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23/519 Walter John McDonald Miller NZEF

1st/2nd NZEF Group - Twice Wounded

  • The scarce 1st NZEF / 2nd NZEF group to Walter John McDonald Miller who was twice wounded in WW1 and served Egypt, Greece and Crete during WW2 with NZ Divisional Signals.


    Walter Miller was born 5th September 1894 at Dunedin, New Zealand. Son of Walter James and Helen Murray Miller (née McDonald). At the time of his enlistment in the NZEF in March 1915 he was working as a mechanical dentist for Smith and Butler of Invercargill. Miller served with B Company, 1st Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, and first saw action over Christmas 1915 in the short campaign against the Senussi in North Africa. He subsequently transferred to the Western Front, where he served with 2nd Battalion, NZRB. Miller suffered a gunshot wound to his arm on 15th September 1916 during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette and was evacuated to the UK. On his recovery he returned to France in April 1917, and was attached to No. 5 (NZ) Light Railway Operating Section. He was wounded for a second time, again in the arm, on 29th June 1917, and was evacuated to the UK. He was subsequently declared unfit for further service and returned to New Zealand for discharge.


    After his return, Miller was employed as a clerk by the Railways. He later worked as a traveller in the Auckland region before moving to Australia in the 1930s. He returned to New Zealand and on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, enlisted at Trentham as a signalman with the New Zealand Divisional Signals. Miller embarked with the Second Echelon in May 1940, bound for the UK. After several months in the UK, Miller deployed to Egypt to February 1941 and the following month was sent to Greece as part of Lustre Force. On the collapse of the Greek campaign, he was evacuated to Crete. Having served through the invasion of Crete, Miller was evacuated back to Egypt in June 1941. He spent some time in and out of hospital, and in February 1942 was medically down-graded to Grade II. This appears to have kept him away from the front line throughout 1942, and in 1943 he was returned to New Zealand for discharge. After the war Miller returned to work for the Railways in Wellington before moving to Dunedin in the late 1940s. Walter Miller died at Wakari Hospital, Dunedin on 23rd February 1969, and is buried at West Taieri Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Elizabeth.


    The 1914/15 Star in this group is privately engraved, so it is probable it had been lost and replaced at some stage - it is not an official replacement. The British War Medal and Victory Medal are both correctly impressed  23/519 RFM. W.J.M. MILLER N.Z.E.F. The WW2 medals are all unnamed as issued, and are confirmed as his correct entitlement.

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