MILLAR , Robert James
(Service number 6/507)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Lance Corporal|
|Date||8 January 1888||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Date||11 August 1914||Age||26 years 7 months|
|Address at Enlistment||1 Princes Street, Timaru|
|Previous Military Experience||Timaru City Rifles Volunteers Service - completed 3 years|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Alice MILLAR, 1 Princes Street, Timaru|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 6 inches. Weight 145 lbs. Chest measurement of 33½-36 inches. Complexion dark brown. Eyes grey. Hair dark brown. Eyes both 6/9. Hearing and colour vision good. Limbs and chest well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||Main Body|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Canterbury Infantry Battalion|
|Date||16 October 1914|
|Transport||Tahiti or Athenic|
|Embarked From||Lyttelton, Canterbury||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
|Campaigns||Egyptian; Balkan (Gallipoli, Mudros, Lemnos); Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European|
|Service Medals||1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||25 August 1919||Reason||Termination of period of engagement|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
4 June 1915 - slightly wounded at Gallipoli; remained on duty; 7 October 1915 - Robert Millar admitted to the Field Ambulance at Mudros – influenza; discharged 14 October; 26 March 1916 - sent to No. 1 Stationary Hospital at Ismalia, sick with VD. 22 April 1916 transferred to 17th General Hospital at Alexandria – gonorrhea; 23 September 1916 - wounded (2nd occasion) in France; admitted to the N.Z. General Hospital at Brockenhurst, leaving on 21 October; 12 January 1918 - admitted to New Zealand Hospital at Hornchurch – scabies; 4 February discharged to Mount Pleasant.
|Date||5 December 1954||Age||66 years|
|Place of Death||Timaru|
|Notices||Timaru Herald, 6 December 1954|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Timaru Cemetery|
|Memorial Reference||Services Section, Row 113, Plot 11|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Robert James Millar, 6/507, known as Bob, was born on 8 January 1888 at Timaru, the youngest son of Robert and Alice (née Orr) Millar, of Princes Street, Timaru. Robert Millar, senior, died in 1905, and in October 1912 the family suffered further sadness, when the elder daughter and sister, Sarah Catherine Millar, died as the result of a bicycle accident. Bob attended Timaru South School. At the 1899 school prize-giving, he was rewarded for general proficiency in Standard V, and the following year he was recognised for Standard VI drawing. Bob was surely into sports and may well have been the R. Millar who won the junior 25 yards race at the Timaru Swimming Club races in the baths in January 1905. From 1906 he featured in the Pirates Association Football teams – chosen to represent Pirates III in the trophy match on 31 May; representing Pirates in the Presidents Trophy in June; an emergency for Pirates III against Waimate Old Boys in August; representing Pirates II in 1907; and a junior emergency for Pirates at Temuka in April 1909. He played for the F team in the annual five-a-side tournament held in early October 1906. Private R. Millar fired with the Timaru City Rifles in early 1910, and scored well, helping him to a good aggregate for the trophies.
When a young man Robert Millar took up lawn bowls, playing for the Park Club with his oldest brother, John, and in that sport he left his mark over many years. He was a foundation member of the Park Club. In the 1911/1912 and subsequent seasons he turned out regularly to play in competitions against other clubs, with some good results. In March 1912, Park Club entertained a group from Sydenham, Robert Millar’s team scoring a good win. Many friendly games were played with other local clubs, Robert usually playing, and playing well. In January 1913, young Robert Millar made “a distinctly good showing as skip. . . . he put up a sterling performance”, securing a win against Kia Toa. Also in January, the Park bowlers and friends left Timaru by the 8.55am train, in a specially reserved carriage, to play a Centre match at Waimate. Park turned in a good performance to win overall. In February he was instrumental in another notable victory. He was a candidate for a rink, which had done well at the Christmas Tournament, to go to Dunedin or Oamaru at Easter. And in April, Robert was in the winning team for the challenge game for the Park Fernleafs, and in the same month Bob and his brother Jack reached the final of their club doubles. The final was played a week later, starting at 4 pm and the last head being played with a torchlight. The game was a hard and brilliant one, the “utmost good feeling” prevailing, and the Millar brothers running out the winners. Millar continued to play his part in several good results for Park and seemed a favourite. “R. Millar is a good skip, and played with sound judgment, some of his drawing was a treat to witness,” reported the Timaru Herald of 15 November 1913. He played in the 1913 Christmas Tournament, a tournament which attracted entries from throughout the South Island.
Come August 1914 and war had been declared. Bob was one of many keen and determined applicants at the Drill Shed on 11 August 1914. He was not one of those rejected, mostly for defects to the teeth and one or two on account of height; he passed the medical exanimation and was sworn in. The successful applicants were liable to be called up at any moment, and it was quite probable that they would leave Timaru in a matter of days for the central camp at Christchurch as part of the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment's quota. Twenty-six years 7 months old, Robert James Millar and his brother William David Millar were among the first to enlist, doing so on 11 August 1914. Robert was a grocer’s assistant, single, Presbyterian, and living at home. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed 145 pounds, had a chest measurement of 33½-36 inches. His complexion and hair were dark brown, his eyes grey. While his hearing and colour vision were both good, his sight measured 6/9 in both eyes. His heart, lungs, limbs, chest and teeth were all good, and he was free of diseases and defects. Robert nominated his mother as next-of-kin - Mrs Alice Millar, 1 Princes Street, Timaru. He had, indeed, completed three years with the Timaru City Rifles Volunteers.
The Park Bowling Club members “rallied in large numbers to take leave of their club mate, R. J. Millar,” who was leaving for the front. All the speakers were sorry to part with Bob, but glad that “he was placing the call of duty first.” Several toasts were proposed – “The King”, “Our Guest”, the Army and Navy, his brother, J. A. Millar, and others. All testified to the popularity of their guest, who was presented with a case of Loewe pipes. Mr Millar thanked members for their present and their good fellowship. “He trusted his service would be of benefit to the present and future generations in the form of lasting peace.” The happy gathering closed with the singing of the “National Anthem” and “Auld Lang Syne”. A few days later Bob Millar and his brother Willie were confirmed as privates in B Company (2nd South Canterbury Regiment). Bob was among those who left under Captain Grant on 17 August, after a very enthusiastic send-off, being wished God speed and a safe return, and the playing of the National Anthem. Robert and William embarked together, with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the Main Body, on 16 October 1914 at Lyttelton, destined for Suez, Egypt, reaching there in December.
On 12 April 1915 he embarked at Alexandria for the Dardanelles. He was slightly wounded on 4 June 1915 at Gallipoli, bur remained on duty. He was transferred to the NZ Divisional Engineers on 22 July, rejoining his Battalion two weeks later. On 7 October 1915 Robert Millar was admitted to the Field Ambulance at Mudros, with influenza. He was discharged a week later and rejoined his unit. Captain A. F. Boys, in a letter written to his wife in Timaru from Lemnos on 13 October 1915, mentioned that he had gone to the main camp that morning and met, with others, Bobby Miller (this may well have been Robert, 6/507). “I had a long yarn to Geo. Johnstone and Bob Miller to-day; they will soon be in my company.” He disembarked at Alexandria on 30 December 1915. On 26 March 1916 he was sent to the No. 1Stationary Hospital at Ismalia, sick with VD, and on 22 April transferred to the 17th General Hospital at Alexandria. He was discharged to duty at Tel-el-Kebir and joined his battalion on 21 June. Three months later he embarked on the hospital Ship for Marseilles and was attached to Strength with the NZ Infantry. Wounded in action, for a second time, on 23 September 1916 in France, he embarked at Rouen on the Hospital Ship “Maheno” for England where he was admitted to the N.Z. General Hospital at Brockenhurst, leaving there on 21 October. In November 1916 he was detached to the Base Post Office in London, and in February 1917 was taken on Strength from there at the NZ Command Depot. Movements continued between Base Post Offices - Codford and Mount Pleasant and London. Private Millar was transferred to Headquarters in London with the rank of sapper in September 1917, and the following month appointed lance corporal. Robert was admitted to the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 12 January 1918, suffering from scabies, and discharged to Mount Pleasant on 4 February.
Bob and five other club members, who were on active service, were acknowledged at the annual meeting of the Park Bowling Club in July 1917. He and two others had by then been wounded. Bob returned to New Zealand aboard the “Chupra”, one of 732 soldiers who arrived at Lyttelton on 28 July 1919. The “Chupra” left Tilbury on 8 June, and went by Port Said and Colombo. About half way across the Indian Ocean the transport ran into a monsoon, all on board having a fairly bad time for three days. “They are the most contented and best behaved lot of men I ever had anything to do with,” said the officer commanding the troops on board. . . . The vessel is most unsuited for a troopship as there is practically no deck, but-the men made the most of their time and contrived to get a good deal of pleasure out of the voyage." There was no sickness on board;and the food was stated to have been good from London to Port Said, and from Colombo:to New Zealand, but between Port Said and Colombo the meat was affected by the heat, and the men could not eat it. Apart from this the men had no complaints to make except that they did not like the way they were cooped up, witli practically no opportunity of getting any exercise. He had been appointed to duty on the “Chupra” in May, marched out to Sling and embarked on 8 June. In what must be close to a record, he gave a total of 5 years and 15 days of service, all but 71 days overseas, serving from 11 August 1914 until 25 August 1919 when he was discharged. He saw action at Gallipoli, in Egypt and in Western Europe. Lance Corporal R. J. Millar was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Post war Bob was employed as a shop assistant and resumed his bowling with the Park Club on his return. He was especially welcomed at the opening of the season at the Timaru Park Club on 16 October 1919. He was right back into the play – representing his club, reaching finals, having some good wins, enjoying friendly exchanges, playing in the Christmas tournaments (in rinks and pairs and in the singles, an innovation in 1923). He also took on administrative roles, being elected to the friendly games committee at the club’s annual meeting in 1922, and again in 1923, taking on also the position of secretary and treasurer. In the 1922/23 season he and his partner won the club’s handicap doubles. Both Bob and his brother Jack were selected to represent South Canterbury against Christchurch in 1923. Bob skipped the Park pair in the Champion of Champion event in February 1924. At the club’s prize giving in April, he was presented with the prize for second in the two-bowl doubles. Elected secretary and treasurer again in 1924, he was voted an honorarium of seven guineas. A challenge against West End for the Bristol Cup in December 1924 was unsuccessful, Robert Millar’s team losing and John Millar’s team drawing. In February 1925 Bob was selected as a skip for the annual representative match between South Canterbury and North Otago. Later in the month he played for the Timaru town clubs in a match against a travelling Otago team, and in March he represented his club in the Champion of Champion pairs. A highlight of Bob’s bowling career would surely have been selection to play for South Canterbury against a touring party of Victorian bowlers on 17 February 1928. The games were played on the hottest day of the year in Timaru – 94 degrees fahrenheit (over 34 celsius). The icing on the cake was a decisive victory for the home side with wins in all five matches. The season closed with Park playing Temuka in the final of the four-rink championship. Although the teams in which both Bob and his brother Jack were playing secured wins, Park lost 79-89 overall. The Temuka president thanked the Park Club “for the sportsmanlike way in which they had played that day”.
During July, August and September 1926, and again in July and August 1927, R. Millar took part in the weekly shoots of the Timaru Miniature Rifles Club, often qualifying for shoot-offs for various trophies. Bob married Bertha Sophia Nicholson in 1928. They lived in Timaru, Bob employed as a shop assistant. He enlisted again for World War I, at the age of 52 years, serving from 10 January 1942 until 8 April 1944, with service number 806785. This time his next-of-kin was his wife, and he had four children under the age of sixteen. He had had an operation on the tendon in his right hand and hearing was reduced in the left ear. Otherwise he was in good condition. Much of that time was spent as a cook in Christchurch.
Bob Millar died on 5 December 1954 at Timaru, aged 66 years, and was buried in the Services Section of Timaru Cemetery. Members of the Park Bowling Club turned out to honour him at his funeral, as did the South Canterbury RSA members. He was survived by Bertha, two daughters and three sons. He was a brother of William David Millar who died of wounds in 1915 at Gallipoli, and of Letitia Annie Millar who served in the Nursing Corps in World War I.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [16 March 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5922 0080798) [02 September 2014]; TDC headstone image (Timaru Cemetery) [16 March 2014]; Timaru Herald, 22 December 1899, 14 December 1900, 31 January 1905, 31 May 1906, 12 June 1906, 8 August 1906, 5 October 1906, 31 July 1907, 27 April 1909, 2 February 1910, 18 November 1911, 29 January 1912, 19 February 1912, 14, 18 & 21 March 1912, 7 October 1912, 22, 25 & 29 January, 1913, 1, 8, 14, 20 & 21 February 1913, 15 March 1913, 5, 12, 19 & 20 April 1913, 25 & 28 October 1913, 4, 15, 20 & 21 November 1913, 16, 20 & 26 December 1913, 21 & 21 February 1914, 12, 15 & 18 August 1914, 10 October 1916, 23 July 1917, 7 & 29 July 1919, 17 October 1919, 5 December 1919, 23 January 1920, 25 February 1920, 10 March 1920, 30 November 1920, 27 December 1920, 14 & 19 January 1921, 8 & 21 December 1921, 22 January 1922, 3, 7 13 & 25 February 1922, 25 July 1922, 21 October 1922, 11 November 1922, 18 & 27 December 1922, 2 & 13 February 1923, 2 & 3 August 1923, 23 October 1923, 2, 8 & 9 November 1923, 3, 14, 18, 26 & 29 December 1923, 23 January 1924, 27 February 1924, 11 April 1924, 9 August 1924, 30 October 1924, 10 & 27 November 1924, 5, 15, 17, 27 & 30 December 1924, 9, 12 & 24 January 1925, 13 & 23 February 1925, 9 March 1925, 6, 9 & 19 November 1925, 1, 10, 14, 16 & 28 December 1925, 8 & 11 January 1926, 27 July 1926, 2, 23 & 30 August 1926, 6 & 28 September 1926, , 10, 17 & 23 November 1926, 20 December 1926, 5, 14 & 18 January 1927, 7, 10, 12, 19 & 28 February 1927, 16 & 21 March 1927, 6 & 20 July 1927, 2 & 18 August 1927, 3, 7, 9, 14, 24, 25 & 28 November 1927, 8, 13 & 15 December 1927, 6, 12, 14, 16 & 26 January 1928, 18 February 1928, 23 & 26 March 1928, 26 October 1928, 1, 8 & 29 November 1928, 14, 28 & 29 December 1928, Ashburton Guardian, 14 August 1914, Press, 21 August 1914, Sun, 5 September 1914, Otago Daily Times, 10 October 1916, New Zealand Times, 4 July 1919 (Papers Past) [16 March 2014; 06 August 2014; 01 & 02 September 2014; 13, 19 & 25 March 2020]; Timaru Herald, 06 & 07 December 1954 (Timaru District Library) [02 September 2014]; School Admission Registers (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [March 2014; 01 September 2014]; NZ Birth Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [March 2014; 01 September 2014]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [01 September 2014]
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Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
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