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He really loved Beethoven!

The famed Australian cricketer (and much else) Keith Miller has just died aged 84. While idling through some obit-ing about this remarkable man, I came across this amazing throwaway paragraph, seized upon by Tim Blair and included in the original posting, but originally in a comment, here:

After what he went through during the war, cricket always remained just a game to him. He flew Mosquito night fighters. A lifelong love of Beethoven saw him leave his group during a raid over Germany and fly a further 50 miles to Bonn, where he flew low, at some risk, over the city – just to see the place where his hero was born…

I had no idea that Keith Miller cared anything for such things as Beethoven, let alone that he cared that much. (And I am guessing that he did not endanger anyone else’s life besides his own, right? Perry?)

It is truly amazing how much new stuff you learn about people when they die.

11 comments to He really loved Beethoven!

  • 1327

    DH Mosquito’s had a crew of 2 so technically he was risking someone elses life. But then again it was was probably such a risky occuption that one more little risk like this probably didn’t change the overall odds that much.

    If anyone ever gets the chance read the books that a number of the intruder Mosquito crews wrote about their adventures they contain some amazing stories. Sadly most of the books were written in the 1950’s and 60’s and are quite hard get hold of now.

  • 1327 is correct, so I hope his comrade shared his love for Beethoven 🙂

  • John

    Michael Parkinson has said that Miller was once asked about the stresses of first class cricket to which he laughed and replied that there was no stress, “stress is a Messerschmitt up your arse, that’s stress.”

    Life for him can’t have been entirely carefree. He and his wife divorced when he was 80 and it was reported he remained estranged from his sons.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    This one’s available “Terror in the Starboard Seat” at:


  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nice post, Brian. What a man. A gentleman who used to live in my folks’ village — he died about three years ago — was a tremendous musician and a former Pathfinder pilot on heavy bombers. A lot of RAF folk were very musical. Maybe the desire to fly a very fast plane appeals to the same psychology, who knows?

    The late Brian Johnson, the great cricket commentator, also had a distinguished military career. Len Hutton was injured in the war and had to adapt his batting technique as a result.

    Makes the current bunch of spoiled footballers seem rather pathetic, doesn’t it?

  • 1327

    One good book on this subject is Lewis Brandon’s “Night Flyer”. He was an actor before becoming the navigator/radar operator in intruder and nightfighter Mosquitos. He died earlier this year but did a number of interviews for the Discovery Channel in his last couple of years. In both his book and his TV appearances he comes across as a modest but very brave gentleman.

  • Seeing as some of humanity, like George Sanders for e.g., are ‘Leaving because I am bored’, the Bach-loving facts are mere pre-life-after-death experience!

  • I’ll add one more to Jonathan’s list – Wilson Harrell, one of my business heroes.

    He was a pilot during WWII and was shot down over France by the Luftwaffe. Badly burned and buried day after day in a French field by the underground with only a straw to breathe through, he survived the kind of terror that most of us in our comfortable lives can only imagine.

    He went on to found many businesses and write a book in which he speculated that there was such an explosion of entrepreneurship after the war because so many people had faced terror and overcome it. Suddenly, the daily terrors of starting and running a business became tolerable.

  • Harry Tuttle

    Given that the guy in the other seat was his Navigator, its pretty clear that he wanted to go, otherwise he’d have just steered him home.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Schroeder lives!!

    (With apologies to Charlie Schultz)

  • David Tribe

    My dear 84 year old father (George) played with Keith. He just told me a bunch of stories about the Great Man.
    Some I can’t repeat but this one I will.
    The occasion was John Ikin’s benefit match against the Australians in 1948. Cricket buffs can fill in or correct me if the minor details are wrong.
    Bradman never threw his wicket and always played to win, but Miller wasn’t like that at all.
    When Ikin was on 90 in his benefit match Bradman wanted to take the new ball. Keith Miller threw the ball back to the Don in disgust saying “Didn’t you know he was a Rat of Tubruk!”
    Now there’s an Ozzie Great for you, of John Landy Stature. David Tribe