McMillan family’s second loss

Sergeant J McMillan
Sergeant J McMillan


The Galloway Gazette, December 23rd, 1916

In September 1916, The Galloway Gazette reported the death in action of Sergeant James McMillan, 5th KOSB, who was the third son of the late Newton Stewart Police Sergeant Alexander McMillan.

The family had more bad news to deal with four months later when news came through that his brother, Sergeant Robert McMillan, serving with the South African Contingent in France, was found dead in his billet.

A letter to their sister from his company officer told the story. He said: “On the morning on December 2, he was called by one of the sergeants occupying the same billet, and as he did not respond, investigations were made. It was then discovered that he had passed away peacefully in his sleep, the medical officer saying ‘life had been extinct for several hours’. He was buried that afternoon in the village cemetery with full military honours, the whole battalion turning out to pay its last respects to one of its highly esteemed members.”

Having been educated at Creebridge School, he worked for a time in the offices of Mr W M Kelly, solicitor. At the time of the South African War (1899-1902) he enlisted in the Baden Powell Police and left his home town for training in Edinburgh, on the same day his brother James left for Berwick-on-Tweed to join the Volunteer Company of the KOSB. He saw service in the South African War and stayed on to work in South Africa. He rejoined in 1914 and was involved in the capture of German South-West Africa. When that conflict was resolved, he enlisted as a private in the South African Corps and sailed for other theatres of war. He managed to spend a few days in his native town, after an absence of 16 years. He was serving in Egypt at the start of 1916 before being transferred to France, where he saw heavy fighting in the autumn of 1916.


Second-Lieutenant James Lees, RSF, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, was discovered to be a prisoner-of-war in Germany, after being reported missing. The news came through from the family of the plane’s observer. They were attacked by enemy fighter planes in the air and the Lieutenant was shot in the leg. Before the war, Lieutenant Lees managed two farms in the Glenluce district.