No.3856 Sergeant George William Milne
George William Milne was born in Portland, Victoria. At the time of enlistment, he was working as an estate agent at Lilydale, some 35 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, where his widowed mother, Mrs Jessie Milne, also lived.
George William Milne was almost 37 years old when he enlisted in the army on 14 July 1915 in Melbourne. He was assigned to the 12th Reinforcements, 6th Battalion. The 6th was one of the first infantry battalions raised in Victoria after war was declared in August 1918. It took part in the Gallipoli landings as part of the second wave in April 1915, and also in the costly battles of Krithia and Lone Pine. It was evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915 and sent to Egypt . It was here that Lance-Corporal George Milne joined the 6th Battalion at Serapeum, about 65 kilometres due south of Port Said. Barely a few weeks later, he found himself in France, landing at Marseilles on 2 April.
Over the next two months, he was promoted to Lance-Sergeant and then full Sergeant by the end of July. The 6th Battalion’s first action in France was at Pozieres as part of the doomed Somme offensive that began on July 1 1916. In just six weeks, the Australians lost as many men killed, wounded or missing as they suffered during the entire Gallipoli campaign. The 6th Battalion was then sent to Ypres in Belgium until December when it returned to the Somme.
In 1917, the Battalion was involved in actions that followed the German tactical withdrawal to a stronger defensive position that became known as the Hindenburg Line. It then returned to Ypres to take part in a renewed offensive broadly identified as the battle of Passchendaele that began in July and ended amidst the cold and mud of November. Sergeant Milne was spared the worst of the fighting.
On 21 July 1917, he was sent to England for training and didn’t return to his unit and the front line until January 20 1918. Two months later, he and his mates from the 6th Battalion were thrust into the line to help stop the German spring offensive that raged during March and April.
It was towards the end of the campaign on 29 April 1914, that Sergeant George William Milne was severely wounded. Ironically, the unit war diary says that the 6th Battalion was in the process of being relieved in the front line by elements of the Australian 8th Battalion and that casualties were light. One of those casualties was Sergeant Milne who suffered both gunshot wounds and fractured legs. He was evacuated from the front – approximately three kilometres north west of Bailleul in France – and was taken to the 15th Casualty Clearing Station where he succumbed on 3 May 1918.
He is buried at Ebblingheim British Military Cemetery (Plot 1, Row D) some 7.5 kilometres north west of Hazebrouck in France.
Medals & Entitlements:
[received by his widowed mother, Mrs Jessie Milne]
- 1914/15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
- King’s Message and memorial plaque
Service record citation: NAA: B2455, MILNE GEORGE WILLIAM
6th Battalion war history and war diaries - Australian War Memorial