Auction Catalogue

19 April 2023

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№ 79


19 April 2023

Hammer Price:

‘In a tour characterised by numerous acts of courage in heavy urban fighting, Corporal Miller’s actions stand out as the defining example of bravery under fire. His premeditated and determined conduct showed conspicuous gallantry of a very high order.’
The final paragraph of the recipient’s C.G.C. citation refers.

‘To have operated in such a dedicated and tireless manner, in the face of a determined enemy, can only be described as an astonishing feat.’
Letter to the recipient from H.R.H. The Duchess of Cornwall (now H.M. the Queen Consort) refers.

A rare Iraq ‘Operation Telic 10 C.G.C. group of six awarded to Warrant Officer Class II A. W. Miller, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, for his great gallantry in attempting to recover an ambushed low-loader carrying high-profile military vehicles in a militia stronghold in the centre of Basra on 21 May 2007: over the course of nearly 2 hours, much of that time under constant heavy enemy machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire in a 360° and 3 dimensional urban battle, he worked on the recovery, ‘displaying icy nerve, professional dedication, and almost suicidal courage in an impossible situation’

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, E.II.R., reverse officially inscribed ‘25078767 Cpl A W Miller REME’, and reverse lower arm officially dated ‘2008’, on original mounting pin; N.A.T.O. Medal 1994, 1 clasp, Kosovo; Iraq 2003-11, 1 clasp, 19 Mar to 28 Apr 2003 (25078767 LCpl A W Miller REME); Jubilee 2012, unnamed as issued; Jubilee 2022, unnamed as issued, in card box of issue; Army L.S. & G.C., E.II.R., 2nd issue, Regular Army (Sgt A W Miller CGC REME 25078767), second, third, fourth, and sixth mounted court-style as worn, about extremely fine (6) £100,000-£140,000

The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross was instituted in 1993 following the review of the British Honours System, and is awarded ‘in recognition of an act or acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy.’ As a gallantry award it ranks second only to the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

To date a total of 60 Conspicuous Gallantry Crosses have been awarded (together with one unit award to the Royal Irish Regiment), of which 2 were for operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina; 2 were for operations in Sierra Leone; 15 were for operations in Iraq; and 41 for operations in Afghanistan. Miller’s award is unique to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and as no member of the R.E.M.E. has been awarded either the V.C. or the G.C. he is therefore the Corps’ highest-decorated soldier.

C.G.C. London Gazette 7 March 2008:
‘For gallant and distinguished services in Iraq during the period 1 April to 30 September 2007.

The official citation states: ‘On the afternoon of 21 May 2007, on the first day of 4 Rifles battle-group’s tour in Basra city, R Company was tasked with a re-supply convoy to and from the Provincial Joint Co-ordination Centre - on isolated base in the heart of Basra. On the return leg the convoy came under ferocious contact on a busy junction in a militia stronghold. The ambush involving over 100 insurgents firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), destroyed a fuel tanker, caused two fatalities and severely damaged a civilian low loader carrying Saxon and Land Rover, which limped to a canal crossing before breaking down blocking the bridge. The loss of military vehicles in the centre of Basra would have allowed the militias to claim a significant victory - the decision was taken to fight to recover the vehicles.

Whilst this contact was going on, Corporal Miller, a recovery mechanic, was on standby in Basra Palace. The complexity and nature of the breakdown meant that the Foden (an unprotected soft-skin wheeled recovery truck) was the only recovery asset capable of performing the task, so Corporal Miller and Lance-Corporal Burn (the Foden driver) were tasked to the scene. They were escorted 3 miles to the breakdown site by a platoon from R Company. By the time they arrived, the platoon at the bridge were engaged in an intense gun battle with about 75 militia engaging from 15-20 firing points, on roofs, alleyways, cars and from the Iraqi Police Station at rages of 50 to 200 metres and in a 360° radius. The noise of automatic fire, metallic ringing of bullets striking vehicles and repeated explosions of RPG warheads on the Warriors and Bulldogs was continuous and deafening. Into this maelstrom drove Corporal Miller in his soft-skinned recovery vehicle. Corporal Miller carefully reversed the Foden up to the disabled low-loader and then without hesitation dismounted.
The soldiers, fighting for their lives from under armour, watched in fear of Corporal Miller’s life, as he ran forward 50 metres across the exposed bridge, in complete view of the enemy to begin his assessment. For the next 45 minutes, with only one single Bulldog to provide a shield at the site - scant protection in a 360° and 3 dimensional urban battle - he worked on the recovery, attempting first to bleed the brakes; then to unhook the tractor unit; and then to cut the securing chains for the Saxon and Land Rover. He repeatedly ran back the company commander’s Bulldog to report on his progress. Throughout this period he was under continuous and heavy fire with bullets striking the road, bridge railings and vehicle he was working on, often only inches from him. The militia then resorted to firing RPGs to attempt to destroy the low-loader and its high profile military cargo. In the course of 15 minutes, five RPGs detonated on the vehicle, no more than a few feet from Corporal Miller as he worked. It is a miracle he survived. Despite his extraordinary dedicated and resourceful efforts, the low loader ultimately proved too severely damaged to be towed and only at this point, with all options exhausted, did Corporal Miller return to the Palace.

In all, Corporal Miller was exposed, either in the soft-skinned Foden or dismounted, for nearly 2 hours, much of that time under constant and heavy enemy fire including over 20 RPGs. Despite these threats and the inherent danger of a fuel explosion, Corporal Miller displayed icy nerve, professional dedication of the very highest order and almost suicidal courage in an impossible situation. In a tour characterised by numerous acts of courage in heavy urban fighting, Corporal Miller’s actions stand out as the defining example of bravery under fire. His premeditated and determined conduct showed conspicuous gallantry of a very high order.’

Adam William Miller attested for the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers on 28 June 1998, and after completing Basic Training at the Army Training Centre Pirbright conducted trade training as a Recovery Mechanic at the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at Bordon. He served with the R.E.M.E. extensively in Germany, Canada and the UK, and was deployed on operations to both Kosovo and Iraq. It was during his second tour of Iraq, during Operation Telic 10 on 21 May 2007, that he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his gallantry under heavy enemy fire in Basra, on the first day of his Battle-group’s tour of the city. After dodging bullets and rocket propelled grenades for two hours in trying to move the low-loader truck that was blocking a key bridge over the canal, Miller later recalled, ‘At the time, I was completely unaware of the severity of the situation, my sole focus was to extract the casualty vehicle to a place of safety, it was only afterwards that I realised how dangerous the situation had actually been.’

Miller was invested with his Conspicuous Gallantry Cross by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on 4 June 2008, and in December of that year was further honoured by the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers with the opening of “Miller’s Bar” at 6 Close Support Battalion’s Tidworth base. He was awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in September 2013, and having been advanced Warrant Officer Class II, was discharged on 17 January 2023, after 24 years’ exemplary service.

Sold with the recipient’s Certificate of Service; programme for the recipient’s Investiture at Buckingham Palace on 4 June 2008, with named ticket; a photographic image of the recipient receiving the C.G.C. from H.M. Queen Elizabeth II; a signed unframed print of the recipient in action during his C.G.C.-winning exploits (the original on display in the R.E.M.E. Museum at Lyneham); and various letters of congratulations on the award of the C.G.C., including those from:
- H.R.H. The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel-in-Chief, R.E.M.E.
- H.R.H. The Duchess of Cornwall, Royal Colonel, 4th Battalion, The Rifles, and signed ‘Camilla’
- General Sir David Richards, Commander-in-Chief, Land Command
- Lieutenant-General Nick Parker, Colonel Commandant, The Rifles
- Major-General Tim Tyler, Colonel Commandant, R.E.M.E.
- Major-General Barney White-Spunner, General Officer Commanding, 3rd Division
- Brigadier James Bashall, Commander, 1st Mechanised Brigade
- Brigadier Brian McCall, Director Electrical and Mechanical Engineering
- Colonel Richard Bennett, Regimental Colonel, R.E.M.E.
- Colonel Andrew Brown, Commander, Equipment Support
- Lieutenant-Colonel Bob Fram, M.C., 6th Battalion, R.E.M.E. (who was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during Operation
Telic 10).

Withdrawn from the auction to be displayed at the REME Museum.