910609 William McMillan - 7th Coastal RA - Singapore

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by AB64, Dec 3, 2019 at 2:31 PM.

  1. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Trying to clarify this Gunners war - I had included him in my POW paybooks thread as I thought he was captured at the fall of Singapore but it looks like I was wrong. Based on the below there is a casualty return with him missing 15/2/42 and as his unit surrendered I was taking that as a sign he was taken - the second casualty return has this as a mistake, but then the next document which shows movements of POWs (overland etc) includes him so I believed he was actually a POW, as this list would have been compiled quite a bit after the fall (not sure if it was at even the end of the War) so if there had been initial confusion it would have been cleared up by the time of the list and he wouldn't be included - I'm not sure whet the "M" means.

    With the release of the Burma Star Association membership records I have been checking the paybooks I have and Gunner McMillan turned up,if he had been taken POW at Singapore I believe he would be Pacific Star not Burma Star so this seems to confirm he was not POW. I'm wondering if Gunner McMillan was not with the unit during the fighting and so avoided capture or if he was able to escape - I believe several small boats escaped including one with Captain Pickard. He seems to have seen further service with 8th Medium Regiment

    Any thoughts welcome

    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4 wo361.jpg 5.jpg
  2. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    The 'M' indicates 'Missing'. To me it looks as though Gnr McMillan managed to escape. My reading is that he was in Singapore, hence his inclusion on the Roll, but they had no information on him, hence the 'M'. The Casualty Return 766 indicates that he has been found somewhere, possibly Australia or Ceylon. He was obviously not found in Singapore or there would be an amendment on the Changi BRE Roll. What is the date of Casualty Return 766?
    Since he reappears in Burma his medal entitlement would be the Pacific Star with Burma clasp.

    Edit: To clarify. The document headed Page 167 is from the Bureau of Record and Enquiry (BRE). This organisation was run surreptitiously by Captain David Nelson in Changi POW Camp under the noses of the Japanese. They were compiled using best information available. They did not become available to UK Casualty Branch until after the war. Inclusion on these lists does not necessarily mean someone was a POW although it almost always does. McMillan being on the list means he should have been there but the 'M' indicates they have no information. Bureau of Record and Enquiry
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 3:45 PM
  3. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Thanks for that - I'm assuming the BRE was using men's memories and scraps of information, so if he had only recently left (by transfer or escaping) other men in his battery may not have been aware so may have given his name for inclusion.

    The missing notification is for 48 hours ending 9 March 42 - the delete note is 48 hours ending 4 May 42
  4. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I'll have to check this out but my understanding is that these are Regimental Rolls to which information was added. Initially many would still be with their own unit and easily identifiable. The 'Parties' going elsewhere either OVL (overland) or OVS (overseas) were formed up in Changi so their names would be known. Most POWs passed through Changi at some stage and could be questioned. If someone was missing others would be questioned. My father was captured in Java changing ships in Singapore Harbour for Japan and never went to Changi. His information comes from others of the Regiment who went from Java to Borneo via Changi, but all they knew was that he was in Tandjong Priok Camp in Java. The entry against him in the Roll therefore reads 'Java' despite the fact he was in Japan.
    The above entry for McMillan is taken from WO 361-2186 Royal Artillery I-M.
    Maybe of interest. All these Rolls and Party lists were lost/buried until discovered in the National Archives around 2010.

    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 5:55 PM
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  5. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Gunner McMillan was able to message his mother by telegram in early April 1942
    Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 18.35.13.png
    Liverpool Echo 11th April 1942
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  6. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Thanks for that, the impression definitely seems to be that it wasn't a pre-planned posting away from Singapore

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