1st Lieutenant Seymour Miller (1919–1944)

1st Lieutenant Seymour Miller in 1944 (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)
Home StateCivilian Occupation
DelawareFurniture salesman
BranchService Number
U.S. ArmyEnlisted 32243315 / Officer O-1301348
TheaterUnit
EuropeanCompany “L,” 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division
AwardsCampaigns/Battles
Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge (presumed)Normandy
Military Occupational Specialty
1542 (infantry unit commander)
Seymour Miller in an undated photograph taken in Wilmington (Courtesy of Danna Miller Levy)

Early Life & Family

Seymour Miller was born in the Delaware Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, on the afternoon of October 25, 1919.  He was the fourth and youngest child of Nathan Miller (a furniture merchant, circa 1884–1967) and Anna Miller (née Schultz, circa 1884–1934).  His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia, now U.S. citizens.  His father and uncles operated a furniture business, Miller Brothers, at 9th and King Streets.  He had three older siblings: Howard Aaron Miller (who also served in the U.S. Army during World War II, 1906–1994), Richard Miller (1908–1988), and Rosalie Shirley Miller (later Goldman, 1909–1996).

When Miller was born, his family was living at 612 North Broom Street in Wilmington.  It appears that the Miller family purchased a house at 703 North Broom Street (currently Mealey Funeral Home) on June 19, 1925.  Regardless, they were living at that address at the time they were recorded on the census on April 9, 1930.  Miller began attending Wilmington High School in February 1932.  Although he was just 12 years when he began high school, Miller repeatedly made the honor roll.  He had his bar mitzvah at Adas Kodesch (then located at 6th and French Streets) on October 29, 1932.

He is likely the Seymour Miller mentioned in a February 18, 1934, article in The Delmarva Star who was elected vice president of the new Wilmington Young Judea club.  The following month, Miller’s mother died on March 26, 1934.  He was 14 years old. 

A May 17, 1935, article in the Wilmington Morning News indicated that Miller was a member of the National Honor Society.  He graduated fifth in his class at Wilmington High School on June 20, 1935, when he was only 15.  That fall, Miller entered Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, majoring first in chemistry and later in zoology.  His 1939 college yearbook stated that Miller

does profess a profound interest in one thing, athletics, and is well known as a keen theorist and scientist in sports, constantly devising very tricky and strangely workable plays for many an intramural athletic contest, while his interests in zoology remain in the background.

Seymour Miller in his 1939 college yearbook (Courtesy of the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College)

After graduating from college in 1939, Miller returned to Wilmington.  As of April 4, 1940, Miller was living with his father and stepmother, Esther Zucker Miller (1903–1990), at 1508 Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilmington.  By that time, Miller was working as a salesman at Miller Bros. 

When Miller registered for the draft on July 1, 1941, he was living with his family at 1508 Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilmington and working as a salesman for the family furniture business at the corner of 9th and King Streets.  The registrar described him as standing approximately five feet, eight inches tall and weighing 144 lbs., with brown hair and eyes. 

Miller married Louise Ruth Zurkow (1920–2012) in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 8, 1941.  Louise became pregnant before her husband went overseas, but the child was stillborn.  

Lieutenant Miller’s wife Louise wearing what appears to be an American Red Cross uniform (Courtesy of Danna Miller Levy)

Seymour Miller as an enlisted man in 1942 (Courtesy of Danna Miller Levy)

Military Training

Miller was drafted a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He joined the U.S. Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey, on February 27, 1942.  According to the Individual Military Service Record that his wife filled out for the State of Delaware Public Archives Commission, he was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he was assigned to the Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 71st Infantry Regiment, 44th Infantry Division.  The 71st Infantry Regiment had originally been a New York National Guard unit before entering federal service in September 1940.  In August 1942, Corporal Miller began Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.  In a quirk of fate, Miller’s original unit wouldn’t arrive in France until almost two months after his death. 

Upon graduation on November 24, 1942, Miller was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant in the Infantry.  According to his wife’s statement, Lieutenant Miller was stationed at Camp Roberts, California, until February 1943, followed by Gilroy, California, from February 1943 through February 1944.  Louise Miller wrote that her husband was promoted to 1st lieutenant in August 1943.  An October 15, 1943, article in the Wilmington Morning News announcing his promotion stated that Louise Miller was able to accompany her husband to his assignment at Gilroy.  She wrote that he was briefly stationed at Camp Maxey, Texas, from February 1944 until May 1944.  Presumably, he went overseas that month, where he joined the Company “L,” 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division in England.


Seymour Miller (left) with an unidentified soldier, probably taken stateside in 1942 based on their black ties (Courtesy of Danna Miller Levy)

Combat in Normandy

1st Lieutenant Miller’s unit arrived in Normandy on June 22, 1944.  It was just over two weeks after D-Day, and the grueling Normandy campaign was still in progress.  The terrain, with its thick hedgerows, benefitted the German defenders.  On the afternoon of June 27, 1944, Company “L” arrived at the front lines near Carentan.  The next few days were quiet and saw only patrolling, though a few men were wounded by artillery fire.  On June 30, 1944, 3rd Battalion (which included Lieutenant Miller’s Company “L”) became the regimental reserve.

The 330th Infantry Regiment launched its first attack on the morning of July 4, 1944, led by 1st and 2nd Battalions, with 3rd Battalion in reserve.  The regimental after action report stated that “The attack met stiff resistance especially mortar and [artillery] fire which was zeroed in on hedgerows over which the attack had to pass.”  Although 3rd Battalion entered the fighting that evening, “Very little progress was made during the day.” 

The following day, July 5, 1944, 3rd Battalion was attached to another of the 83rd Infantry Division’s regiments, the 329th Infantry.  The advance made only limited headway.  That night, just after midnight on July 6, 1944, the regimental after action report recorded that:

3rd Bn heavily shelled at 0100 as it moved into position with 329th [Infantry Regiment].  Shelling disorganized the Bn and caused heavy casualties.  Co L was cut off from Bn [and] received enemy counterattack in considerable force which was beaten off after inflicting heavy casualties.

3rd Battalion was isolated from the rest of the regiment on July 7, 1944, but “ammo and food delivered in jeeps escorted by light tanks.  1st and 2nd Bn advanced abreast 2½ Kilometers and reached objective relieving pressure on 3rd Bn.”

During the next two days, resistance by enemy tanks spoiled the 330th Infantry Regiment’s attempts to advance.  On the afternoon of July 10, 1944, 3rd Battalion attempted another attack against the German right, making it only 200 yards before enemy armor again forced them back.  It was only on July 11, 1944, the eighth day of the offensive, that 1st and 2nd Battalions were able to break the enemy line with the help of close air support.

Company “L” had entered combat with six officers.  By July 8, 1944, one was dead and two seriously wounded.  Three replacement officers were assigned on July 9, 1944 (one of whom was killed one week later).  Of the 187 enlisted men who had arrived in Normandy, there were only 114 left.  Among the 73 casualties, there were a handful of men killed in action, many wounded, and some lost to combat exhaustion.  Some replacements arrived, bringing Company “L” up to 124 enlisted men—nowhere near full strength—by the time 3rd Battalion went back into action on July 15, 1944, during an attack near Remilly-sur-Lozon.  The regimental after action report stated that “It was necessary for 3rd Bn to make a stream crossing during this operation.  Enemy had observation on the stream and 3rd Bn suffered casualties from small arms fire.”

After three days of fighting, Company “L” went into reserve at La Barre on July 17, 1944.  Attrition had reduced the company to 4 officers and 93 enlisted men.  Lieutenant Miller and the company commander were the only remaining officers among those who had arrived in Normandy the month before.  Replacements flowed into the company, returning it to full strength.

On July 25, 1944, the Allies launched Operation Cobra with the goal of finally breaking out of Normandy.  That morning, a massive aerial bombardment—including B-17s and B-24s designed for strategic rather than tactical bombing—saturated the German front line. 

The 330th Infantry Regiment after action report stated that

Regt began attack at 1110 [hours] coordinating with 9th [Infantry] Div on left.  […]  Attack made slow progress toward PERIERS – LESSAY road, [coordinates] 365692.  Heavy fire from all arms encountered.  Flanking fire from [Marchésieux], 356719, area being effective against us.

Lieutenant Miller was killed in action on July 25, 1944.  He was one of 273 casualties suffered by the 330th Infantry Regiment that day.  According to a digitized hospital admission card under his service number, Lieutenant Miller was killed by an artillery shell.  He was buried in a temporary cemetery in Normandy. 

Operation Cobra was successful, leading to the breakout from Normandy and in short order, the liberation of France, though much hard fighting remained.

Lieutenant Miller’s family had learned of his death by August 21, 1944, when the news was printed in Journal-Every Evening.  Miller was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

After the war, Miller’s family requested that his body be repatriated to the United States.  According to his obituary, printed in the Wilmington Morning News on May 14, 1948, after services at the Chandler Funeral Home in Wilmington on May 14, 1948, Lieutenant Miller was to be buried in the Jewish section of the Lombardy Cemetery in north Wilmington.  The section, now known as the Jewish Community Cemetery, is where his mother was buried.  However, according to Find a Grave, Lieutenant Miller’s headstone is actually located in another Wilmington cemetery, Silverbrook. 

Lieutenant Miller’s Purple Heart certificate (Courtesy of Danna Miller Levy)
Seymour Miller’s name at Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Delaware (Author’s photograph)

Lieutenant Miller is honored at Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle and on a memorial at the Jewish Community Cemetery for local Jewish servicemembers killed during World War II.

His widow, Louise, remarried in Dover, Delaware, on June 30, 1950, to Harold David Koffsky (1914–2010), with whom she raised two sons.


Lieutenant Miller’s father, Nathan Miller (Courtesy of Danna Miller Levy)

Notes

Parents

Most records have Nathan Miller as born in 1884, although his World War I draft card lists 1883 instead.  Anna Miller’s date of birth is also unclear.  Different ages were recorded in census records, though she was described as 50 years old when she died. 

Name

Curiously, his birth certificate listed his name as Seamoor Irwin Millie.  Most records including all known military records list him as Seymour Miller with no middle initial.  His 1937 college yearbook listed his name as Seymour Irving Miller, but the 1939 yearbook just listed him as Seymour Miller.

Stepmother

After his wife’s death, Nathan Miller remarried to Esther Zucker in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 12, 1940.  The couple had one daughter together, born after Seymour Miller’s death.

Brother’s Military Service

Howard A. Miller, a lawyer, was stationed at the Antiaircraft Artillery Training Center at Camp Stewart, Georgia.  Initially serving as an enlisted man, a July 5, 1944, Journal-Every Evening article reported that he had been appointed as a warrant officer (junior grade).  An article in the same paper printed on November 4, 1944, reported that Miller was assisting foreign-born American soldiers with applying for U.S. citizenship and that “Miller has been in charge of the Camp Stewart naturalization division since [its] inception.”  Because not all the soldiers initially met the requirements, “Miller formed a class of three refugees and taught them English and American history during his spare time.  He was so successful that his class expanded until he was teaching an average of 50 aliens in three different groups.”

When Did Miller Join the 83rd Infantry Division?

Louise Miller stated that her husband “Went overseas in June 1944 as an officer replacement” and joined Company “L,” 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division.  However, he must have joined that unit no longer than May 31, 1944, since the company’s morning reports have been digitized from June 1, 1944, and don’t mentioned him until his death.  Had he been transferred into the unit during that time, there would have been an entry.  While it is theoretically possible that an entry could be omitted by the company clerk, I checked the names of officers present for duty—which was compiled on a daily basis—and accounted for all other 1st lieutenants in Company “L.”

One document that (perhaps) supports Louise Miller’s statement, which I am unable to explain, is the fact that Seymour Miller was on record as having given his wife power of attorney over his affairs, effective June 2, 1944.  The notary, Samuel F. Keil, asserted that Miller personally appeared before him on that date in Wilmington.

Duty

Under the table of organization and equipment for an infantry rifle company, each company had six officers.  All six had the Military Occupational Specialty of 1542 (infantry unit commander) but their assigned duties varied.  The company commander was a captain.  One 1st lieutenant served as executive officer, while the other commanded the weapons platoon.  The three rifle platoons were commanded by 2nd lieutenants.  Curiously, Company “L” went into combat with three 1st lieutenants and two 2nd lieutenants, suggesting one of the 1st lieutenants was a rifle platoon leader. 

There is some circumstantial evidence suggesting that Miller was the executive officer: After two 1st lieutenants were wounded, a replacement officer arrived on July 9, 1944, with the stated duty of platoon leader.  It’s unclear whether, if 1st Lieutenant Miller was the executive officer, he would have taken over a platoon after half the company’s officers were wounded.

Hospital Admission Card

Hospital admission cards were filled out even when a casualty did not survive to make it to an aid station.  Lieutenant Miller’s status was killed in action rather than died of wounds, indicating that he was killed instantly or died soon after, before reaching medical care.

Miller Brothers

A Delaware property record mentioned that Miller Brothers was incorporated in 1905.  The company purchased property at 9th and King Streets on December 19, 1914.  That’s consistent with an August 23, 1977, column by Bill Frank stating that Miller Brothers was at 9th and King Streets from around 1915 until 1977, when the main store moved to Concord Pike.  Miller Brothers (later Miller’s Furniture Industries, Inc.) went through several moves and expansions.  The last of the family’s businesses—Miller Carpet One Floor & Home at 500 West Basin Road in New Castle—closed in 2014.


Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Danna Miller Levy, the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College, and to the Delaware Public Archives for the use of their photos of Lieutenant Miller.


Bibliography

“Organize Young Judea.”  The Delmarva Star, February 18, 1934.  Pg. 16. https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-10969-813436521/seymour-miller-in-newspaper-name-index-usa-canada#fullscreen

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“Delawareans in the Service.”  Journal-Every Evening, November 27, 1942.  Pg. 14.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/84867488/seymour-miller-commissioned/

Dobo, Nichole.  “After 114 years, Miller Carpet One closing.”  The News Journal, April 25, 2014. https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2014/04/25/years-miller-carpet-one-floor-home-closing/8166039/

“Esther Zucker Has Sister As Sole Attendant.”  The Herald-News, March 12, 1940.  Pg. 6. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/88539776/nathan-miller-remarries/  

Frank, Bill.  “The amazing centennial of immigrant Miller.”  Evening Journal, December 21, 1984.  Pg. A18. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87921741/nathan-miller/

Frank, Bill.  “Moving out of the city.”  The Morning News, August 23, 1977.  Pg. 8.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87923000/miller-brother-history/

“H. A. Miller Aids Alien Born GIs to Become U. S. Citizens.”  Journal-Every Evening, November 4, 1944.  Pg. 1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/84905513/seymour-miller-brother/

Halcyon 1937. http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/SC_Halcyon/id/22874/rec/8

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“Honor Seymour Miller With Reception at Home.”  Every Evening, October 29, 1932.  Pg. 4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/88367690/seymour-miller-bar-mitzvah/

“Largest W. H. School Class Is Graduated.”  Journal-Every Evening, June 21, 1935.  Pg. 1 and 4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/88529229/whs-class-of-1935/ and https://www.newspapers.com/clip/88529054/seymour-miller-fifth-in-class-whs/

 “Lieut. Seymour Miller.”  Wilmington Morning News, May 14, 1948.  Pg. 4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/84866980/seymour-miller-obituary/

“Lieut. Seymour Miller, Pvt. Bailey Killed.”  Journal-Every Evening, August 21, 1944.  Pg. 1 and 10. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87940350/miller-kia/ and https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87940663/miller-kia-pg-2/

“Louise Z. Koffsky.”  The Washington Post, May 21, 2012. https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/washingtonpost/name/louise-koffsky-obituary?pid=157732237

Miller, Louise.  Seymour Miller Individual Military Service Record, February 2, 1945.  Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/20013/rec/1

Morning Reports for Company “L,” 330th Infantry Regiment, June 1944.  National Personnel Records Center.  https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/MR/MR_330_Co_L_JUN1944.pdf

Morning Reports for Company “L,” 330th Infantry Regiment, July 1944.  National Personnel Records Center.   https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/MR/MR_330_Co_L_JUL1944.pdf  

“Mrs. Anna Miller to be Buried Today.”  Wilmington Morning News, March 27, 1934. Pg. 2. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87925724/seymour-millers-mother-obit/

Our Part In The War: Third Battalion 330th Infhttps://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/various/330th_3rdBn_Our_part_in_the_war.pdf

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Seamoor Irwin Millie birth certificate.  Record Group 1500-008-094, Birth certificates.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware.

“Seymour Miller.”  Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/124584472/seymour-miller

Stanton, Shelby L. World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division 1939–1946.  Revised ed.  Stackpole Books, 2006.

“Table of Organization and Equipment No. 7-17: Infantry Rifle Company.”  War Department, February 26, 1944.  Military Research Service website.  http://www.militaryresearch.org/7-17%2026Feb44.pdf

United States of America, Bureau of the Census.  Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920.  National Archives at Washington, D.C.    https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4295769-00920

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U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954.  Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/record/703897623/blank-us-wwii-hospital-admission-card-files-1942-1954

“Wilmington Lawyer, Nurse Given Promotions by Army.”  Journal-Every Evening, July 5, 1944.  Pg. 11. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/88556246/howard-miller-warrant-officer/

World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.  National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6482/images/005207038_00912

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WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947.  Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System.  National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44003_01_00004-00131   


Last updated on November 13, 2021

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