Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Ration Book found in a Collector's Emporium and the Search for Cecil Ralph Miller.

On a recent trip overseas, my daughter, Siobhan, kindly visited the birthplaces of my Swiss ancestors, Häberlings and Rysers, who I have traced back to the 1400's in Ottenbach, Zurich and in Bern. After seeing the places where her ancestors had lived and immediately being bitten by the genealogy 'bug', my 25 year old daughter continued on, in search of addresses of other ancestors, in other places in Europe and especially in London where she spent a month staying with family and friends.

Knowing that I enjoy collecting old photographs, books  and journals, Siobhan searched for a suitable  gift of this kind, to bring home for me. In Church Street, Marylebone, she chanced upon Alfies Antique Hall, where she found the perfect present for me at Tin Tin Collectables. 
In the collectables store, while rummaging through a box of miscellaneous papers, a yellowed Ministry of Food Ration Book dated 1953-1954 and bearing the name Miller, (Cecil Ralph), caught my daughter's eye. Delving deeper into the box, Siobhan discovered six other documents relating to Cecil Ralph Miller.. The owner of Tin Tin Collectables was most interested in what the documents were and together he and Siobhan unfolded the old pieces of paper which had once belonged to Cecil Ralph Miller.  My daughter knew at once that I would consider this 'find' a treasure trove and made the purchase, although the store owner was somewhat intrigued as to why this young woman was interested in a Ration Book and other papers related to a man she had never heard of.. As my daughter chatted to the proprietor of Tin Tin Collectables, she explained that her mother enjoys collecting photographs and memorabilia and re-uniting them with their rightful owners. She was certain that I would be enthusiastic to research the life of Cecil Ralph Miller and felt sure that I would want to try to trace descendants of this man who's documents had ended up for sale in the Marylebone Antique Centre. The store owner gave my daughter a card with his name on it and extracted a promise from her that she would let him know whatever I found out about Cecil Ralph Miller. 

The Ration Book which led my daughter to find other documents hidden in a box.

Inside Cecil Ralph Miller's Ration Book

 I was thrilled with my gift and as soon as my daughter returned to Australia with the little parcel of interesting documents which had belonged to Cecil Ralph Miller, I set to work to locate all that I could about him. After a quick search for Cecil Ralph Miller born in 1917 (date of birth on his Identity Card) on and finding quite a number of Cecil Millers born in and around that year ( and finding no family tree bearing the name Cecil Ralph Miller), I decided to begin my search with the actual documents themselves as evidence of Cecil's life.  There is something special and exciting about using original documents as a source of evidence although inevitably I resorted to the Internet for additional information. 

One of the folded papers with the Ration Book was a Military Identity Card stamped with the date 17 February, 1942. This card, bearing a photograph of Cecil Miller showed that he had been a Captain Adjutant with the 2/7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1942. Cecil's place of birth was given as Hove and date of birth as 1917. Here was a wealth of information already, with which to begin my search. Looking at the charming photograph of the handsome young man in his Army uniform, made me more determined to find out who Cecil Ralph Miller was and whether he had any descendants who might like to have these special mementos of his life.

Curious to know more about Cecil Ralph Miller's military career,  I googled 'Cecil Ralph Miller Royal Warwickshire Regiment' and immediately was greeted with a result, pictured below, which included another photograph of Cecil.

On the above website,    I discovered an outline of Cecil's army career, beginning with his role as 2nd Lt. as a Cadet with the Harrow School Junior Division Training Corps in 1936. Cecil would have been aged 17 at this time. Harrow School was situated in Middlesex, London. On the 27th of May, 1939, Cecil Miller was commissioned to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment - Territorial Army (Battalion). He was mobilized on the 24th of August in the same year and transferred to the Parachute Regiment in the Army Air Corps on 27th of January, 1943. According to this website dedicated to the army careers of Airborn Officers, in 1944, Cecil was a general Staff Officer, Third grade (GSO3) (Air) with the First Parachute Brigade (Arnhem).  Cecil Miller attained the rank of Captain Territorial Army, on the 1.5.1947 and A/Major on 23/4/ 1949. The timeline of Cecil Ralph Miller's military career continued until 1955 when he appears as an Officer with the Territorial Army Reserve.

Another document belonging to Cecil Ralph Miller was an Army Form, numbered E.524, and  entitled Territorial Badge, which shows Cecil to have been a Captain ( Badge number 153247) with the 18th Bn.(Warrick) The Parachute Regiment. Through a Google search  I learned that the 18th Battalion was an Airborne Infantry Battalion of the Parachute Regiment which was raised by the British Army during World War 11. 

Two other cards which accompanied the Ration Book gave addresses for Cecil. A National Registration Card gave Cecil's address as Prickets Hatch, Nutley, Uckfield, and his National Health and Pensions Assurance Member Record Card (1942-1947) stated that Mr. C.R. Miller lived at Shrewsbury Villa, Rugby Rd. Newbold on Avon. Rugby. 

A google search revealed Prickets Hatch, Nutley, Uckfield to be in East Sussex, and Prickets Hatch is shown on the 1875 Ordinance map below. I discovered in addition to the map, a Manorial record of ownership by deed of Prickets Hatch, dating from 1561 to the 1800's showing it to be originally farming land. Curious to know more about Prickets Hatch during the war years, when Cecil may have lived there, I googled  'Prickets Hatch, Nutley,1939'. This search led me to a fascinating story called  'Nutley at War 1939-1945' written by Mollie Smith. (  )  This a wonderfully descriptive account of Nutley during the war and amongst the illustrations, I immediately recognised the picture of a Ration Card and other documents similar to those found with Cecil Ralph Miller's Ration Card. The story outlines in detail the significant part that the people of Nutley played in WW11, which included the Women's Land Army and the Evacuees who spent the war years in Nutley. Mollie Smith's story gave a moving and detailed account of the wartime experiences of the families of this district. Most significantly, in Mollie Smith's story, the surname Miller was mentioned in the form of a Colonel G.R. Miller. I felt at once that I was on the right trail in my search for Cecil Miller.

Prickets Hatch is located near the bottom centre of the above map. 

 A Google search for Shrewsbury Villa, Newbold Rd, Avon, surprised me by showing me the actual home that was Cecil's address in the 1940's, according to his National Health and Pensions Assurance Member Card (the house pictured  below). 

Shrewsbury Villa, Newbold Rd, Avon, Rugby.

Cecil Ralph Miller's Health and Pension Card
Cecil Miller's National Registration Card bearing an address

The most exciting find inside the Ration book which had belonged to Cecil Miller was the piece of faded blue paper that I unfolded last. To my surprise, I found that I had the cremation certificate for a man named George Ralph Miller who died on the 13th of September, 1948, at Prickets Hatch, Nutley, aged 74 years. The certificate had been issued by The Downs Crematorium, Brighton. The age of George Miller at his death placed his birth at approximately 1874. I wondered if George Ralph Miller could be Cecil's father? In Mollie Smith's story 'Nutley at War 1939-1945' a Colonel G.R. Miller had been mentioned. Could this be George Ralph Miller? My search was becoming increasingly more exciting as names and places matched the documents found by my daughter in the Marylebone Antique Centre, in Tin Tin Collectables.

The Cremation Certificate of George Ralph Miller

A search on showed the death registration in 1948 of a George Ralph Miller, born about 1874, his death registered at Uckfield, Sussex (Vol 5h, page 363). As Uckfield was the address given for Cecil Ralph Miller on his National Registration card, I was sure that George and Cecil were somehow related. I was ready to find Cecil Ralph Miller's ancestry.

As the Birth registrations for England on are from 1837 to 1915, I was unable to search for the 1917 birth of Cecil Ralph Miller. yielded no results for a search for Cecil or George Miller. When I searched for a marriage for George Ralph Miller I found three marriages registered in 1916, one in Lancashire, another in county Durham and the third marriage registered in Middlesex. Since Cecil attended Harrow School in Middlesex, the most likely marriage for his parents was a marriage registered on the 15 February 1916 in Kensington and Chelsea.

George Ralph Miller had married Violet Mary Teschemaker, daughter of William Henry Teschemaker.  The name of George Ralph Miller's father was given as Henry Miller. I decided to Google George Ralph Miller and Violet Mary Teschemaker to see what, if anything I could find out about this couple. To my surprise, the first hit was where I discovered George Ralph Miller (entry #512973) with wife Violet Mary Teschemaker and children Cecil Ralph Miller born 13th November, 1917 and Anthony John Miller born 21st May, 1920. This Cecil Ralph Miller was a decorated Major in the Territorial Army. There was little doubt that I had found my Cecil Ralph Miller and most interestingly, it appeared that he descended from peerage. Using my subscription to the Burke's Peerage and Gentry website, I conducted a search for the Lineage of George Ralph Miller and verified that Cecil Ralph Miller descended from the Millers of Chichester, the first Baronetcy being created 29 October 1705, in the person of Sir Thomas Miller.

Miller Crest


         Mark Miller, Alderman

  1. Sir Thomas Miller, 1st Baronet (Title [UK Life Peerage] created 1705)
  2. Sir John Miller, 2nd Baronet
  3. Sir Thomas Miller, 3rd Baronet
  4. Sir John Miller, 4th Baronet
  5. Sir Thomas Miller, 5th Baronet
  6. Sir Rev Thomas Combe Miller 6th Baronet  (The Title continued through the eldest sons of the Miller of Chichester family and currently resides in New Zealand. )
       John Henry Miller, born 9 September, 1830, married Jessie Orbell, had son,
       George Ralph Miller born  23 December, 1874, married Violet Mary Teschemaker, had son
       Cecil Ralph Miller, born 13 November, 1917.

Cecil's father, George Ralph Miller was born 23 December, 1874, the son of Henry John Miller  and Jessie Orbell. He was a Lieutenant-Colonel RA, Boer-1901 and WW1. He was decorated with the Companion, Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1919.

According to, Cecil Ralph Miller married Marie Sumner (of Edinburgh), daughter of Major Stephen Sumner in 1981.

It would appear that Cecil Miller married late in life and had no issue. I have traced Miller relatives in Australia and New Zealand and will hopefully re-unite them with the documents which belonged to Cecil Ralph Miller. Perhaps someone related to Cecil will read this blog and contact me. I would love to see Cecil Ralph Miller's personal and military papers go to a member of the Miller family.

As a fitting end to my journey in the search for Cecil, which began with an accidental find in an Antique Hall in Marylebone, London, I googled Cecil one last time. I found the obituary shown below.

MILLER, Cecil, Ralph, (Edinburgh) Died peacefully, on February 19, 2011, aged 93 years, devoted husband of the late Marie and much loved uncle, step- father and step- grandfather........

Obituary of Cecil Ralph Miller

I would like to thank my daughter, Siobhan, for her thoughtful gift, which inspired me to search for Cecil Ralph Miller. The research was well rewarded and the journey most interesting. Cecil Ralph Miller died in February this year in Scotland. My daughter found his personal documents in October, in an Antique Hall in Marylebone, London and brought them to Sydney, Australia. The Miller family member who holds the current Baronetcy, from which Cecil Ralph Miller descends, resides in New Zealand. Cecil Ralph Miller's documents have travelled a great distance but perhaps now, they are on their way home.


  1. Such a thoughtful present - you are such a committed and thorough detective.

    Thank you for sharing Cecil's story - I thoroughly enjoyed reading the report of your research.

    Co-incidentally we called on some people in Nutley, a pleasant little village, in August this year - they are presently holidaying in Beecroft!

  2. I wonder if they knew the Miller family Jill... isn't life just filled with co-incidences!