George William Miell.

Date of birth:                 1874Poppies
Place of birth:               Southampton
Date of marriage:        1904
Place of marriage:      Southampton
Rank:                               Fireman
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine Reserve
Battalion/Ship:            H.M.S. “Alcantara”
Died:                                 29th February 1916 aged 42 years
Death Location:          At Sea

Life before the War

William’s father was Joseph Walter who was born in 1836 and died in 1892. His mother was Sarah Ann Richards, born in 1837 Portsea Island, Hampshire and died in 1908. Joseph and Sarah married in 1858. George was the youngest of 4 sons:

Henry A b.1868 d.1930

Alfred W b.1870, married 1894, d.1933

Joseph Walter b.1871 d.1938 leaving a Probate:

“Miell Joseph Walter of 4 Dock Street Southampton died 27 November 1938 at the Borough Hospital Southampton. Administration London 19 January 1939 to Lucy Frances Miell widow. Effects £176 16s 8d”

The family were living at 3, Marine Terrace, Bevois Valley in both the 1881 and 1891 census. Joseph worked as a Carpenter and Joiner throughout his life. Harry was employed as a General Labourer. In 1891, Joseph the younger, was employed by the Ordnance Survey Office as a Draughtsman.

Joseph had married Lucy Francis Hannam in 1901 and by 1911, they, with their children, were living at 37, Hartingdon Road, Southampton. Joseph was still employed by the Ordnance Survey as a Draughtsman.

George married Laura Rebecca Houghton on 27th March 1904 at Southampton Register Office. Laura was born in 1873 in Durley, Hampshire and died in Southampton in 1955. They had children (as known at the 1911 census):

Albert Robert Houghton b.1900 (born out of wedlock), married Emily Tovell in 1936
George William b.19th August 1904, married Elsie A Murray 1929, died 1978
Reginald Joseph b.30th September 1906, married Elsie Wylde in 1933, d.1989
Harry Archibald b.23rd September 1908, married Irene E Parsons 1938, d.20th September 1951

In 1911, Laura was living at 3, Marine Terrace, Bevois Valley with her children. Also with them was her brother in law Harry who was a Ship’s Fireman. Her husband was not at home on the night of the census.

War Service


Name: George Miell
Rank: Fireman
Branch of Service: Mercantile Marine Reserve
Cause of Death: Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action
Official Number Port Division:
  1. K. (Dev)
Death Date: 29 Feb 1916
Ship or Unit: HMS Alcantara
Location of Grave: Not recorded
Name and Address of Cemetery: Body Not Recovered For Burial
Relatives Notified and Address: Widow: Laura 2 Marine Terrace Bevois Valley, Southampton 

George is Remembered with Honour on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon. The Memorial is situated centrally on The Hoe which looks directly towards Plymouth Sound.


Plymouth Naval Memorial

Plymouth Naval Memorial

“Miell, Fireman George. M.M.R. H.M.S. “Alcantara”. Killed in action with raider “Greif” in North Sea 29th Feb.,
1916. Age 42. Son of Joseph and Sarah Miell, of Southampton; husband of Laura R. Miell, of 2, Marine Terrace,
Bevois Valley, Southampton”


Historical Information – H.M.S. “Alcantara”

Captain Wardle of the “Alcantara” ordered the German vessel S.M.S. “Greif” to stop, firing 2 blank rounds at about 8.45. As they drew nearer, the “Alcantara” lowered a few boats with a boarding party to take command of what they thought was a harmless steamer. At this point the “Greif” fired upon “Alcantara” causing heavy damage and destroying their communications equipment. Further firing hit and sank some of the boarding party’s boats.

The “Alcantara” returned fire. This duelling between the two ships lasted just a few minutes. Reports state that both vessels were struck several times at or below the waterline. “Alcantara” was in a sinking state while “Greif” lowered life boats. Captain Wardle ordered his men to abandon ship and by 11.02 the “Alcantara” had sunk. Wardle and his crew were in the water for 20 minutes before being picked up. An estimated 187 Germans perished along with 72 Britons. Five officers and 120 Germans were rescued and taken prisoner by the “Andes” and “Munster”.

Wardle was later criticized for maneuvering too close to the German raider before knowing its true identity. Assuming the “Greif” was a harmless merchant ship cost Wardle his vessel and several men. Despite this he was recognized for bravery and awarded the Distinguished Service Order and eventually became a rear admiral.

Researched by Becky  Lonergan October 2013

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