ANZAC Centenary 2014-2018: Sharing Victoria's Stories

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WWI Stories – Robert Marr Millar


Robert Millar shares the story of his grandfather, Robert Marr Millar.

Robert Marr Millar was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 15 September 1860. Despite being listed on the manifest of the HMAT Orvieto as aged 36, he was in fact aged 54 when the ship sailed in 1914. This makes him the oldest man on board, with the exception of the doctor Lieutenant Colonel Marshall.

At the outbreak of war, my grandfather was the district finance officer at Anglesea Barracks in Hobart. He immediately volunteered. He had previously served in the 1870s with the Black Watch Regiment in Britain for 12 years, serving in Egypt and the Soudan.

Capt-Robert-Marr-Millar-Egypt-Robert emigrated to Tasmania, where he spent eight years in the Tasmanian Permanent Artillery, six years in the district headquarters staff and 11 years as the district paymaster.

He served in the base camp in Egypt and was promoted to the rank of Major. In August 1916, Robert returned to Hobart where he resumed his civilian appointment as district paymaster.

I was born just four months before grandfather passed away, so I have no recollection of him other than the stories told by my father.

Grandfather is remembered as a conscientious, sober, well-mannered man who enjoyed the mateship and camaraderie of service life. He was a religious man who held strong family values and had 11 children with his wife, Emily Jane.

Robert was the head of a Tasmanian family with an outstanding military record. Both his eldest sons also served in the First AIF. One of these sons together with two younger boys (one of which was my father Malcolm Alexander) also served with the Second AIF.