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First World War centenary: Tale of man who lay injured in No Man’s Land for two days to be told in new Havering exhibition

Georgina Hughes with her father's medals Georgina Hughes with her father's medals

Saturday, July 26, 2014
9:00 AM

The tale of a man who lay ­severely injured in no man’s land for two days after ­being caught up in a bomb blast is one of many local stories that will be told at a new ­exhibition.

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First World War summer events

July 30: Community musical Paper Planes, about pilot William Leefe Robinson, opens at Queen’s Theatre

August 2 & 3: Annual Military and Flying Machines show at Damyns Hall Aerodrome, Upminster, will include aircraft from the First World War for the first time

August 3: Service to commemorate Maori soldiers and the 211 Hornchurch men who died in the war. To be held outside St Andrew’s Church, Hornchurch, 11am

August 4: A multi-faith civic service at St Edward’s Church, Romford, led by Father David Anderson and Rabbi Lee Sunderland to mark the day Britain declared war on Germany

August 4: An exhibition looking at the stories of the men on the Collier Row War Memorial, which will conclude with a service at the Church of the Ascension, Collier Row

From August: Rainham Library exhibition dedicated to the town’s soldiers with information from residents

August 21: Talk at Rainham Library by Ian Porter about the contribution of women during the conflict

The experiences of Atheling Miller are revealed in Home Front Havering: Local Life in the First World War, which launches at Havering Museum on August 9.

Staff were made aware of his story after his daughter, Georgina Hughes, a volunteer at the attraction, came forward with his medals, papers and photographs.

L-Cpl Miller, born in 1898, served in the 23rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, known as the 1st Sportsman’s Battalion.

He trained at Grey Towers mansion in Hornchurch, where a camp was established.

Atheling Miller in hospital after he was injured in a bomb blast (third bed on the left). [Picture: Havering Museum]Atheling Miller in hospital after he was injured in a bomb blast (third bed on the left). [Picture: Havering Museum]

The battalion, made up of professional sportsmen as well as members of the clergy and those from artistic occupations, lived at the camp from November 1914 to June 1915.

L-Cpl Miller played football for the youth teams of Ilford Wanderers, West Ham and Southend Boys as a goalkeeper.

Upon leaving Hornchurch, he was sent to France, where he manned a Lewis gun. He ­escaped serious injury until near the end of the war, when his trench was blown up and he was flung into no man’s land.

He lay there severely injured for two days until a medic managed to reach him, carried him behind the lines to hospital and he was invalided home.

The soldiers having dinner in one of the huts. [Picture: Havering Museum]The soldiers having dinner in one of the huts. [Picture: Havering Museum]

Although he suffered from his injuries his whole life and still had shrapnel working out of his legs in old age, he went on to become a successful footballer and cricketer after the war.

He played for Loxford as a slow left hand bowler until his early forties. He died in 1970.

Georgina said: “I am very proud that my father’s artefacts from the First World War are ­being exhibited at Havering Museum. My father, like so many others, showed great courage and strength of character at such a young age and was a true hero.

“He never really spoke much about the war and the traumatic experiences he must have suffered, but I believe he carried emotional scars inside him throughout his life. He was a proud but modest man who, like many, was a brave hero in the eyes and hearts of his family.”

The soldiers at Grey Towers in summer 1915. Atheling Miller is in the middle row's centre. [Picture: Havering Museum]The soldiers at Grey Towers in summer 1915. Atheling Miller is in the middle row's centre. [Picture: Havering Museum]

The exhibition, a joint effort by Havering Museum and ­Havering Libraries Local Studies, will run at both sites until November 15. It is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information, email exhibitions@haveringmuseum.org.uk or call 01708 766571.

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