Remembrance Day 2018: ‘He never saw himself as a hero’ – pensioner writes about father’s First World War experiences with the cavalry

Arthur's father Everard Miles known as "Joe".'Picture: Sarah Standing (180820-9391)
Arthur's father Everard Miles known as "Joe".'Picture: Sarah Standing (180820-9391)

HE WAS one of the first brave warriors to join the conflict – and was still standing on the final day of the war.

Now, the son of a Fareham man who fought through the duration of the First World War has immortalised his stories and memories, saying that we ‘mustn’t forget’ what heroes like his father gave for this country.

Arthur Miles (89) from Bedhampton, has published a book detailing his father's journey during the First World War'Picture: Sarah Standing (180820-9368)

Arthur Miles (89) from Bedhampton, has published a book detailing his father's journey during the First World War'Picture: Sarah Standing (180820-9368)

Arthur Miles, 89, from Bedhampton, has published a book about his father, Everard Joseph Miles, documenting his journey through the war from postcards and diary notes.

Everard J Miles served with the Royal Irish 4th Dragoon Guards, joining the war as a 20-year-old man – although he had first joined the army when he was 15.

Mr Miles said: ‘My father was living in the village of Fontmell Magna, in Dorset, where there was a massive conscription campaign. He never said why he signed up, but everyone did at that time.

‘He was in the war right from the beginning with the first British troops involved, and was still preparing for a major battle when the Armistice was signed.

Some of the letters and diaries'Picture: Sarah Standing (180820-9398)

Some of the letters and diaries'Picture: Sarah Standing (180820-9398)

‘I found a bunch of postcards and my father’s diary, and wanted to put it all into a book.

‘It turned out that my father had been involved in almost all of the major battles, including events like the Battle of Ypres – that’s because, as part of the cavalry he was stationed across all fronts

‘To know that my father played such an active role in the First World War is fascinating.’

Everard J Miles tied the knot with his wife, Ivy, at Holy Trinity Church in Fareham in 1917 – having been granted a 72-hour pass.

Arthur says that his father never really opened up about what he saw during the war, and having seen his diary, now understands why.

He explained: ‘My father never told me what he’d seen during the war – I remember badgering him about it once as a child and he showed me a picture of a German soldier he said he had killed in hand-to-hand combat – but nothing more than that.

‘As a religious man he was distraught about killing, but it was a “kill or be killed” scenario.

‘Being involved in so many battles, as well as tragic events such as the first gas attack of the war, you can understand why it was locked away in a diary.’

After the war ended, Everard moved from job to job, eventually settling down at the RNAD Frater in Gosport – which stored ordnance for Royal Navy deployments.

Arthur said: ‘Much like today, a lot of the soldiers found it hard readjusting to civilian life – my father included.

‘He worked a bunch of jobs – including working at the town council – so became quite a familiar face.

‘The police always knew who he was too, but only because he trained their tug of war team.’

Everard died in December 1972, aged 78 and with this weekend marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, Arthur says that we must never forget the memories of individual soldiers who gave their all for their country.

He said: ‘I am incredibly proud of my father, but he never saw himself as a hero for what he did.

‘I think he would be happy to see so many people turn out for the Armistice commemorations – knowing that they recognise what he and so many others did.

‘These soldiers never wanted to talk about their experiences, and so it falls to us to preserve their memories for the years to come.

‘It’s really important to remember them and keep these stories alive.’