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Australian Transport Service (ATS) button

Date: c 1940
Dimensions:
Overall: 16 mm (16 mm)
Medium: brass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from James R Miller
Object Name: Button
Object No: 00045779

User Terms

    SignificanceFor reference to the ATS, see Lunney and Finch, Forbidden Fleet.
    HistoryJames Douglas Miller (1896-1965) was an Australian Master Mariner who had an eventful career at sea for more than 50 years. Born in Manly, Sydney on 16 April 1896, he went to sea at the age of 12. He joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1914, signing on for five years. His certificate of service shows that he served on the 'Cerberus', the 'Psyche' which patrolled in South East Asian waters, and 'Una' which spent the last part of the war in the Bismarck Archipelago. In 1919 Miller left the RAN and joined the British India Company as a junior officer in the India service. He told his son that he was the first 'colonial' to be accepted by the company as an officer. He passed his Master's Certificate in 1924. The Certificate was among the earliest to be issued by the Commonwealth of Australia, bearing the number 8. Mariners' certificates were issued by the British Board of Trade prior to then. Miller left the BI company in 1929 and returned to Australia where he worked as a shearer's cook until he joined R W Miller as master, running coal from Newcastle to Melbourne, making 36 return trips a year.

    At the outbreak of World War II he left Millers and joined the 'Reynella' a captured Italian liner, as Chief Officer, to sail to England. Returning to Australia in 1941/42 he joined the US Army Transport Service (ATS) who were looking for shipmasters with pilotage exemptions. By this time he had exemptions for Newcastle, Sydney, Port Phillip and Melbourne. In 1942 he gained exemption for Rockhampton. The ATS provided supply and other support to US Army operations in the Pacific, supplying General MacArthur's push from Australia through Papua and New Guinea to the Philippines. Australians and New Zealanders comprised most of the crews aboard ATS vessels serving under the US Flag. In 1942 the fleet of larger ships in which Miller apparently served was integrated into the Water Division of the Army Transportation Corps, but generally continued to be known as the ATS. He was appointed to the rank of Colonel. He served in the 'Cecil G Sellers', 'Edward Chambers', 'International', and 'City of Houston'. On taking a cargo of aviation fuel to Shanghai at the end of the war, Miller caught smallpox and was flown back to Australia. He did not go back to sea for nine years, and lived on the North Coast of New South Wales, but then moved to Cairns and went back to sea on bulk sugar carriers. He retired at the age of 65, about 1961, and died in 1965.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Australian Transport Service (ATS) button

    Collection title: James R Miller Collection

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