Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Ordinary Seaman Robert Robinson Millar

Remembering Ordinary Seaman Robert Robinson Millar – D/JX 170164 – Royal Navy – Missing presumed killed 16 February 1942 aged 17 while serving on Naval Base HMS Sultan, Singapore

Robert was born in Carrickfergus in 1925 the son of James and Agnes Millar (nee Robinson)

We will relatively little about Robert’s life prior to the Second World War but when he was 16 he enlisted into the Royal Navy and following training was assigned to the H.M.S Prince of Wales in 1941. 

The Prince of Wales was completed by Cammell Laird Shipbuilders of Birkenhead in the March of 1941 and whilst not fully operational was sent into action with the Bismarck in May. After battling with and causing damage to The Bismarck the PofW herself was damaged and sailed home for repairs, during the June and July of 1941. Once repairs were complete in the August the PofW conveyed Prime Minister Churchill and his staff to meet President Roosevelt off the coast of Newfoundland to sign the Atlantic Charter. Around the third week of September the PofW joined Force H in Malta on Operation Halberd before returning home. On October 25th the Prince of Wales left the Clyde with Repulse for Singapore via the Cape of Good Hope and arrived on the 2nd December. On the 10th December with Repulse she was sadly sunk following a torpedo attack by Japanese aircraft. 

Robert along with others who survived the sinking was taken to Singapore and assigned to HMS Sultan Naval Base.

Robert had not seen the end of fighting would soon be caught up in Winston Churchill called the "worst disaster" and "largest capitulation" in British military history, that being the Fall of Singapore to the Japanese. 

Singapore was the major British military base in South-East Asia and nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the East". The fighting in Singapore lasted from 8–15 February 1942.
It resulted in the capture of Singapore by the Japanese and the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history. About 80,000 British, Indian and Australian troops became prisoners of war, joining 50,000 taken by the Japanese in the earlier Malayan Campaign.

As the Japanese attacked, their troops were ordered to take no prisoners as they would slow up the Japanese advance. A pamphlet issued to all Japanese soldiers stated:

"When you encounter the enemy after landing, think of yourself as an avenger coming face to face at last with his father’s murderer. Here is a man whose death will lighten your heart."

As a result thousands of allied servicemen were killed along with up to 50,000 natives.  We know nothing about Robert’s death except that he is reported as missing presumed dead during the Fall of Singapore, 16 February 1942.  It is very likely he died prior to this date during the intense fighting prior to surrender on 15th February. 

Robert Robinson Millar was only 17 when he was killed, a world away from his native town of Carrickfergus. His body was never recovered and he is forever remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial Panel 101 Column 3.  His name also appears on the Second World War Plaque located in Carrickfergus Town Hall.  


Plymouth Naval Memorial 

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