave his life with a supreme devotion to duty. "

James Miller is buried in Dartmoor Cemetery near Becordel on the Somme. A Celtic Cross of Cornish granite was erected on the edge of Withnell village churchyard. This memorial was paid for by public subscription. It was cleaned and restored in 1988. The Victoria Cross was presented to Miller's father by King George V at Buckingham Palace. Ellis Williams, a former Colour Sergeant ^ in the King's Own and the then Secretary of the Old Comrades Association, recorded Miller's gallantry in a contemporary poem entitled "The Message".

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