MILLAR , Robert James
(Service number 58558)

First Rank Private Last Rank Corporal


Date 4 February 1897 Place of Birth Orari Gorge (Geraldine)

Enlistment Information

Date 17 April 1917 Age 20 years 2 months
Address at Enlistment High Street, Waimate
Occupation Teamster
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status
Next of Kin Mrs Sarah Caroline MILLAR (mother), High Street, Waimate
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 8 inches. Weight 154 lbs. Chest measurement 33-36 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair fair. Eyes - right 6/18, left 9/18. Hearing and colour vision normal. Limbs and chest well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated (left arm). Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Class A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 29th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company
Date 15 August 1917
Transport Ruahine
Embarked From Wellington Destination Glasgow, Scotland
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 23 September 1919 Reason Termination of period of engagement

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

12-22 November 1917 - at Tidworth Hospital. 5 April 1918 - wounded in face & right knee; 8 April admitted to NZ Field Ambulance; 10 April 1918 admitted to Walton-on-Thames Hospital. 6 May 1918 transferred to Convalescent Hospital at Hornbrook; 13 May left Hornchurch; 28 May reported to Codford.

Post-war Occupations

Storeman (General Merchant's)


Date 18 June 1944 Age 47 years
Place of Death Masterton
Memorial or Cemetery Archer Street Cemetery, Masterton
Memorial Reference Returned Servicemen Section, Block C/1, Row 2, Plot RJM
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Robert James Millar, 58558, was the second son of Alexander and Caroline Sarah (née Bell) Millar, late of Pareora, then of Waimate, later of Pirinoa. Born on 4 February 1897 at Orari Gorge, he was baptised on 6 April following at the Geraldine Presbyterian Church. Robert was educated at Anama, Westerfield and Lismore schools in the Ashburton district, and at Pareora West schools, where the family lived for some time, and at Southburn school. Robert left school at 14 and went out to work.

He enlisted on 17 April 1917 at Timaru, aged 20 years 2 months, and was one of 505 men drawn in the ballot to complete South Canterbury's quota of the 31st Reinforcements. At the time he was single, living at home with his mother and working as a teamster at Waimate. It was his mother whom he nominated as next-of-kin - Mrs Sarah Caroline Millar, High Street, Waimate. Of Presbyterian allegiance, he had a fair complexion, grey eyes and fair hair. He passed the medical examination and was classed A. Standing at 5 feet 8 inches, weighing 154 pounds, amd with a chest measurement of 33-36 inches, he had normal hearing and colour vision, but not such good sight – right eye 6/18, left eye 9/18. His limbs and chest were well formed, his joints good, and his heart and lungs normal. He was free of all diseases and defects, and had been vaccinated.

Robert left for camp on 25 June 1917, with a good number of South Canterbury comrades. Private R. J. Millar embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment of the 29th Reinforcements per Troopship No. 92, the “Ruahine”, on 15 August 1917 at Wellington, destined for Glasgow, Scotland. Having disembarked at Glasgow on 2 October, he marched into Sling the next day from the 29th Reinforcements. From there he was sent to Tidworth Hospital on 12 November, and, leaving there on 22 November, he proceeded overseas.

Casualty List No. 834, published in the newspaper on 22 April 1918, listed Robert James Millar, 58558 (Waimate), among the wounded who had been admitted to hospital. When Mrs A. Millar was advised of this, she and her husband had already moved away from Waimate, to Pirinoa, where Robert settled on return. On 5 April 1918 in France, he was wounded in the face and the right knee. He was admitted to the New Zealand Field Ambulance on 8 April, and on 10 April 1918 he was admitted to Walton-on-Thames Hospital. On 6 May 1918 he was transferred to the Convalescent Hospital at Hornbrook. A week later he left Hornchurch and subsequently reported to Codford. It was 5 September when he marched into Sling again, leaving for overseas on 16 November and joining his battalion. In late December 1918 in the Field he was appointed lance corporal and in mid January 1919 promoted to the rank of corporal. Back at Sling in May-June 1919, Millar was reprimanded for absence without leave for several days and forfeited 10 days pay.

Corporal Millar embarked per the "Geissen" at Plymouth on 23 June 1919 for his return to New Zealand. The "Giessen" was due at Wellington on August 16, 1919. On arrival in New Zealand he was granted 28 days leave. By the time of discharge – 23 September 1919 on the termination of his period of engagement - he had completed 2 years 122 days of duty. Corporal R. J. Millar was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. On 30 May 1918 he confirmed that he had previously made a Will which was deposited with The Public Trustee, Wellington.

Robert enlisted also for World War II, on 10 March 1943. He was living in Masterton, where he had been for some years, and working as a storeman for a general merchant by whom he had been employed for 20 years. His next-of-kin was now his wife Eileen; he had four children under 16 years of age, and his main hobby was gardening. He had married Eileen Isobel Jackson on 16 December 1925 at Masterton. They had six children. Robert's fronting up for WWII is both a little surprising and admirable, given that he had rheumatic fever in 1911 (which was not disclosed on enlistment for the first war), and had had a nervous breakdown in 1938. He also suffered with catarrh periodically, he had a successful hernia operation in 1940, and his vision was now defective. Despite poor eyesight recorded in his medical examination for World War I, he hd been deemed Class A.

Robert died not long after, on 18 April 1944 at Masterton, aged 47 years. He is buried in a servicemen’s plot in the Masterton Archer Street Cemetery, where his mother had been buried in 1929 and his wife was buried in 1960. He was next-of-kin for his brother Leonard William Millar who served with the Australian Imperial Force and was killed in action in 1915 at Gallipoli. Robert was the beneficiary of the whole of Leonard's property and effects.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [16 March 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5549 0080799) [02 September 2014]; Timaru Herald, 18 April 1917, 9 May 1917, 25 June 1917, 22 & 23 April 1918, 25 July 1919, New Zealand Times, 22 April 1918 (Papers Past) [16 March 2014; 01 & 02 September 2014; 16 March 2020]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs historical records) [22 November 2013]; Archer Street Cemetery burial records (Masterton District Council [01 September 2014]; Masterton Cemetery headstone transcriptions (South Canterbury Branch NZSG Cemetery Records microfiches) [04 September 2014]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [01 September 2014]; Geraldine Presbyterian Church Baptism record (South Canterbury Museum) [03 September 2017]; School Admission Records (South Canterbury Branch & Ashburton Branch NZSG) [November 2013; 01 September 2014]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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