There was a large family with the surname Miller, going back at least to William Miller, born 1690. Remember to use the Search facility - there are about 50 hits for Miller in Feb 2011 (ignoring all the references to millers in local water mills!)
They are linked by marriage to the Taylor family (and from them to the Tubb and Dubber families).
Ron Wilson has contacted the Virtual Museum, and is researching the family (Feb 2011).
William Miller (born 1690 Hungerford, died 18.7.1753 Hungerford)
- #1 William Miller (26.4.1725 Hungerford - 14.11.1777 Hungerford)
#1 John (born 1780, Speen)
m Elizabeth Tubb (Bef 28.6.1786 - Sep 1853, Hungerford)
#1 Thomas (19.7.1819 Hungerford --> Australia)
m Rebecca Taylor (Born 1818)
Sarah Miller (from Australia) kindly added (by email Aug 2015): additions to the Miller family records (9 descendants of Thomas and Rebecca Miller) on the Discovering our Anzacs website.
Parish registers include the following entries for Miller (and Millar):
18 Feb 1616 Richard, s/o Thomas Miller
21 Sep 1718 Ann, d/o Wiliam & Ann Millar
13 Mar 1720 Elizabeth, d/o William & Ann Millar
9 Aug 1723 Mary, d/o William, & Ann Miller
25 Apr 1725 William, s/o William & Ann Miller
20 Apr 1738 Edward, s/o Robert Miller
11 May 1740 John s/o Robert & Ann Miller
25 Sep 1841 William, s/o Robert & Ann Miller
18 May 1744 Mary, d/o Robert & Ann Miller
18 May 1752 William, s/o William & Sarah Miller
27 Dec 1753 Ann, d/o William & Sarah Miller
18 Jul 1755 William, s/o William & Sarah Miller
21 Oct 1757 John, s/o William & Sarah Miller
29 Aug 1760 Mary, d/o William & Mary Miller
17 Sep 1762 William, s/o William & Sarah Miller
4 May 1764 George, s/o William & Sarah Miller
11 Oct 1772 Elizabeth, d/o Mathew & Anne Miller
13 Jan 1775 Anne, d/o Mathew & Anne Miller
11 Jun 1777 Mathew, s/o Mathew & Anne Miller
8 Oct 1784 Sarah, d/o John & Mary Miller
Plus 41 Baptisms in the 1800-1899 period.
6 Jul 1774 Thomas Barnes to Anne Miller
22 Jul 1781 William Miller to Elizabeth Holmes
22 May 1783 George Carfuley (Kings Clear, Southampton) to Mary Miller (OTP)
26 Jun 1798 John Miller (OTP to Sarah Sop (OTP)
10 Oct 1804 John Miller (OTP) to Elizabeth Tubb (OTP)
31 Oct 1805 Samuel Tubb (OTP) to Elizabeth Miller (OTP)
4 Nov 1822 Henry Miller to Mary Tidcombe
18 Nov 1824 Joseph Holder to Hannah Miller
27 Jul 1828 Joseph Miller to Marianne Bennett
16 Aug 1830 Charles Avenell to Sarah Millar
19 Nov 1831 James Spicer to Sarah Millar
9 Nov 1834 Charles Dixon Miller to Rachel Lawrence Cleaver
24 Jan 1836 James Millar to Elizabeth Needham
MILLAR Elizabeth 4 Mar 1826 23 daughter of Samuel High St
MILLAR Hannah 25 Jul 1831 80 High St
MILLAR Harriet 4 Nov1814 3 daughter of John & Elizabeth Church Lane
MILLAR James 8 Feb 1837 22 Moon Lane
MILLAR Matthew 16 Dec 1810 65
MILLAR Robert 4 Jul 1845 c24 traveller killed by lightning sheltering under tree London Rd 3 Jul: coroners warrnt+
MILLER Alfred Percy 20 Jan1944 44 21 Priory Place
MILLER Alice Emma 26 Jun 1895 10m Sanham Green
MILLER Alpheus Thomas John 13 Feb 1958 79 Hungerford, 15 Fairview Rd
MILLER Ann 23 Jul 1719 daughter of William & Ann
MILLER Ann 5 Dec 1746 wife of William
MILLER Ann 22 Jun1755 wife of John
MILLER Ann 30 Mar1782 widow
MILLER Ann 5 Dec 1815 37 wife of Samuel High St
MILLER Ann 27 Aug 1889 29 Hungerford
MILLER Anne 4 Jun1831 94 Charnham St
MILLER Beatrice Anne 15 Apr 1882 3 High St
MILLER Charles 12 Jul 1838 23 Moon Lane
MILLER Charles 2 Dec 1846 14w
MILLER Charles 13 Feb 1901 42 Hungerford
MILLER Dorothie 21 Feb 1633/4 wife of Nathaniel
MILLER Edward 22 Jan 1739/0 son of Robert
MILLER Eleanor 28 Jan 1863 75 Hungerford Union House
MILLER Elizabeth 10 Oct 1647 widow
MILLER Elizabeth 25 Jan 1774 daughter of Matthew
MILLER Elizabeth 26 Nov 1839 15 Moon Lane
MILLER Elizabeth 7 Aug 1853 70 Hungerford
MILLER Elizabeth 1 May 1897 69 Down Gate died 25 Apr
MILLER Emily 28 Apr 1894 10m Sanham Green
MILLER Emma 26 Apr 1863 3 Hungerford
MILLER Fanny 8 Apr 1939 86 6 Park St
MILLER George 14 Jan 1773 son of Wm
MILLER Giles 7 Jun 1899 70 Park St died 4 Jun
MILLER Giles Henry 27 Jun 1955 89 Kintbury, No-Trees
MILLER Hannah 12 Mar 1863 8m Hungerford
MILLER Harriet 27 Nov 1773 child of Matthew
MILLER Harriet 20 Aug 1837 2m daughter of Ann Moon Lane
MILLER Henry John 28 May 1888 15m Sanham Green
MILLER Hughe 5 Jan 1624/5 son of William
MILLER John 24 Aug 1740 son of Robert
MILLER John 23 Feb 1862 82 Hungerford
MILLER John 9 Jan 1886 54 Sanham Green
MILLER Joseph 13 Apr 1853 3 Hungerford
MILLER Joseph 9 May 1882 74 Park St
MILLER Joseph Francis 13 Dec 1870 1y11m Hungerford, Down Pits
MILLER Louisa 17 Aug 1852 inf Hungerford
MILLER Martha 30 Jul 1717 daughter of William & Ann
MILLER Mary 7 Oct 1784 wife of John
MILLER Mary 31 Aug 1798 daughter of John & Sarah
MILLER Mary 16 Oct 1853 46 Hungerford
MILLER Mary 31 Dec 1887 23 High St
MILLER Mary Ann 20 Nov 1920 81 Park St
MILLER Matthew 27 Nov 1773 child of Matthew
MILLER Molly 11 Apr 1852 64 Hungerford
MILLER Nathaniell 9 Sep 1643
MILLER Priscilla 29 Aug 1887 56 High St
MILLER Rebecca 18 Oct 1879 22 High St
MILLER Richard 26 Jun 1647
MILLER Robert 20 Mar 1732/3 son of Robert & Ann
MILLER Robert 18 Jan 2 Mar 1776
MILLER Samuel 2 Mar 1835 23 son of Samuel Cow Lane
MILLER Samuel 7 Aug 1841 77 Cow Lane
MILLER Sara 22 Feb 1648/9 daughter of Widow Miller
MILLER Sarae 25 Mar 1637 daughter of Widow Miller
MILLER Sarah 22 May 1781 widow
MILLER Thomas 5 Feb 1857 63 Hungerford
MILLER William 18 Jul 1753
MILLER William 22 Jan 1754 son of William
MILLER William 7 Aug 1759 son of Willm
MILLER William 26 Feb 1763 son of William
MILLER William 14 Jan 1777
MILLER William 2 Oct 1804 schoolmaster
MILLER William 18 Feb 1828 inf son of George & Sarah Stangrove Hill
MILLER William 14 Aug 1931 68 Marlborough
MILLER William George 1 Feb 1898 7w Hungerford Newtown
MILLER William John 27 Jan 1894 5w Sanham Green
The HHA Archives included a long document (undated, and unassigned) giving considerable information about the Miller family, both in Australia, and in Hungerford. The first part is reproduced below. The full document is now available as a pdf document.
Tim Giles Miller contacted the Virtual Museum in July 2011 saying "I believe this (the bottom section and the associated PDF) was written by my Dad, Rev Robert John Miller, who died last year on the 15th September 2010".
In South Australia:
Thomas Miller, born July 19th 1819, (Christened on 13-8-1820) at Hungerford, Berkshire, England. In early life he attended the services of the Established Church. Thomas Miller with his devoted wife Rebecca and one son arrived in Adelaide, S.A. on the "Fairlie" on 7th July 1840. The earliest home was probably a small cottage in Gilles Street near W H Rush's saddlery, similar to cottages there in 1986. William Henry, the names of the 3rd son, were the same as those of William Henry Rush. His wife Rebecca and son Thomas jnr. from 1849 to 1846, lived in a small cottage in Gilles Street, Adelaide. The Jan 1841 Census records that Thomas Miller, head of a household, lived with his wife and a son under 7 yrs of age at Gilles St. Adelaide. His sons Giles 7-3-1842, William Henry 11-2-1844 were born and registered in the Adelaide District and baptised at Holy Trinity Anglican Church.
Rush's saddlery establishment was 3 doors west of Louisa St on the south side of Gilles St and he still lived there in 1884-5. Mary Jane Rush was registered as a seamstress 1iving in nearby Charlotte Place in 1885. On the corner of Louisa St was a shop run by J Downton, and Charles Williams a compositor was next door to the saddlery. A little further west were CP Glover, Stanley Pritchard a plasterer, and W Schapel a tailor.
Thomas probably worked for the SA Company and is mentioned on the Special Survey of Little Para and outstations, and as a shepherd possibly in the hills around Gumeracha near Hartley Vale, while Rebecca was at home with Thomas jnr. When the 2nd son Giles was born on 7-3-1842 and baptised at Holy Trinity church on 29-5-1842 by Colonial Chaplain Charles B Howard, his father was named as a labourer of Gilles St. When William Henry was born on 11-2-1844, and baptised on 29-2-1844 by J Farrell MA, at Holy Trinity, father was called a shepherd. Mary Rush registered the birth of 4th son John born on 10-3-1846 but he was not baptised at Holy Trinity. It is likely that the family moved from Gilles St to somewhere in the Adelaide District (?Walkervi11e).
An obituary in "The Register" of 3-12-1896 under "Yongala. Death of Old Colonist" said that Thorn."...was employed by the govenment to cart goods from Adelaide to the Murray, and for some time as a soldier to protect settlers from the natives who were then troublesome along the Murray. He is said to have farmed for a few years at Barossa, and to have carted from the Burra mine to Port Adelaide.
They could have lived at Walkerville or at Lyndoch in the Little Para-Barossa area between 1846 and 1853 as John was born on 10-3-1846 in the Adelaide District but not baptised at Holy Trinity, Charles born on 1-6-1847 was registered in the Barossa District, and Joseph was born on 2-5-1849 place unknown, although Samuel was said to have been born at Gumeracha on 4-2-1851, possibly when Thomas worked for Dr Browne at Lyndoch.
John and Elizabeth (nee Tubb) Miller's children baptised were:
- 20- 4- 1805 Hannah wed 18-11-1824 Joseph Holder
- 18-11 - 1867 Joseph wed 27- 7-1828 Marianne Bonnett
- 20- 2- 1811 Harriett
- 23.4.1813 Sarah
- 17-12- 1815 Charles Dixon
- 24.5.1818 Ann
- 13- 8- 1820 Thomas wed 21-1-1839 Rebecca Taylor.
- 19.1.1823 Henry
- 20- 2- 1825 Elizabeth?
- 15- 4- 1827 Mary
- 7- 6- 1829 Giles.
At the time that Thomas and Rebecca were married lands in southern England were being enclosed and many labourers were unemployed, and many people were being forced to steal to save alive. It is likely that the young couple saw some hope of coming to South Australia with hope of survival and perhaps of taking up their own land. Others less fortunate were transported by Her Majesty's Government.
Hungerford in Berkshire:
Hungerford in Berkshire is about 50 miles from London on the A4 via Reading and Newbury. Lambourne is a town about 12 miles NW of Newbury and the photo of Joseph Miller by Hawkes of High St, Hungerford, which has on the back signposts to Lambourne and Hunger ford, was probably at Great Shefford junction.
The town created about a century after the Domesday survey of 1170. In 1366 John of Gaunt granted 'rights' to people and received a licence to the Manor, dying on 13-2-1399 and left it to his son Henry who became Henry IV. On 7-1-1426 Sir Walter Hungerford was one of the executors of the will of Henry V, and was summoned to parliament as Lord Hungerford. The town and Borough, originally part of the Royal Manor of Kintbury an ancient demesne of the Crown, were included in a grant of the Manor to Sir Walter Lord Hungerford. On 27 May 1612, John Lucas purchased all the rights of the borough and manor of Hungerford. In St Lawrence Church, built in 1811 Gothic style of the day, there is a little bell by William Taylor of Oxford from 1847. (There is also a coastal hamlet in NW Somerset 3 miles SW of Watchet, in the Parish of Old Cleeve)
In the Register of Emigrant labourers applying for free passage, through agent James Chant, No. 7028 on 13th Feb 1840, was Thomas Miller an agricultural labourer and shepherd, Anglican/Methodist of Hungerford. His embarkation number was 4430 and he was 21, his wife 22, with a male child of 3 months and possibly a female child under 2 years. No doubt the boy was Thomas jnr, born 29-11-1839 and baptised at Hungerford on 16-2-1840, but no trace is found of the girl who may have died during the passage. They sailed on the SS "Fairlie" on 3rd April and arrived at Holdfast Bay, Glenelg, (or at Pt. Adelaide) on 7th Ju1y 1840 after a fairly rapid voyage.
Thomas and Rebecca Miller:
Thomas and Rebecca Miller, founder of the Mintaro Mansion Miller family in South Australia, were among the 266 migrants and 12 cabin passengers who embarked on the SS "Fairlie" and left London on 3rd April 1840.
Rebecca Taylor, daughter of Samuel, was born in 1818-9, and had on 21-1-1839 at the Parish Church at Hungerford in the County of Berkshire-Wiltshire according to Anglican rites married Thomas Miller, son of John and Elizabeth (nee Tubb) Miller, born 19-7-1819. The fathers and the couple gave their occupations as labourers and at the time residing at Hungerford. Witnesses were Joseph Miller- his eldest brother and Caroline Grover probably a friend of Rebecca.
Nothing has been found of Taylors at Hungerford and they may have come from elsewhere, perhaps Somerset as report has it that Thomas Miller junior was born in Somerset, although he was baptised at Hungerford on 16-2-1840.
Thomas can be traced back to:
- William Miller, baptised c1690, wed c1716 Ann who was Baptised c1685,
- Matthew 14- 7-1717
- Ann 21-9-1718
- Elizabeth 13- 3-1721
- Mary 9- 8-1723
- William 26- 4-1725
- William jnr.C.Baptd. 26- 4-1725 wed c 1752 Sarah...
- John Baptd. 21-10-1757, labourer, lived at Cow Lane, Church Lane and Moon Lane. Hungerford. wed 10-10-1804 Elizabeth Tubb Baptd. 28-6-1786.
- 7th child Thomas Baptised by Revd Wm Cookson on 13-8-1820 although born on 19-7-1819.
Elizabeth Tubb can be traced back to William Tubb b c1650, wed 9-10-1680 Hester Humphries at Shrivenham
son William Cd. 31- 1-1715 Hungerford. wed Sarah
son George Cd 25-12-1759 wed 27-12-1783 Mary Dubber.
- 21- 1-1785 Charles lbr Smitham Bridge wed Eliz. Eqerton
- daughter Jane 7-2-1814
- 28- 6-1783 Elizabeth wed 21-10-57 John MILLER
- 5- 1-1791 Sarah
- 21-10-1792 Mary
- 9- 6-1793 Hannah
- 10- 4 1796 Martha,
- 7-12-1804 Mary?
- 7-12-1804 Ann?
Mintaro Teamster - Farmer
Thomas was named as a teamster when George was born on 22-12-1853. Jim Whimpress, a grandson, said that at the end of Thomas's commission with the police (or army) Thomas moved north as a carter -from Burra to the coast starting with a team of 4 bullocks and a wagon. The Burra Copper Mines were flourishing and the ore was taken down to Pt. Adelaide, on the return journey carting stores and provisions for the miners and others. When Spanish muleteers are said to have used Mintaro (Spanish for resting place?) as a stopping place while carting ore from Burra to Pt Adelaide and later Pt Wakefield. Mules are said to have arrived in July 1853, brought by South American drivers from Montevideo for the Patent Copper Smelting Company, although a rough passage reduced animals landed from the 180 shipped to 70. In the ore carrying days there was a dray every half mile along the Burra - Pt Adelaide track.
The land at Mintaro was offered for purchase and Thomas could have come to Mintaro about 1850, as he is said to have owned an allotment in Mintaro on 10-8-1851 , the township being advertised for sale from 7-3-1849, and the Hundred of Stanley in which it is situated was proclaimed on 7-8-1851. He was one of the original settlers in Mintaro as by 10-8-1851 (?) a Thomas Miller owned an allotment and the family presence was affirmed at Mintaro by George's birth there on 22-12-1853.
Thomas bought several sections both in the hills and the township area. Of the two streams that almost surround the township, the one from Millers Hills will be called Mintaro Creek (the other from Mt Horrocks). The hills were named after Thomas and Rebecca Miller who at one time lived in a. small cottage (later called Swarms) at the foot of the hills. Jim Whimpress commented that Thomas's farm lands were unprofitable, either being too small, or seasons or prices being poor, so that some lands had to be sold to pay off mortgages on others. The town home was retained and from Mintaro over the years holiday visits were made to several children especially to Charles and Thomas at Yongala. This town house is still in 1938 referred to in Mintaro as "Miller's Mansion".
In 1853 Dr Browne, who may have been Thomas Miller's former-employer and who on 27-6-1853 offered one acre of land for a chapel at Mintaro and Lot No 8 was accepted. On 5th and 6th Nov 1854 at the opening of the Mintaro Wesleyan Methodist Church, Dr. Brown was Chairman of the Monday Public Meeting. (See 3 photos of churches 100a, also in Ridgway pp 93-118 re churches) Dr. Browne (W.J. or J.H.) c1845 sold part of a holding to Edmund Bowman. Both although medical men did not practise but were involved in agricu1tural and pastoral fields. Wm James Browne (b.1815 Wiltshire.d. 4-12-1894 Eastborne, Devon ) arrived on "Buckinghamshire" Dec 1838.Departed 1889. He wed Mary Nixon in 1850 and children were Leonard Gilbert, Wm Byron, Percival John, Arthur Scott etc? John Harris Browne , b. 22-4-1817 , Ilford . d.12-1-1904 Bath, Somerset, arrived SA 1840, wed 23-12-1857 Kooringa, lived at Adelaide, Buckland Pk , Canowie etc. Children Thomas Landsdowne , daughters b. 1863 and 1864 . (Ridgway 26,72.)
Four Potter brothers killed in World War I:
Greg Miller from Australia emailed the Virtual Museum (Apr 2016) with interesting information about some relatives of the Miller family. It was published on-line in the Flinders News. As Greg said: "As we celebrate ANZAC day and Gallipoli, research turns up interesting stories. The story is about “Saving Private Potter” a real life story . The Potter boy’s mother was Eliza Miller whose father Thomas was from Hungerford (I believe)."
The newspaper article said:
"On September 5 it will be 98 years since three of four brothers from Yongala lost their lives during a single battle after being sent to fight in France during World War I.
The extraordinary tale of the Potter brothers was uncovered by Yongala historians Dennis and Pam Parker, who have spent more than 16 years of their life researching something most people would find somewhat depressing: the cemeteries of the Mid North.
To date they have produced an impressive seven volumes on local cemetery history, including the Yongala, Dawsone, Lancelot, Nackara, Oodla Wirra, Hallett, Terowie and Whyte Yarcowie cemeteries.
The Parkers have spent significant amounts of their own time and money researching burials, finding burial plots and learning about the lives of every single person interred in the different cemeteries.
They are currently working on researching seven cemeteries in the Orroroo-Carrieton council district.
Their research has meant many days spent cooped up in libraries, searching births, deaths and marriages records and poring over old newspaper articles to find as much history about the different cemeteries and the people buried therein as possible.
Each book also contains a section on war history, which recognises those from the various towns who lost their lives during all different conflicts.
They self-publish their books, which are all A4 size and hundreds of pages thick.
They stumbled upon the astonishing story of the four Potter brothers from Yongala when researching the Yongala cemetery.
Dennis said the story was vaguely known in the districts, but there was not much preservation of such history.
He and Pam took it upon themselves to research the story of the four brothers more after making contact with Ian Lymburn, a relative of the brothers’.
Together, Pam, Dennis and Ian researched more into the tragic tale of these four brothers all sent to fight in World War I, but only one came home to their mother.
A working family:
Benjamin Potter and Eliza Miller married in the home of Eliza’s parents in the Hundred of Mannanarie, near Yongala, in 1881.
There were eight children to the marriage, all born in the Hundred of Yongala.
The Potter family home was situated at Farraville, a suburban area adjacent to the small rural township of Yongala; the home is still lived in today.
Having done their schooling at Yongala, the Potter sons followed their father’s building tradition, taking up the trades of stonemasonry, plastering and carpentry.
The Potter name is associated with many homes and buildings over a very wide surrounding area.
For King and country
Shortly after the outbreak of WWI four of the six Potter brothers enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on, or very close to, the same day.
On November 13, 1915, the Yongala Cheer-up Society rendered a social in the Yongala Institute, attended by a very large crowd, to farewell the four Potter boys who were leaving for the front.
The residents of town and district presented a wristlet watch each to Privates Wilf E and Hurtle FC Potter, a pipe and tobacco pouch to Private Thomas JA Potter and a pair of military brushes to Private Ralph V Potter.
Each soldier was also presented with a parcel containing knitted articles.
The four brothers were taken on strength as members of the AIF’s 12th Battalion and, joining troops taken on board in Tasmania, embarked from Port Adelaide on December 2 aboard the P&O Royal Mail Steamer troop ship Malwa, and after taking on a further contingent from Western Australia they were landed in Egypt for training.
On March 1, 1916, at Tel el Kebir in Egypt, the AIF’s 52nd Battalion was raised, consisting of veterans of the 12th and the newly arrived 12th reinforcements from Australia.
It then became a Battalion of the 13th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division, of 1 Anzac Corps, under British command.
The Battle of Mouquet Farm
After arriving in France on June 11, 1916 direct from Egypt and having missed the earlier fighting in the battle of August 13-15 because they were given a support role, the 52nd engaged in its first major battle at Mouquet Farm, an important and bloodied element of the Battle of the Somme, on September 3.
Mouquet Farm was 1.1 miles north-west of the high ground near Pozieres.
Following the fighting that had occurred around the village earlier in the year, the British decided to gain control of the ridge beyond the village in order to create a gap in the German lines.
The British hoped capturing Mouquet Farm would destabilise the German position and enable subsequent gains.
During the battle, the three Australian divisions of 1 Anzac Corps advanced north-west along the Pozieres ridge towards the German strongpoint, with British divisions supporting on the left.
The approach to the farm, however, was under observation from German artillery spotters who were able to call down barrages on the attackers from three sides of the salient that had developed in the lines.
These intense barrages resulted in heavy casualties amongst the attackers before they even reached the farm, however, over the course of August and into September, the Australian divisions managed to reach the farm three times, only to be forced back each time.
In the second attack of Sept 3-5 the 52nd Battalion had a key assaulting role and suffered heavy casualties, 50 per cent of its fighting strength.
1 Anzac Corps suffered some 6300 casualties and was so depleted they had to be taken off the front for two months.
As that battle dragged on, the Canadian Corps took over from the Australians, who were withdrawn on September 5.
The Canadians captured the farm on September 16 but were pushed out by a counter-attack and by the time the battle concluded in mid-September, the German garrison still held out in part of the farm.
The farm was eventually captured on September 26.
During those violent and fateful three days of the battle for Mouquet Farm, three of the Potter brothers from Yongala were killed in action – Thomas, Wilf and Hurtle – and the fourth wounded.
Names remembered in France
Having enlisted on September 4, 1915 then embarked on December 2, the Potter boys entered their first battle as members of the 52nd Battalion on September 3, 1916 and became casualties within two days, a bare eight months after their embarkation.
Any training they undertook would have been short and less than adequate for the environment into which they would be thrown, but no level of training could have prepared the 52nd for the unbelievably hostile and soul-shattering environment they were ordered to enter.
Of the three boys killed in action only Private Hurtle Potter was interred and awarded a memorial stone in Courcelette British Cemetery, Somme, France.
Privates Thomas and Wilf Potter are named on the section of the memorial walls dedicated to the 52nd Infantry Battalion of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.
Their bodies were not recovered from the battle field, though searches continue for all Australian personnel missing in action.
Corporal Potter comes home
On November 22, 1917 a large crowd gathered at the Yongala railway station to welcome home Corporal Ralph Potter, who was invalided home after being wounded in the same action that saw the sacrifice of his three brothers, one of which Corporal Potter witnessed and was subsequently asked to provide official confirmation.
The names of all four brothers are immortalised on Yongala and district honour rolls, as are all those from the district who served their country in WWI and WWII.
A grieving mother dies
The mother of the four boys, Eliza Potter, died on December 20, 1917 aged 57 years.
General regret was felt at the death of Mrs Potter, wife of Mr B Potter, in Jamestown Hospital after having been admitted a few hours before.
Two of the sons were reported as missing for some months, but when Mrs Potter eventually received the news that they had been killed in action at about the same time as the other son, she rejoiced in the thought that they were not separated from each other, but had gone home together.
Though not enjoying good health It was believed that the grief of losing three sons and the fourth badly wounded had contributed to the death of Mrs Potter.
She was interred in the Yongala cemetery, where she shared a headstone with her sister.
Her husband, Benjamin Potter, father of the four boys, died in hospital in Adelaide in 1934 aged 76 years and was buried in the Cheltenham cemetery.
A new rule for the Australian military
Ralph, the son who returned, married Grace Turner in 1926; he died at Howard, Queensland in 1961 age 69 and was buried in Maryborough cemetery in Queensland.
It is because of this particular tragedy that befell the Potter family in Sept 1916, three deaths and one wounded within a period of three days, that Australian armed forces very quickly took steps to avoid placing close family members in the same unit and/or action.
How scattered and lonely can this family be, their resting places being so distantly scattered?
Possibly the Potter boys saw their enlistment as an adventure, as many young men did, but there must have been an element of national honour and a belief that dictators, oppressors and destructive wars should not be allowed to flourish.
This prompts the question: was the bloody sacrifice of so many from a generation of Australian youth in vain?
They shall grow not old.
[With thanks to Greg Miller]
- Full document about Millers in Hungerford and Australia (as pdf) (by Rev R J Miller)