The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1184) Private Roy Alexander McMillan, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.8
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 8 January 2018
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Charis May, the story for this day was on (1184) Private Roy Alexander McMillan, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1184 Private Roy Alexander McMillan, 3rd Battalion, AIF
KIA 21 May 1915

Story delivered 8 January 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Roy Alexander McMillan.

Roy McMillan was born in 1893 in Eugowra, New South Wales, to Archie and Mary McMillan. His father came from a large family that ran a well-known property, “Rosebank”, not far from Eugowra. Like most of his extended family, Roy became a farmer after attending the local public school.

Roy McMillan enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914. He was posted to A Company of the 3rd Battalion, and after a period of training in Australia left for active service overseas with the first contingent. He trained in Egypt for several weeks before leaving for Gallipoli.

The 3rd Battalion began landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula at 5.30 am, a short time after the covering party. The men came ashore under heavy Turkish fire, the last of them arriving at 8.30 in the morning. From the beach, they advanced to the heights, capturing some Turkish positions and defending their hard-won gains through the night.

Little is known of Private McMillan’s experiences in those hectic first days of Gallipoli. He wrote a postcard to his father Archie in Australia on 19 May. In a few short sentences on “an ordinary rough piece of cardboard, brown on one side and white on the other, and apparently broken off a cardboard box” he said: “I am well, and so is Roy Douglas [another Eugowra boy]. The work here is warm and trying, but our boys are doing it cheerfully.” Thinking writing paper must be scarce on Gallipoli, Archie McMillan was careful to include a blank sheet of paper and an envelope in every subsequent letter he sent, and encouraged others to do the same.

Archie McMillan never received a letter written on the spare paper he sent to his son. In June he received word that Roy had been wounded. By September Archie McMillan had still received no further news, and did not know if Roy had recovered or not. His enquiries led to Private McMillan being posted as “wounded and missing” for another several months while enquiries were made as to his fate.

On 5 June 1916, a year after the McMillan family had been informed Roy was missing, a court of inquiry determined that he had been killed in action on 21 May 1915, two days after writing his rough postcard to his father. He had been in the front line and reportedly had just climbed over the parapet to relieve the men in a forward observation post when he fell back into the trench, shot through the head. He died a short time later.

Roy McMillan was 21 years old.

Today his body lies buried in Beach Cemetery at Anzac. He is commemorated on a headstone in the Eugowra Cemetery, together with his two uncles, Bob and Viv McMillan, who were killed in action in France.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Roy Alexander McMillan, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1184) Private Roy Alexander McMillan, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)