By Riley Deleeuw and Lexi Buffalo
Courtesy of Ponoka Secondary Campus
On July 5, 1911 in Ponoka, Alberta, Mary Belton and John Frederick Miller gave birth to their son Frederick Keith Miller. He grew up to be a strong man with hazel eyes and a dark complexion, he stood 5’ 10” and weighed 164 pounds. His pioneer family owned and operated their farm near rural Ponoka, Alberta with four children; his older brother Frank, and sister Hazel, and Frederick.
Unfortunately Frederick’s mother had passed away during childbirth when he was four years old, his father eventually remarried and Frederick gained another brother by the name of Herbert Miller. The Miller family was actively involved with the United Church, and in the community.
Frederick attended school up to his Grade 11 year, until he withdrew from his studies to continue his passion of farming. He maintained the family operation for 12 years before taking up a job as an attendant at the Alberta Hospital from 1941 to 1943.
At age 31, he had sandy hair with a touch of grey and perfect eyesight. He was strong and in good health, making him a desirable applicant for the Canadian Armed Forces. It was on April 21, 1943 in Calgary, Alberta Frederick Keith Miller enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces, to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. Regimental # M-107670.
During his service in the Canadian armed forces, Private Miller became a stretcher bearer as being apart of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Light Infantry, also known as the “North Nova’s.’” In 1944, the North Nova’s were in the middle of the “Battle of the Caen” in Normandy, France.
Being a stretcher bearer Frederick’s duty consisted of being responsible for the rescue and recovery of soldiers wounded or killed in the line of action. Private Miller’s regiment fought tirelessly for weeks as they attempted to retake Authie. On July 7th the Highland Light Infantry were thrown into action. The fighting raged all day and night with air and ground attacks. It was considered one of the fiercest battles ever fought. Frederick Keith Miller was one of those soldiers that put his life on the line during this advance.
July 8th 1944 the weather was fair, and warm, with good visibility. The North Nova’s were to move forward and take Authie, and Franqueville once both Buron, and Gruchy had been captured. Upon completion of Buron, and Gruchy, the troops pushed forward to a forming up point in an orchard just south of Buron. Heavy casualties were inflicted by mortar, and artillery shell fire. Through the dedication and perseverance the North Nova’s were able to break through the enemy and take over Authie. The fighting continued onto Franquile, resulting in further casualties. Nine officers, and one-hundred ninety-two men of other rank were killed during the battle.
The victorious survivors would stand on a rise of land that overlooked the river Orne and the city itself but Privte Miller would not be one of them. Private Frederick Keith Miller was one of many who were “Killed in Action.” According to the battlefield diaries, in all likeliness he was struck by an artillery or mortar shell, which lead to his death. Frederick Keith Miller died at the age of 33 years old. He was awarded the WW2 France- Germany Defense Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. His dedication and bravery he provided to the North Nova’s expressed his patriotism to Canada. He was one of the many brave individuals who put his life on the line to defend our country. He will forever be recognized as a hero and respectable soldier. His name is listed in the “Book of Remembrance” in Ottawa, as well as engraved on a wall plaque in the Alberta Legislative Building.
During the time of his enlistment he was described as a “Clean cut, intelligent looking chap rather quiet and reserved in manner. Gives the impression of having quiet efficiency, his only restriction being reading. Maintains a good attitude to military service and should be found to be capable of a satisfactory degree of training, and cooperation in every respect. Formal qualification suggest suitability for promotion.”
Before Frederick left Alberta he was just an average farm boy who took up a lifestyle many of us carry on to this day. However the moment Private Miller stepped foot on European soil to pay the ultimate sacrifice he will forever been seen, and respected as a Ponoka hero who we will honor for eternity. We may never fully understand what Frederick Keith Miller endured during his deployment overseas, but we will forever remember this soldier was someone more than just a regimental number. But a young man with a story well- deserved of being known. Lest we forget, Frederick Keith Miller.
Frederick Keith Miller’s grave is No. 4, row B, plot 10 at the Beny-Sur-Mer Cemetery.