Robert Hugh McMillan

From auditor to soldier.

Robert Hugh McMillan was from Evans Flat, Otago and joined the Audit Department in September 1910. By the outbreak of WW1, he had attained the position of Audit Examiner, Class VII.

Robert joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 10 August 1914, aged 21. On 15 August 1914, he was sent to Samoa with the Samoan Advance Party. In Samoa, he was hospitalised for three weeks with jaundice.

Robert resigned from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on his return to New Zealand in April 1915. However, he rejoined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in September 1915 and was sent to Alexandria in December 1915 with the Medical Corps, Field Ambulance.

He was based in Alexandria until February 1916, when he was sent to France. In France, Robert served with Number 1 Field Ambulance Service. He was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal in December 1917, and promoted to Corporal in October 1918.

Robert was promoted to Sergeant on 28 November 1918 and, at about that time, was sent to the United Kingdom for training at a theological college. He returned to New Zealand in March 1919.

During his service with the Field Ambulance, Robert contracted a serious illness. His military file does not cover the nature of the illness, but it could have been tuberculosis, one of the more common diseases that afflicted those who served on the Western Front.

Robert was discharged from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 28 April 1920. The reason given on the discharge papers was “No longer fit for War Service on account of illness contracted on active service.” He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

Robert died at Cashmere Military Sanatorium in Christchurch on 15 June 1920. It is not stated in his military records, but it is likely that, on return to New Zealand, he was admitted directly to the Sanatorium. It was one of several military hospitals that specialised in the care of returned soldiers suffering from tuberculosis.

We note that Robert died of his illness less than two months after he was discharged from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force for medical reasons. The Roll of Honour Board has asterisks beside the names of only those men who died “while on active service.”