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

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Bangalow faces the music this weekend

WORLD-FAMOUS: Didgeridoo player and winner of the 2012 ARIA for best classical album Kulkadunga, William Barton, is part of the line up at the Bangalow Music Festival 2017.

Bangalow Music Festival will offer a number of music events

199 home sites approved in Evans Head

The Evans Head Manufactured Home Estate plans. Zoran Architecture.

Manufactured Home estate approved near aerodrome

Traditional Country music festival across the region

LINE UP: Country singer Reg Poole.

The Cedar Guitar Country Music Awards 2017

Local Partners

The simple pleasures of a Bruns photo comp

GET snapping in and around beautiful Brunswick Heads and be in the running to win the annual Simple Pleasures photo competition.

Warhol star brings satire show to Brunswick Heads

Penny Arcade is an American performance artist, actress, and playwright based in New York City.

Warhol muse Penny Arcade is coming to the area this weekend

Jungle Giants' new hits in Byron Bay

ON TOUR: The Jungle Giants are a four-piece band formed in 2011 in Brisbane, formed by of Sam Hales on vocals and guitar, Cesira Aitken on lead guitar, Andrew Dooris on bass and Keelan Bijker on drums and trombone.

Quiet ferocity is their new album.

Young people on stage at Brunswick Heads

ALMOST FAMOUS: Beth is one of the youngest members of the Brunswick Heads Youth Theatre.

They will be performing two original theatre pieces

Survivor twist bound to shock

TARA Pitt benefited from a shock twist on Australian Survivor, but will everyone be happy? She’s bracing for a viewer backlash.

The Block goes back to school with gorgeous kids rooms

Ronnie and Georgia's winning kids bedroom in a scene from The Block.

ONE magical bedroom received the first perfect score of the season.

A prince is sailing around the Whitsundays

Prince of Denmark Frederik is racing on Wild Oats in the Whitsundays.

Rumours circulating about where the princess is

What's on the small screen this week

Rob Collins and Jessica Marais in a scene from season two of The Wrong Girl.

JESSICA Marais returns in The Wrong Girl.

Playing Tom Cruise's wife was a dream for Sarah Wright

Tom Cruise and Sarah Wright in American Made.

The actress stars opposite Cruise in the action comedy

Taylor Swift wipes presence off social media

Singer Taylor Swift has deleted her social media accounts

Social media wipeout prompts rumours of a new album

Swedish TV drama turns up heat

Louise Nyvall stars in the Swedish TV series Farang.

Scandinavian crime thriller goes troppo

Airbnb, Stayz and co tipped to squeeze Coast housing market

HOLIDAY BOOM: Airbnb letting is putting a further squeeze on long-term rentals.

Councils exploring options to manage the industry

Developer tears up couple's contract for new home

Jade and Edward Roberts were stung by the sunset clause on the first day of their honeymoon.

The developer has the right to do this under the sunset clause

Reports of Ibrahim family connections to farm and food hub

John Ibrahimat Bluesfest 2012.

REPORTS circulate colourful Sydney family have investments on the NR

Stunning, heritage-listed Coast home going under the hammer

STUNNING: Buderim House, a stunning heritage-listed Queenslander estate, is going to auction.

Coast home that played host to royalty is set for auction

Internet king Kim Dotcom house-hunting

Kim Dotcom and his partner Elizabeth Donnelly have apparently been in Queenstown scoping out houses. Photo / Kim Dotcom

Dotcom tweeted pictures and video of himself and partner Elizabeth Donnelly

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!