His advice and humanitarianism made a profound impression on me and moulded me into what I am today.
There were times that I often wondered what he was trying to pass on, but it was not until much later in life, “that the penny dropped” and all was clear!
He was the one to encourage me to participate in community service, as he did, which was very obvious, as he was always doing something for others, whether it was helping young, returned servicemen buy a farm or supplying the local school head students with a blazer, paying for country students to attend the Melbourne Lord Mayor's Camp at Portsea, buying sporting equipment for youngsters etc. This last situation was caused by his friendship with the Late Lt General Leslie Morehead, who was a teacher at the Melbourne Grammar School when he was a student there. Morehead was on the initial committee that started the camp in 1945 and from 1964 to 1968, I accompanied young boys and girls from the Riverina area and acted as troop leader for ten days during my annual holidays.
I suppose my most vivid memory of him was seeing him standing beside a commercial canning machine that he had installed in the old laundry at our home, “Deniliquin Stud Park”, meticulously overseeing the production of cans of food destined for war torn London, before immersing them in the huge copper, which always seemed to be bubbling away in the corner.
He had at the beginning of the WW2 volunteered for active duty, but due to the fact, that he was in his late 40’s and the proprietor of one of the major merino sheep studs, which was required to keep the wool industry alive, was refused, however a first war friendship with the English Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, led him to form a “Food for Britain” campaign and from 1940 until 1953, he weekly canned whatever food he could gather, not only from his own extensive garden, but friends or whoever would support his venture. I remember well the trips to town with his pallet load of food to be dropped off at the Deniliquin railway station, destined for the Melbourne wharfs.
After the war he was offered a Knighthood by King Edward V, but refused stating that, he was only doing what he could for “King and Country”.
In 1953, he and my Grandmother Ruth, made a trip back to England to catch up with friends, many being those families that his food parcels during those horrific times. However, there was one secret kept from him, for he was not one to accept accolades or commendations easily, but prior to their trip, my Uncle Ned Herring, [Lord Chief Justice of Victoria – 1944 to 1964 and Lt Governor of Victoria – 1944 to 1972] had been informed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, that he was to have the “Keys of the City of London” bestowed upon him and this was, at all costs, to be kept from him. When the time arrived and my Grandmother regaled in telling the story, he was informed by gran, that he had to dress for dinner, that is black tie and tails, to which he replied, why, we are only going down to the hotel’s dining room!!! She then informed him that they were invited out for dinner this night and a car would be there to collect them shortly, “End of story” as far as gran was concerned!!
Well, you most probably can guess the rest, the said vehicle collected them and conveyed them to the London Guild’s Hall, where they were greeted by the Lord Mayor and Councillors and as they say in the classics, “The rests history”.
There are so many other instances of life growing up with this giant of a man, he was a lateral thinker, who definitely looked outside the square so to speak and this was shown by his actions after the first world war.
For in 1918 my grandfather Thomas Millear hadn’t come directly home from the first war, for during the Battle of Passchendaele near Ypres, he was badly gassed with Mustard gas, which led to his repatriation to a hospital in London and upon his release he was invalided with the Lady Randolph Churchill’s, mother of Winston Churchill, for she and her late husband Lord Randolph Churchill, had been close friends of my Great Grandfather.
After his recovery, he chose to further his education in the wool industry by spending several years working with the woollen industry in Yorkshire, especially in and around the Bradford area. His claim was, that any wool producer, if they wanted to really learn about the product they produced, should go to the end source of their product and learn what the trade required of them in the production of wool. He also felt as that he was close to the mills etc at that period  that purchased Australian wool; he should make the effort in learning more about his industry.
Where do you end when writing about the person who helped shape me, it’s always a conundrum, but I guess with brevity in mind, this would be as good as ever!!!!
April 24, 2021