John 'Dusty' Millar
A war hero thought to be one of the last surviving members of an elite special forces unit has died at home, aged 97.
John ‘Dusty’ Miller was a member of the Chindits, who served in horrific conditions in Burma and India in 1943 and 1944.
They specialized in guerrilla warfare and fought deep behind Japanese lines, their mission was to disrupt communications and supply routes fueling the enemy war effort.
They were often underfed and weakened by diseases such as malaria and dysentery and their operations were marked by prolonged marches through extremely difficult terrain.
Mr Miller, who lived in Smallbridge, was awarded The Burma Star for his service in The Burma Campaign during the Second World War.
Originally from Liverpool, he joined the Lancashire Fusiliers and completed his training in 1939 at Bury.
He was then posted to India, where he later joined up with the Chindits, whose official name was the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade.
The force initially numbered 3,000 and was made of up British troops, Gurkhas and members of the Burmese Rifles, although their numbers were later bolstered.
They suffered heavy casualties with 1,396 killed and 2,434 wounded, which in 1944 led army commanders to transform the unit into an Airborne Division in India.
Mr Miller’s friend David Nugent said that he thought Mr Miller may have been the last surviving Chindit, although the Ministry of Defence said they were unable to confirm this.
Mr Nugent said: “The Chindits were the original SAS.
“He was only a young fella when he joined the Lancashire Fusiliers, then he got posted to Burma.
“He came through it clear, with just a bit of malnutrition. He was very fortunate to not get any physical injuries, a lot of his friends died.”
The Chindits suffered heavy casualties during World War Two, and were the 'original SAS'
He added: “John was definitely a hero, but he never admitted it – he was a very independent person.”
Mr Miller will be given a military funeral attended by members of Lancashire Fusiliers at Bury.
Coun Alan McCarthy, Rochdale council’s lead member for armed forces, said: “It is important that we pay tribute and recognize the sacrifices our armed service personnel have made, past present and future, and be forever humbled for our present day freedom that we enjoy today.
“Our armed forces personnel are prepared to lay down their lives to protect us, we as a nation should hold them in the highest esteem and afford them the respect that is duly warranted.”
Mr Miller died at his home on Wednesday, December 30.
Mr Miller's funeral was held on Thursday 21 January 2016 at 2pm at Rochdale Cemetery.