Len Miller

The following obituary by Bob Bryant first appeared in the December 2000 issue of the Orwell Bulletin

Photo:Len and Rose Miller

Len and Rose Miller

Leonard S Miller, who died recently aged 83 years, has best been described as one of the ‘old school’, a phrase which perhaps reflects someone who has those basic attributes of dedication, reliability, dignity and moral courage. Len had all those in full measure, and was an example to us all.

Len was born in Orwell in 1917 and was educated at the village school. He worked first at West Farm and later was employed by the Eastwood Cement Company at Barrington. In 1941 Len was conscripted into the Army and although he could have legitimately been excused by reason of the importance of his work he decided to do ‘his bit’. He joined the 5th Suffolk Regiment at Ipswich and spent most of that year undergoing initial training before being shipped with other East Anglian Regiments to the Far East, their mission being to defend Singapore. Within sixteen days of arrival in the Colony Len found himself, together with his comrades, in Changi jail as a prisoner of war of the Japanese. There followed three and a half years of living in inhuman conditions, of disease, malnutrition and beatings, mainly in association with the construction of the infamous Burma- Siam Railway.

Photo:The medals awarded to Len with the letter sent by him when he was a prisoner of war. The medals are on display in the village hall

The medals awarded to Len with the letter sent by him when he was a prisoner of war. The medals are on display in the village hall

Len never fully recovered from that experience. Six weeks in a Bangkok hospital and a further six months recuperation on his return did not remove those scars which were to remain with him for the remainder of his life. For Len the only good thing that came out of his war was meeting with Rose during initial training.

Once re-habilitated Len worked for the Atlas Cement company (now Eternit UK Ltd) at Whaddon for 37 years, initially as a machine operator, and latterly as a foreman before being forced to retire due to ill health.  After the war Len became the ‘village man’ again, looking to his garden which he so much enjoyed and taking a prominent part in a range of activities all directed toward helping people and enhancing village life. He undertook the cutting of the Churchyard grass for many years until physically he could no longer do it. He was also the caretaker of the Pavilion where he was able to assist with the Orwell football team to which he was so dedicated; come rain or shine it was invariably Len who marked out the pitch, put up the nets, and took the team shirts home for Rose to wash…. He was also Orwell’s Mr Royal British Legion, being an active member for 54 years and holding in turn the offices of Standard Bearer, Chairman and President. His long service, annual organisation of the local poppy appeal and assistance to those less fortunate members and dependents was recognised by the County in the award of a County Certificate in 1996.

Photo:Len Miller in 1995

Len Miller in 1995

It was in his earlier days that Len was given the nickname of ‘Linnet’ due to his persistent habit of whistling; a habit that continued into his later years when he could often be heard whistling hymns when walking the high Street with his golden retriever Sandy; that’s when he wasn’t smoking his pipe. In the war Len was a member of the ‘forgotten army,’ in peace within the village an unsung hero, such an independent person who took some tough knocks during his life time yet throughout retained his pride and dignity- yep one of the old school who made his mark.


This page was added by Pat Grigor on 27/11/2012.

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