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Miller, George Sefton

George Sefton Miller entered Guy’s in October, 1907, from the Colfe Grammar School, having passed the Senior Cambridge Local in December, 1906. In 1910 he passed the 2nd M.B. Lond. and the 1st F.R.C.S., and in the same year gained the Junior Proficiency Prize and the Sands-Cox Scholarship in Physiology. Entering the wards, he dressed to Mr. Steward and Mr. Dunn, was Clinical to Dr. Hale White and Dr. Pitt, Assistant House-Surgeon to Mr. Rowlands, and finally House-Surgeon to Sir Arbuthnot Lane from August, 1913, to January 1914. After this he acted as Resident Medical Officer at Lambeth Infirmary for 15 months and attended Guy’s weekly as Chief Clinical Assistant in the Throat Department, and during this time worked for and passed the Final F.R.C.S. (December 1914); as he was then only in his 24th year he could not get this Diploma which was granted him as recently as May, 1916. 

In spite of doing so much work during the six and a quarter years he spent at Guy’s, and attaining so brilliant an examination record, he managed to find time for other interests, and while in the Dissecting Room was one of the chief lights in the Physiological Society, while later he constantly spoke before the Debating Society; where we chiefly remember his delight in a whimsical defiant attitude on the unpopular side; for some time he served on the Gazette Committee.

A satirical vein ran through and sharpened his sense of humour, as when he wrote of his Military duties in a certain place as consisting of waiting in a room all morning in case orders might arrive, and then being let off to amuse himself in a town where there was nothing to do!
Miller stayed in London until he had passed the Final Fellowship, for he had gone to Lambeth with the object of having time to work for this examination while increasing his clinical experience, and in April, 1915, took a Commission in the R.A.M.C., and was promoted Captain a few months before his death.

On joining the R.A.M.C. he was for a short time attached to the Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot, and then, after acting temporarily as a regimental M.O., was detailed to the No. 1 Field Ambulance, and remained with it till his death, which occurred at High Wood; he was buried near Mametz.

It was the writer’s privilege to know Miller both as a junior and senior student; as a House-Surgeon his characteristic qualities were a keen interest in his work and a thorough spirit of enquiry into the nature of his patients’ maladies. Being only 22 at this time he naturally lacked some of his advantages which more mature years give to a man in such positions, but Miller had confidence in himself and this with his reserved manner went far to make his patients have confidence in him. He had done so well in his career at Guy’s and has so abundantly during the clinical period fulfilled the promise of his early years that the future must have held many good things for him. He had the capacity of making and keeping a few good friends but not of knowing a large number of acquaintances, yet when he came to the Residents’ table he was found to hide behind a shy reserved manner a cheery spirit, and he enjoyed a rubber of bridge or a game of poker with as much zest as he put into the more serious affairs of life.

His father writes that his affection for Guy’s and Guy’s men was particularly marked, and that he had often thanked him for sending him to us; this will help us to bear his loss, and on our side we are sure that, as the following correspondence shows, the reputation of Guy’s was quite safe in is hands, for in his life he acted up to what he felt.

The following account has been received from a brother officer of the circumstances in which Captain G. S. Miller met his death:- “He was in charge of a large party of stretcher bearers at the time, and as it happens I was under his command. A local attack was taking place which, of course, attracted very fierce retaliation on the part of the enemy artillery.

 Long before the enemy bombardment had abated he expressed his intention of taking two squads of stretcher bearers up to the regimental aid posts to bring down any wounded men he could find. At about 9 p.m. on the 8th September he started out with these eight men from our little post about a quarter of a mile behind the fire trenches, and he must have been killed about a quarter to ten.
The regimental aid post was situated practically in the front line trench, and was subsequently blown in by enemy shell fire. While he was on his way back he was helping a stretcher bearer to lift a wounded man out of a trench into the open when a shell came which killed him, also the patient and the stretcher bearer. Death appears to have been instantaneous. As soon as the news came of his death, a staff sergeant and a sergeant went out and brought him in and sent word to me that he had been killed. When he was brought in he had a smile on his face, so we think he can have felt no pain. No words can express to you the inferno of shells and bullets into which he went in the discharge of his duty. He was one of the bravest men I have ever met, and he was extremely popular with both officers and men, and we are all very grieved about his death. He was brilliantly successful in his work, a splendid officer and a charming friend. I hope I have made it clear to you that he died a most noble death in the fearless execution of his duty.”

Another officer writes:- “He was a good officer, a brave man and a warm-hearted friend. On the last occasion on which I saw him he had ridden some ten miles to see if he could do anything for me. His courage was such that he had made personal application to be transferred to the most exposed position that an M.O. can obtain, that of Regimental M.O., so soon as he realised that his own post was comparatively safe.”

Sept. 10th, 1916
Dear Mr. Miller, - I am writing to express the very deep regret we all in No. 1 Field Ambulance feel at the death of your son, George, who was killed in action on the night of the 8th inst. I know you will be consoled somewhat in knowing that your son gave his life in an effort to save others, at a time when he was assisting and encouraging stretcher squads in a very heavily shelled area. He could not have died a nobler death. We all feel we have lost a very great friend, and I know I have lost a most valuable officer whose professional knowledge and general administrative power it will be difficult to replace. I know Captain Donald and the Reverend Courchier are writing to Mrs. Miller. George is buried near the village of Mametz. He was killed in a trench near to High Wood. My sincerest sympathy to you and your family.
Yours very sincerely,
T. J. WRIGHT
Lt.-Col., R.A.M.C.

Biographical

Surname(s)Miller
First name(s)George Sefton
Date of birth1891
Place of birthLewisham Registration District
Family detailsSon of Dr. Leonard Miller,(vice-chairman of the Miller General Hospital for South-East London, Greenwich) of Green Bank, Park Gardens, Bath, and the late Elizabeth Howarth Miller
Previous educationColfe Grammar School, Lewisham
CollegeGuy's Hospital
Dates at college1907
Dept / courseLondon M.B.
QualificationsF.R.C.S. (England), M.B., B.S. (London), M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P.
Military unitRoyal Army Medical Corps, 1st Field Amb.
War / conflictWorld War One (1914-1918)
Date of death8 September 1916
Age at death25
Rank at deathCaptain
Place of deathHigh Wood
Cause of deathKilled in action
Burial placeDantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz, Somme, France
Commemoration(s)Guy's Hospital Memorial
NotesWas promoted Captain on April 27th 1916
SourcesGuy's Hospital Medical School Records, King's College London Archives; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Soldiers Died in the Great War

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