The Royal New Zealand Artillery
Most of you will be aware of the Reg Miles story. Briefly, he was the top graduate of the original graduating class from RMC Duntroon in 1914, with Graduation Certificate No 1. He took the first NZ guns ashore at Gallipoli, was recommended for a VC in France (he got the DSO) and won an MC. He was wounded twice and ended the War as the Brigade Major of the NZ Div artillery, responsible for the fire plans at Messines and Le Quesnoy.
In WW2 he was the CRA, commanding all 2 NZ Div’s artillery. He was captured in a slit trench, wounded, and engaging the enemy with a rifle, behind 6 Fd Regt when it was overrun by German Panzers and infantry, at Bel Hamad in Dec 1940.
Imprisoned in the Generals’ camp outside Florence, six senior officers escaped after digging a tunnel under the chapel in the castle walls. The four British escapees were quickly captured; the two NZers got to Switzerland and were interned.
With NZ wanting Miles back in 2 NZ Div, the British secret escape organization got him out of Switzerland, across occupied France and into neutral Spain, where he was to be taken out by submarine from Gibraltar. For his Desert service he was awarded the CBE by NZ, and for his daring escape a second DSO by the British. He was the most senior successful Commonwealth escapee in the war.
Unfortunately, he died in mysterious circumstances in Figueras in Northern Spain in Oct 1943, where he was buried with full military honours by the Spanish, and where he remains.
The room in which he died is now part of a museum. A group of Spanish locals, with the agreement of the Museum, are planning to develop a permanent memorial for Miles in the room, on the 80th anniversary of his death, in late October this year.
We feel that New Zealand needs to also memorialise Miles in the Museum room, and we are calling for donations to raise enough for a suitable bronze plaque to be commissioned and placed with the Spanish memorial, from New Zealand. The alternative is an oil painting of Miles. A bronze is about $6,000, an oil about $4,000.
We have a donor who will match the first $750 raised, dollar for dollar.
Please forward your donation to the RNZA Historic Trust with Miles in the reference field, at BNZ Hutt Central 02-0528-0274552-000.
The trust is a Registered Charity, so donations are deductable for tax purposes. If you require a receipt for tax purposes, please email Barry Dreyer at firstname.lastname@example.org