For Those Who Serve.
A Journey Through
Keith Miller's Campaign
April 1918 -
John & Phillip
Australian Imperial Force - AIF - Private Keith Gordon Miller - Ser no. 36660 - just turned 17, joined Monash's old Division - 3rd Division - as a driver on horseback towing guns in the 108th Howitzer Battery - France March 5th, 1918. He served in the war theatre till November that year - when he was shipped from the battlefield to Oxford in 'Old Blighty' with severe influenza. A true 'digger', who's initiation to battle was to stop the Germans at Hamel and from that place take part in the offensives to the Hindenburg line.
He was a minister's son from Artarmon, Sydney and had been itching to get into the war since he was a 14-year-old. Given what Keith witnessed and experienced he was fortunate to survive. A graduate of Fort Street High School, he carried the memory of war throughout the rest of his life - 80 more years - with an eye for detail and a kind heart.
Not only did Keith record what occurred during his ride from the town of Bailleul, he re-wrote the experiences in 1920 and then again in 1967. Keith carried the Red-ensign Australian flag that backgrounds this page. On it he noted every village town and city he visited - and fought through - during his campaign. He's related to the Cantor family and his belongings were passed down to John - a cousin.
Within Keith's strongbox is a veritable treasure of memorabilia from his WW1 tour. Among the letters home and the medals was his "Scrappy notebook" that he carried in battle. Also found was a red 1920 diary that recounts details of training in England and his introduction to battle in March 1918.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 and Keith's tour of duty. Veterans returned with both physical and non-physical wounds. They struggled to find balance in their lives. Today there is a name for what was once called "Shell Shock". Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD - affects many who served and still do in the Australian military and defence agencies.
With this in mind John decided to go to France and to commemorate Keith's service and dedicate this tour and Keith's story to helping those that suffer from PTSD. He's invited a close friend and martial colleague - Phillip Legare to join him and attend the 100 year Armistice Day ceremony at the Sir John Monash Centre in Villers-Bretonneux on the 11th of the 11th.
On reading Keith's "Scrappy Notebook" and the 1920 re-write Phillip suggested that the effort may have been Keith's cathartic attempt to deal with PTSD. Phillip is a United States Marine Corps Master Sergeant - Retired - who served his country in many theatres and in different roles for 40 years. He's open about the personal impact of battle and the decisions he's made. His comment sparked the idea to offer Keith's work and service to support others affected with PTSD. In return for a donation to Soldier On the reader will be granted access to Keith's original documents - scanned. These detail Keith Miller's campaign from March 1918 - November 1918.