Serial Number: NZ401492
RNZAF Trade: Pilot u/t, then Bomb Aimer/Navigator
Date of Enlistment:1940
Rank Achieved: Pilot Officer
Flying Hours: 145 hours
Operational Sorties: Nil Ops
Date of Birth: Brian was born on the 8th of December 1920, at Gisborne
Personal Details: Son of Mr Ronald James Miller and Clarice Gardner Miller of Kimbolton, Mt Maunganui. Ron Miller had worked in Cambridge till 1936 at the Farmers' Auctioneering Company. Brian had been educated at Cambridge District High School and left the district with his parents in 1936 while still in his early teens. He also attended school in Hamilton and Wairarapa during his years of education.
Brian was a keen cricketer and football player, and he also enjoyed athletics. After leaving school in 1937 he played golf for the Fielding Golf Club. At this time he was studying accountancy at the Palmerston North Technical College. He joined the staff of the Union Bank of Australia Ltd in Fielding, where he was working when he applied for the RNZAF on the 18th of September 1939. Brian later transferred to work at the Bank of New Zealand in Auckland, where he worked until enlisting into the RNZAF
Service Details: Brian enlisted at the Initial Training Wing, RNZAF Station Levin on the 4th of June 1940. Following Ground Training, he then proceeded on the 1st of July 1940 to No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Bell Block, New Plymouth.
Following this period of flying training on the DH82 Tiger Moth, Brian was posted to No. 3 Service Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Ohakea on the 4th of September 1940. It was only slightly into this course on the more advanced Hawker Hind trainers, in early September, that Brian's training as a pilot ceased, and he was remustered to the trade of Observer. He was reposted to the Initial Training Wing to undergo rudimentary training in that trade, and on the 16th of January 1941 he embarked for Canada aboard the Empress of Russia liner.
On arriving in Canada on the 21st of January 1941, Brian was posted to No. 4 Air Observers' School at London, Ontario, arriving there on the 23rd. On the 14th of April he progressed to No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario. He passed the course satisfactorily and was awarded his Air Observer's badge on the 26th of May 1941. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on the same day.
Brian was then sent to No. 1 Advanced Navigation School at Rivers, Manitoba, during June 1941, and on completing this advanced course he was granted a commission, promoting him to the rank of Pilot Officer on the 24th of June 41.
With his training in Canada now complete, Brian made his way to No. 1 'M' Depot at Debert, Nova Scotia, where he embarked on a troopship bound for the United Kingdom. He arrived in Britain during August 1941 and was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre in Bournemouth to await further posting orders.
On the 29th of August 1941, Brian was posted to No. 16 Operational Training Unit at Upper Heyford to complete his training up to operational level. It was while on this course that Brian was killed in a flying accident.
Details of Death: On the 10th of October 1941, Brian was acting as Observer on a 16 OTU Handley Page Hampden I (coded (4319). The aircraft was piloted by Sgt C.P.A.I. Rose-Innes of the Royal Air Force. The aircraft took off at 21.15hrs for a nighttime bombing practice, but it climbed steeply, yawed to port and spun into the ground. It crashed a mile southwest of the airfield, and caught fire. All four onboard were killed. Brian was aged just 20.
Buried at: Upper Heyford Cemetery, Section B, Grave 100
Connection with Cambridge: Brian was a resident of Cambridge before the war and had attended Cambridge District High School
Note: Sources include the Waikato Independent newspaper, and official RNZAF records. Details of this airman's death were sourced from the excellent volumes of 'For Your Tomorrow' by Errol Martyn. See more details on these highly recommended books here