Wellington R1646 - Glen Clunie

Profiles of the crew onboard

Sergeant Roy Alistair Milliken, RAAF

Alistair Milliken

Roy Alistair Milliken was born in Mackay, Queensland, Australia on May 6th 1919 and was adopted by Robert Anderson Milliken and his wife Ann Graham Brown Milliken. Robert, a coal miner, and Ann, a midwife, had emigrated to Australia from Stonehouse, Lanarkshire in Scotland, arriving in Brisbane onboard the ship 'Dorset' with their two children, Mary (7) and Andrew (1) on May 18th 1911. Robert was employed by the coal mine at Blair Athol, Queensland. In 1913, two years after arriving in Australia their daughter Margaret was born, Roy Alistair in 1919, followed by two further sons, Ian in 1921 and Donald in 1922. The family lived in Clermont, Queensland.

Roy Alistair was called Alistair by his family, and will be referred to as such in the text below.

From the age of twelve to fourteen, Alistair was educated at the State School in Clermont, Queensland, and from age fourteen to fifteen at The Boys Grammar School in Rockhampton. Between the ages of fifteen and sixteen he was educated at St. Joseph's College, Nudgee, near Brisbane. After leaving school, Alistair studied accountancy at the Youth Employment Class at Rockhampton.

On his Application for Air Crew form, Alistair stated that he had one hour of solo flying experience gained at Royal Queensland Aero Club. He also noted that he had worked in the Power House for six months.

Alistair joined the RAAF at No. 3b Mobile Recruiting Centre in Rockhampton, Queensland and on October 11th 1940 was given the Service Number 404637 and the rank of Aircraftsman 2 (AC2). He commenced his training at No.2 Initial Training School (2 ITS), Bradfield Park on Sydney's north shore on October 14th.

On November 29th 1940, Alistair embarked at Sydney for Canada and was seconded to the RCAF under the Empire Air Training Scheme.

After arriving in Canada on December 23rd 1940, Alistair was posted to No.2 Wireless Training School (2 WTS), Calgary where he arrived on Christmas Eve. After completing five months at WTS Alistair was posted to No.2 Bombing and Gunnery School (2 BAGS) at Mossbank, Sask, on May 23rd 1941 was awarded his Air Gunners Badge on June 23rd and promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

June 24th 1941 was to be a memorable day as Alistair married Mary Patricia Donahoe, niece of Mr and Mrs L A Philips of Strathmore, Canada in a 'military wedding' at St. Mary's Rectory, Calgary. A newspaper carried the wedding announcement as follows:

    "Milliken - Donahoe. On Tuesday evening, June 24th, a military wedding took place at St Mary's Rectory, Calgary, at 7 o'clock, when Mary Patricia Donahoe, niece of Mr and Mrs L. A. Phillips of Strathmore, became the bride of Sgt Alistair Milliken RAAF, son of Mr and Mrs Robert Milliken of Clermont, Queensland, Australia.

    Father M. S. Lynch, who holds the rank of Flight Lieutenant In the RAAF, officiated at the ceremony.

    The bride, who was unattended, wore an afternoon frock of Queens blue with hat to match, white accessories and a corsage of deep pink roses.

    The wedding dinner was served at the York Hotel at 8 o'clock, only immediate relatives being present.

    After a short honeymoon in Calgary, the couple will return to Strathmore. The groom will be leaving in a few days for Halifax and from there overseas by plane. Sergeant Milliken is a graduate of the No.2 Wireless School in Calgary and of the No.2 Bombing and Gunnery School in Mossbank, Sask.

    His many friends will unite in wishing him Bon Voyage on his ocean trip, and a safe return when the conflict is over.

    Best wishes for much happiness is extended to the newly married couple by their many friends."

    Alistair and Mary on their wedding day

On July 21st 1941, Alistair embarked for the UK, arriving some seventeen days later. All arrivals from Canada at this time were initially posted to 3 Personnel Reception Centre (3 PRC) at Bournemouth where their documentation etc was checked and processed and they were then posted to the next stage of their training. For Alistair this was to 2 Signals School (2 SS) at Yatesbury for three to four weeks of signals training before being posted to 20 Operational Training Unit (20 OTU) at Lossiemouth in Scotland where he arrived on September 23rd 1941. OTU was where all the aircrew disciplines came together and were trained to work as bomber crews in preparation for operational duties.

It was during a training flight from 20 OTU that Alistair lost his life on January 19th 1942. He was buried in grave 17 at Dyce Old Churchyard on March 2nd, the enscription on his headstone reads "he served his country well".

    The other Australian airman who died onboard Wellington R1646 was Beaumont Dickson. Alistair joined the RAAF on the same day and at the same place as Beaumont Dickson. The service numbers allocated to the two men were two digits apart, so it's possible that the two men were friends who had decided to join the RAAF together. They attended the same training courses together in Australia, sailed together to Canada and attended the same courses together in Canada. Beaumont embarked for the UK slightly before Alistair, possibly because Alistair got married the day after completion at 2 BAGS and may have been permitted some leave in Canada with his new wife before embarking for the UK. However, after arriving in the UK, Alistair attended the same signals school in Yatesbury as Beaumont and they both arrived together at 20 OTU in Lossiemouth.

Old Kirk at Dyce Churchyard
Grave of R A Milliken
Commonwealth War Graves cross at Dyce Churchyard

My grateful thanks to the relatives of Alistair Milliken; families Milliken, Fell and Murphy in Australia for their assistance with information and images for this page.
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© Linzee Druce 2002-2012