Miles was born at Oldham, Lancashire, on Saturday 13th October 1883, eldest child of Henry Miles Radcliffe, JP, and High Sheriff for Westmorland, and Emil Bertha Radcliffe, of Werneth Park, Oldham and Summerlands, Kendall, grandson of John Platt, Member of Parliament for Oldham. He had younger siblings, Claude and Glewndoline. Miles was educated at Cheam Preparatory School followed by Harrow School from 1897 to 1901 as a member of Elmfield then passed into RMC Sandhurst.
In 1913 Miles married Dorothy Kathleen Radcliffe (née Duffin), of The Laurels, Hull Road, York, and they had a son, Miles Claude, born on Tuesday 13th January 1914 who suffered from infantile paralysis. Miles was a good horseman and enjoyed polo, hunting and point-to-point races.
Miles was gazetted on Wednesday 13th January 1904, promoted to Lieutenant in August 1906 and Captain on Thursday 29th October 1914.
He served in South Africa with the Mounted Infantry from 1906 to 1907.
At the outbreak of war Miles was detailed to assist and train the first of the service battalions before going to the front on Monday 26th October 1914 to join the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers as their Machine Gun Officer. He arrived whilst they were in the Herlies sector. The Battalion left the trenches on Sunday 1st November and marched to billets in Rue du Baquerot that came under heavy shellfire so they moved to La Flinque. Throughout the next day Miles and his men stood to arms in readiness to support the 23rd Gurkhas as their line was reported to have broken. During the afternoon Miles was ordered into the line with the machine guns to support the 2nd Gurkhas as they sought to retake the lost trenches. Miles, and the rest of the Battalion, remained in the line until Thursday 5th when the 9th Bhopals arrived to relieve them.
After marching to Les Lobes for some rest on Saturday 7th, Miles marched a further thirteen miles to billets in Steenwerck for forty-eight hours of rest. At 9.00am on Tuesday 10th he marched from the village to Bailleul, on to Loker and to the dreamy spires of Ypres. Miles was ordered along the Menin Road and into reserve nearly a mile east of Hooge. Throughout Wednesday 11th, as the First Battle of Ypres was at its height, he came under extremely heavy shellfire at 8.00am. The Prussian Guard had made their final and major attack to break through to Ypres that was faltering. Miles and his machine guns were ordered to go forward to support the Battalion as they began a counter-attack at 8.30am that moved the British line forward. He halted on a line east of Herenthage Château where he remained until the next morning. At 6.30am the German infantry were spotted moving forward in superior numbers that forced the Battalion to retire to their original firing line. The enemy penetrated the stables next to the Château and the Battalion sent a party in to clear them out. Although they were successful in ejecting them from the Château they were too well placed in the stables. Whilst the raid was taking place a raid by the Germans was made on the Battalion line and they captured 2nd Lieutenant Judge and a number of men, some of whom later were able to escape.
For Miles and the Battalion the situation quietened down and they spent their time improving the trenches and digging new ones whilst under spasmodic shelling.
Miles was relieved on Sunday 15th and was sent into reserve where he remained until marching to Zillebeke to take the line as the Battalion relieved the West Kent Regiment for twenty-four hours. A French Battalion arrived late the next day to relieve them, then followed a long march through Ypres to Vlamertinghe, south to Reninghelst and finally to billets in Westouter, arriving on Friday 20th. Miles and his men got some much-needed rest before cleaning themselves up. The Battalion had a partial refit before moving to billets in Loker on Friday 27th.
A short march along country lanes on Monday 30th November took Miles to the trenches in front of Kemmel for a four-day tour of duty. It was a much quieter sector than Hooge although the Salient had settled down considerably. When Miles returned to his billet he was greeted by seven new officers (Major Dick, Captains Hutchinson, Northey and Russell, Lieutenants Bolton and Ellington (RAMC) and 2nd Lieutenant Norman) who arrived together with a draft of NCOs and men. 2nd Lieutenant Whitton arrived on Sunday 6th December with a further ninety-five men.
Miles returned to the trenches at Kemmel late on Sunday 6th that had deteriorated in the bad weather so considerable work was needed to make them more usable. During the night of Tuesday 8th the Lincolnshire Regiment, who were next to them in the front line, attacked the enemy, whilst Miles and his guns supported them. Late on Wednesday 9th Miles returned to Loker to be greeted by 2nd Lieutenants Drummond and Laird who brought four hundred and sixty NCOs and men to bring the Battalion up to strength. It was, therefore, quite a task to sort the new men into the respective companies and assimilate them. They too had to be given instruction on what to do and how to keep safe in the trenches before going in the front line.
The Battalion relieved the Honourable Artillery Company early on Saturday 12th and shortly afterwards when Miles was returning to a dugout he was shot through the heart by a sniper.
One of his fellow officers wrote: “We are all most sorry about your son; he had done extremely well, and was a very good and gallant officer.”
Miles’ death was reported on Friday 18th December 1914 in ‘The Newcastle Daily Journal’.
Miles left an estate of £8,807 4s 10d (approximately £737,498.00 today).
Sadly, after some unfortunate allegations made against Kathleen Radcliffe of unproven acts of ‘an immoral nature’, a dispute arose with the War Office that resulted in her widow’s pension removed, despite her appeal for assistance with her ‘crippled’ child.
Miles’ grave is marked ‘Known to be buried in this cemetery’ and his personal gravestone inscription reads: “Peace, Perfect Peace’.
In St Thomas’ Church, Crosscrake, a brass memorial was placed in Miles’ memory with the inscription: “In loving memory of Captain Miles Radcliffe, 2nd Battalion Border Regiment, killed in action near Ypres Belgium on Dec. 12th 1914 aged 31. Be thou faithful unto death and it will give you a crown of life.”
Six of his cousins died during the war:
Major Samuel Radcliffe, DSO, died on Friday 30th August 1918 and is buried in Kantara War Cemetery, Egypt;
Driver Frank Radcliffe, who served with the British then the French Red Cross, died on Saturday 15th June 1918;
Captain Henry Platt died on Monday 15th May 1916 and is buried in Brandhoek Military Cemetery;
Captain Lionel Platt died on Friday 13th April 1917 and is buried in Brown’s Copse Cemetery, Rœux;
Lieutenant John Platt died on Monday 27th March 1916 and is buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground;
Captain Edmund Wellesley died on Sunday 30th April 1916 and is buried in La Brique Cemetery No 2;
In addition, Sub-Lieutenant Maurice Platt died on Wednesday 26th November 1918 and is buried in Oldham (Chadderton) Cemetery.