MAURIE Miles was one of Albury’s best-known volunteers when it came to helping war veterans and their families.
Although he did not fight overseas as a soldier himself, he did have a close encounter with fanatical Japanese prisoners of war at Cowra in 1944.
He was just an 18-year-old infantry rookie when he helped round up the POWs and got bashed on the head with a baseball bat by one of them.
Mr Miles died in Albury last week after living all his 87 years in Albury except for three years’ army service.
Several of his schoolboy mates were killed in World War II, and he always regretted he hadn’t followed his own soldier brothers overseas.
His son, Mal, said the bat incident badly injured his father but he stayed on in the army until 1947 and after his return to civilian was a part-time soldier in the 8/13th Victoria Mounted Rifles unit in Albury for many years.
Mr Miles and his wife, Heather, raised three sons, Dennis, Mal and Scott.
Mrs Miles, her sons, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren survive him.
He worked for the Commonwealth Department of Works for some years, then as a popular groundsman at Albury High School, where he helped start an army cadet unit.
Mr Miles was born in Albury in 1926, only 14 months after the war memorial was unveiled just up the road from the family home in Dight Street.
His father was Billy Miles “the whistling postman” and his grandfather a warder at the Albury jail.
“When dad came back from the war he went into carpentry and building and worked on demolishing the same jail,” Mal Miles said.
In 2007, Mr Miles recalled how as a young lad he and his brothers often helped the organisers prepare the war memorial and surrounds for the Anzac Day services, the job he continued to do with his RSL mate the late John Neale into the 21st century.
Picking up a broom and brush wasn’t the same as holding a rifle, but he saw it as just a different type of service to his country and comrades and was proud to do so.
The funeral will be at St David’s Church on Friday at 11am.