Topic: William Thomas Milliken

Topic type:

A soldier of the Great War killed in action near Amman, Palestine.

Milliken, W. T.

William Thomas Milliken - 18351      

William was born in Canterbury on 7th May 1894, son of John and Elizabeth Milliken. Before enlisting he was working for his father at  Springfield. He had previous military experience having served four  years with the 1st Mounted Rifles, Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry. He had a fair complexion with blue eyes and brown hair

William enlisted on 25th July 1916 and was assigned to the 20th Reinforcements, New Zealand Mounted Rifles. He embarked with them on 14 December 1916 on board the Moeraki bound for Suez. He disembarked at Suez after Christmas on 24th January 1917 and was posted to the strength at Moascar on the same day. He was sent to the School of Instruction at Zeitoun on 7th February and re-joined his unit 10 days later at Moascar. He was then transferred to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade on 29th April and posted to 1st Squadron in the field on 2nd May 1917. He was killed in action on 28th March 1918, aged 23. On that day the Mounted Rifles took part in the first raid on Amman which had begun the day before. The assault was renewed at 1 p.m., but little headway was made. The Mounted Rifles tried twice during the day to advance, but at the end of day still occupied the line held the previous day. The Mounted Rifles casualties for the day are one man killed and two wounded. It would seem that William was that casualty. The report of his death notes that he was buried near Amman amongst the “ex Salt District military graves about thirty miles north east of Jericho, Palestine. Grave p16”. After the war his body was retrieved and buried in the Damsacus Commonwealth War Cemetery, Syria. In New Zealand William is remembered on the Springfield and Kowai Bush War Memorials   


CWGC locale history: The cemetery dates from the First World War when Damascus was entered by Commonwealth forces on 1 October 1918. The first medical unit arriving the next day found the Turkish hospitals crowded with sick and wounded, and a few days later an epidemic of influenza and cholera broke out. The First World War burials in this cemetery were mostly from these hospitals. The Second World War burials began in 1941 during the operations against the Vichy French, and later on graves were moved into the cemetery from civilian burial grounds, Deraa French Military Cemetery, and from scattered sites in the areas where the fighting occurred. The first burials were in a tree belt between the cemetery boundaries and the low wall which enclosed the plots of existing graves. Adjoining land to the west, known as "The Cypresses", was acquired by the military authorities when it became necessary to enlarge the cemetery. DAMASCUS COMMONWEALTH WAR CEMETERY now contains 661 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 74 of the burials are unidentified and, in the new part of the cemetery, a special tablet commemorates six men of the Indian army who were buried in Damascus Indian War Cemetery but whose graves are now lost. Second World War burials number 504, of which 14 are unidentified. The cemetery also contains seven war graves of other nationalities. The DAMASCUS 1939-45 MEMORIAL also stands within the cemetery. This simple screen memorial commemorates ten Arab soldiers whose graves in Syria, Lebanon and Israel are so situated that permanent maintenance is not possible.

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William Thomas Milliken

First Names:William Thomas
Last Name:Milliken
Date of Birth:7th May 1894
Place of Birth:Canterbury
Date of Death:28 March 1918
Place of Death:Palestine
Memorial or Cemetery:Damsacus Commonwealth War Cemetery, Syria
Age at death:23
User Name:Selwyn Library
Occupation before enlisting:Farmer
Marital Status:Single
Nominal Roll:48/2
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Country:New Zealand
Enlistment details:25 July 1916
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of John and Elizabeth Milliken, of Springfield, Canterbury.
Service Number:18351
Rank last held:Trooper
Embarkation:14 Decemeber 1916
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Theatres of War:Western Front
Cause of Death:Killed in action