Rank: Leading Seaman
Regiment: Royal Naval Reserve HMS Albion and Defensively Armed Merchant Ships SS Queensland
HMS Albion aground with HMS Canopus in foreground © IWM (Q 13807)
Lionel Miller was born in Beer on 2 January 1893. He joined the Royal Naval Reserve on 12 March 1912, and was described on his RNR record as 5ft 6¾ ins tall with brown eyes and a fair complexion.
After leaving school Lionel trained as a baker and confectioner, and worked in Wellington and Topsham.
Between September 1912 and January 1913 Lionel undertook two voyages as a messroom steward on the steamer SS Holby, one from Barry to the River Plate in South America, then to Newcastle, the other from Newcastle to Las Palmas, then to West Hartlepool. However, he then returned to fishing from Beer, and at the outbreak of war he was fishing from Beer in a boat called Flirt (E9).
Lionel was called up on 3 August 1914, and, like several other men from Beer, joined the battleship HMS Albion. As a result, he served in the Dardanelles and supported the Gallipoli landings. His RNR record states that he was a gunlayer, and was therefore responsible for aiming one of his ship’s guns.
He remained on Albion until May 1916 when, after a brief spell ashore at HMS Vivid in Plymouth, he was transferred to ‘Defensively Armed Merchant Ships’ (DAMS), beginning with the SS Queensland. He continued with this work from September 1916 until April 1919.
He was demobilised from active service on 4 April 1919, but remained in the RNR until 1937, by which time he had completed 25 years service.
Lionel died in 1969, aged 76.
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