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James Miller

S/22643 Private

4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, 154th Infantry Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division

Age: 18

Date of Death: 14.4.18

Buried: (Royal) Berkshire Corner Memorial Panel 9

Family history: Eldest son of Andrew and Catherine Miller, 10 Frankerton, Denny. He had a sister. Prior to being called up he was employed by the Carrongrove Paper Company Ltd of Denny.

The action leading to his death

Although his place of death is not in the Salient, he is listed on a Memorial in the Salient.

April 1918 was the most critical month for the British Armies in France and Flanders, when they faced the third major German offensive of that spring ‘Operation Georgette’ known to the British as the Battle of the Lys. The battlefield covered an area from La Bassee Canal near Givenchy northwards past Armentieres almost to Ypres, a distance of some thirty-seven kilometres. The offensive had two strategic objectives the taking of the important railway junction at Hazebrouck and capturing Ypres. Operation Georgette and the earlier offensives of Operation Michael on the Somme and Operation Mars at Arras, marked a return to open warfare. The 1918 open warfare was a different style of open warfare from that of 1914 and can be seen as the way major wars, by industrial powers, were waged ever since.

(Linesman Map. Although a modern map it indicates the location of the fighting)

At the beginning of the day on the 11 April the 4th Gordons were in a defensive position on the La Bassee Canal. At 4am they sent forward two platoons to try to recover a foot bridge over the canal a little north of it flank which had been abandoned by other troops, but the enemy’s fire was too heavy. Although the front was exposed by the withdrawal of the other brigades, 152nd and 153rd Brigades, the 154th Brigades front was solid. The 4th Gordons had two companies forming a flank facing north, and another in close support. However, German pressure began to have an effect and at 1pm the right company of the flank guard was driven back two hundred yards and a little more ground was given up around Locon. The Gordons had held but had suffered heavy casualties. They were awaiting relief by the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division to take place in the early hours of the 12 April. The relief had not taken place until 7.55am and by 9.15am the Gordons were assembling to the south of the La Bassee Canal. One company of the Gordons fought a rearguard action north of the canal while the remainder manned the southern bank from a little east of Hinges to the area of Robecq. They were relieved on the 13 April and moved back to billets at Busnes. They were again called into the line on 14 April around Robecq and held the line until 17 April when they again went out of the line.

James was originally posted as missing however, a letter was received from the chaplain to the battalion confirming his death on 14 April.

Medals Awarded:

The British War Medal, Victory Medal

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