Obituary: Allan Miller, decorator, 88

Allan Miller
Allan Miller
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ALLAN Miller, a painter and decorator who once lied about a fear of machinery so he could fight in the Second World War, has died, aged 88.

Mr Miller was born on August 21, 1923. One of five children, he grew up in a three-room tenement in Lindsay Road, overlooking Leith harbour. Following his ambition to be a marine engineer he started his apprenticeship with Henry Robb Shipbuilders in Leith at the age of 14, continuing his studies at night school.

At the onset of the Second World War, like many young men Mr Miller was keen to see action, but despite two appeals to the draft board he was prevented from enlisting, due to his job as marine engineer being a reserved occupation.

In 1943, however, he suffered an accident with a lathe that badly tore the muscles in his right arm. During his treatment he told the doctor of his predicament, and the latter suggested that he say he was, as a result of his accident, now afraid of machinery. On this pretence he was given a job as a ship painter, knowing it was not a reserved occupation.

That same year, he travelled to Fort George and was recruited into the Seaforth Highlanders, the unit his father had served in during the First World War.

He volunteered for a special military unit called the Lovat Scouts. Named after Lord Lovat, their role included going behind enemy lines as raiding parties and reconnaissance patrols.

Mr Miller trained at the Commando School of Mountain Warfare and, in January 1944, crossed the Atlantic to Canada to train in Arctic warfare. At that stage of the war, preparation was still under way for a possible invasion through Norway. After months of training, Mr Miller was sent to Italy.

In July 1944 they arrived in the blazing heat in Naples, and soon saw action, fighting up the mountainous backbone of Italy.

Mr Miller was wounded but remained with his unit until reaching Austria in 1945.

Mr Miller was demobbed in late 1946 and returned to Leith to finish his apprenticeship as a painter. He was later to start his own business, which he ran until his retirement.

He met his future wife Lily in 1949 at the Palais dance hall in Edinburgh.

After arranging to meet there the following week things almost went wrong when Lily saw him dancing with another girl. The girl saw Lily’s reaction and quickly explained she was his sister Nan. The couple were married in 1952 and had two children, Christine and Allan.

Mr Miller was a member of Number 5 Leith and Canongate Lodge. His efforts were recognised in 1981 when he received the medal for distinguished service.

After Lily had a stroke, Mr Miller cared for his wife for many years until being diagnosed with cancer in 2011. He passed away on December 21 at the Western General. He is survived by his wife and two children.