William Edward Miller, Capt. U.S. NAVY
William Edward Miller was born in West Virginia on January 6, 1898.
He attended the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD graduating in 1919 with Class of 1920.
Captain Miller served aboard a large number of vessels of the US Navy Fleet, including the U.S.S. Grafwaldersee (Transport ID #4040), the U.S.S. Frederick (LST-1184), the U.S.S. South Dakota (?), U.S.S. Texas (BB-35) and the U.S.S. New York (BB-34), operating in home waters and on the European and Asiatic stations. In addition he served as First Lieutenant on the U.S.S. Detroit (CL-8), navigator on the U.S.S. Nashville (CL-43) and skipper of the U.S.S. Montgomery (DD-121/DM-17). He also had duty in different capacities on several destroyers. Over the years Captain Miller held many posts ashore including instructor in navigation at the US Naval Academy, Commanding Officer of the Navy Science School, Planning Section at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, and the Southeastern Recruiting District in Alabama.
In January 1941 he took command of the Naval Training School in Dearborn, Michigan that Henry Ford offered to the military to house and instruct military personnel in technical training. In December 1941 he was ordered to Newport, RI following Pearl Harbor.
Captain Miller was the first commanding officer (05 Oct 43 - Dec 44) of the troop transport ship, U.S.S. General A. E. Anderson AP-111, commissioned 5 October 1943. He remained on board the General Anderson unitl December 1944.
He was also the first commanding officer of U.S.S. Little Rock (CL-92), serving from 14 Jun 45 to 07 Jul 46 .
He was married to Miriam Badlam Pearce Myers of Newtown, MA and had one daughter, Miriam Currie Miller Balson.
He died in Inverness, FL on February 8, 1988.
Ed. Note: Our "Thanks" to Carolie McLaughlin, grand-daughter of Captain Miller, for her contribution of biographical information and the "official" photograph of Captain Miller.
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The following is a brief chronology of Capyain Miller's time as CO of the U.S.S. General A.E. Anderson.
U.S.S. General A. E. Anderson AP - 111 was christened by Mrs. George C. Marshall on 2 May 1943, and was placed in full commission 05 October 1943 with Captain W. E. Miller in command.
From 25 October 1943 to 21 March 1944 General A.E. Anderson made four round-trip transport voyages out of Norfolk to Casablanca, French Morocco. Underway again 26 March 1944, she returned to North Africa and touched at Gourock, Scotland, before steaming to Bermuda, where British censors and their families embarked for passage to New York. The ship reached New York 7 May, and following a round-trip voyage to Belfast, Ireland, she stood out of Norfolk 29 June for Bombay, where her troops debarked 7 August. General A.E. Anderson returned to San Pedro, Calif., 11 September 1944 and subsequently made another long round-trip voyage thence to Bombay via Australia, returning 09 December 1944.
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The following is a brief chronology of Captain Miller's time as CO of the U.S.S. Little Rock
• U.S.S. LITTLE ROCK CL-92 was commissioned 17 Jun 1945 with Captain William E. Miller in command.
• On 19 Jul 1945 Capt. W.E. Miller was commissioned an "Arkansas Traveler" by Mayor Dan T. Sprick, Mayor of Little Rock, AR (1945-47).
• 30 Oct 1945 U.S.S. Little Rock underway for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, SA, the start of CL-92's South America cruise.
• 05 Nov 1945 Crossed Equator Heading South (Approx. Date)
• 25 Jan 1946 Rounded Cape Horn, Argentina, SA (Approx. Date)
• 09 March 1946 Crossed Equator Heading North (Approx. Date)
• 11-15 Mar 1946 Transited Panama Canal
• 30 Mar 1946 Returned Norfolk, VA
• 04 (06?) Jun 1946 Departed Philadelphia, PA for Plymouth England; Scapa Flow and Inverness, Scotland; Goteburg, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden
• 07 (11?) Jul 1946 Captain Miller is relieved as CO of CL-92 by Captain Henri Smith-Hutton.
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The following is material from Captain Smith-Hutton's Oral History pertaining to Captain Miller.
Q: When did you join your ship?
Smith-Hutton: I left the Bureau on 26 June ‘46, and since I had to proceed to Europe I was allowed to use government air transportation outside the United States. I joined the ship in Copenhagen, Denmark on 8 July. I’d made a brief stop in New York, had flown from Westover Field to Paris to London, and then to Copenhagen.
When I reported on board, I found that the ship was scheduled to get underway the following day for Stockholm, Sweden. I was relieving Captain William E. Miller, and he suggested that the change in command be made in Stockholm, which would give me a chance to observe drills and exercises while underway. I agreed, and when the formalities had been completed, I took command on 11 July 1946.
Q: What kind of operations were scheduled for the Little Rock?
Smith-Hutton: At that time the ship was operating with the Houston, a sister ship, under the direct command of Admiral H.K. Hewitt, Commander U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and Commander 12th Fleet. Normally, Admiral Hewitt was in London, but for this cruise he was flying his flag in the Houston.
(See complete U.S.S. Little Rock chronologies for 1945 and 1946)
William E, Miller reading his orders at the commissioning of the
U.S.S. Little Rock CL-92
17 June 1945
Official U.S. Navy Photo
United States Navy Service School
Ford Motor Company River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan
The largest of the many Ford instructional programs during World War II was the United States Navy Service School at the Rouge plant in Dearborn. A year before Pearl Harbor, on December 6, 1940, ground was broken for the training of navy men to become machinist's mates. Within forty days of the start of construction the first contingent of 150 students took up quarters in the first barracks building. There would soon be eight barracks, each with 250 bunks, to accommodate two thousand men. Related facilities included an administration building, messhall, galley; recreation building, canteen, reading room, and a power plant for steam and electricity. A sixty-bed hospital was soon added.
The land was owned by Ford Motor Company, which built and equipped the buildings at its own expense. The school was then leased to the navy for one dollar per year. Rear Adm. C. W Nimitz, chief of the Bureau of Navigation, accepted the facility for the navy, and Comdr. William E. Miller was put in charge of the school.
After six to eight weeks of recruit training at a naval station and another month of basic training at the Service School Training Station at Great Lakes, Illinois, the students were enrolled at the Ford facility. Students had been assigned by competitive selection. The training at the Rouge - a twelve hundred acre workshop - was normally for ninety days. During this time the students would be taught the mechanical arts by Ford instructors, but under the disciplinary command of navy officers.
Training consisted of eight hours lecture per week and thirty-two hours of shop work. Experience was obtained in the operation of machines such as lathes, drill presses, milling machines, and shapers. After one month of experience on a machine, a student would help a beginner on the same machine, thus acting as instructor. One Ford instructor could oversee ten such combinations. Training was also offered in carpentry; pattern making and foundry practice. Many trainees were prepared for Pratt-Whitney aircraft engine maintenance at the Ford engine plant, and an advanced course of three months was provided machinist's and electrical mates in diesel engine principles.
Back at the barracks, orders were given by loudspeakers - there were no general assemblies. There was, however, a recreation building where eleven hundred men could be seated for biweekly movies and Sunday chapel services. Navy cooks and bakers prepared food for two thousand. Facilities for football, baseball, volleyball, and soccer were provided. Every two weeks a thirty-six-hour leave was enjoyed. Before Pearl Harbor, 2,450 had graduated. The school continued throughout the war.
The above material is from the book "BEYOND THE MODEL T", by Ford R. Bryan (Pages 184-185)
Copyright Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MI 48202, and is used with their permission.
The U.S. Navy at the Rouge Complex
The above four photos are from the Detroit News archives.
Click here to go to the Detroit News Rouge Plant link.
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