William Milne

Henrietta Traquair, born 1850 died Herdmanston, East Lothian, 1901, wife of James Milne born 1848 died in British Columbia 1925; 2nd son Ramsay Traquair, Captain 13th D.C. Lancers born 1879, died at Colinton 1910; 3rd daughter Cecilia Balfour born 1885, died at Alberta, Canada 1911, wife of Edmund Widdrington Herbert; youngest son Major William Milne, M.C., L.N. Lancashire Regiment and R.F.C. killed while flying near Reston, Berwickshire 13 April 1917, born 1888; 2nd daughter Elizabeth Law born 1882, died in British Columbia, Christmas Eve 1935. Eldest son John Milne born 1888, died at Dunesslin 1961.

CWGC: Major W. Milne, M.C., Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and Royal Flying Corps; killed while flying near Reston, Berwickshire, 13 April 1917. 

William Milne was the youngest of seven children of James Milne, an engineer, and his wife Henrietta Traquair.  He was born at Juniper Green, Midlothian, on 31 December 1888, and educated at Edinburgh Academy, Heidelberg, Germany, and the Royal Military College Sandhurst.  Gazetted a second lieutenant in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1908, he served in Mauritius and Poona, India, before returning home on leave in 1912.  By then his father had gone to British Columbia and William resigned his commission in December 1912 and went to Canada to join him.  

When war broke out William returned to the U.K. and re-joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment as a temporary Lieutenant in the 8th (Service) Battalion in September 1914, being promoted to the rank of temporary Captain with effect from 26 November 1914.  Finding the battalion would not immediately be going to France he applied to join the Royal Flying Corps. While attending a flying course he was badly hurt in an aeroplane accident near Chelmsford on 22 December 1914 when the Maurice Farman biplane he and another officer were in crashed nose-first into a ploughed field from a height of about 50 feet while undertaking a spiral descent.  They both survived but William suffered a broken jaw, cuts, bruises and concussion. 

William returned to duty on his recovery in March 1915 and served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from May 1915 as an Observer.  In August 1915 he went to the Flying School at Le Crotoy and obtained his Pilot’s certificate.  He returned to England in September and was stationed at Montrose, Newcastle and Thetford before again being sent to France in February 1916 as a Flight-Commander.  On 17 May he was wounded during an aerial fight which saw him drive two enemy aeroplanes into the ground and led to him being awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and skill.  As a result of his wounds he was invalided home and worked for a time as a liaison officer before being given command of a squadron in Edinburgh in October 1916 charged with “Home Defence”.  He was promoted to the rank of Major in the Royal Flying Corps in November 1916.  He and another R.F.C. officer, Lieutenant George E. C. Collinson, were killed in a flying accident near Reston, Berwickshire, on 13 April 1917.  They were caught in “a sharp shower of snow”, their plane lost a wing and nosedived into the ground from a height of about 1500 feet.

De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919


De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919

Pro Patria Mori. The Edinburgh Academy At War 1914-1918

The Edinburgh Academy Chronicle Vol. XXIV. No. 6. June 1917 (https://edinburghacademy.cook.websds.net/default.aspx)

Chelmsford Chronicle, Fri., 25 Dec. 1914; Essex Newsman, Sat. 26 Dec. 1914

London Gazette, 24 June 1916 

The Scotsman, 14 April 1917