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Commanding Officer TOROA: 1951 – 1963

Commander D.L. (Dusty) Millar, OBE, VRD*, RNZNVR

Commander D.L. (Dusty) Millar,



Commander David Lennox (Dusty) Millar was born about 1918 in Dunedin and was educated at Otago Boys High School.   On leaving school, he joined Keith Ramsay, Shipping Agents, as an office Cadet, and in 1935 he joined the Otago Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (New Zealand Division) (RNVR(NZD)) as a Signalman.


From December 1938 to May 1939 he served as a leading signalman in the crew of HMS ACHILLES, for a cruise to the UK to change British crew members.   During the cruise he was commissioned as Sub-Lieutenant RNVR.


On the outbreak of war he was sent to Australia to a Sub-Lieutenants’ course.   On return he was posted to HMS JAMES COSGROVE, a Minesweeper, as Executive Officer.    He commanded four minesweepers during the war – HM Ships, and later HMNZ Ships, AWATERE, WAIHO, WAIMA, and MAIMAI.   In January 1942 his ship carried New Zealand’s gold bullion reserves from Wellington to Picton for safe storage.   There was no obvious increase in his personal wealth.


From 1942 until July 1946, he was Senior Minesweeping Officer Wellington.   He was demobilized in July 1946 and returned to Keith Ramsay.


In 1947 he was commissioned again in the Otago Division of the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNZNVR), and in 1950 he was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander.   On the retirement of Commander Swanson, in 1951, he was promoted to Commander and appointed in command of HMNZS TOROA.


A wise administrator, Commander Millar had the difficult task of enforcing the Compulsory Military Training Act with fines for failure to attend.  He was responsible for 172 crew and selecting the best of those who chose naval training.  In total over 350 were trained.   After the end of Military Training he had to rebuild the Reserve as a truly Volunteer service.


In 1963, after twelve years in command, he retired and became a highly respected “elder statesman.” He became Manager of Keith Ramsay, a position he held until he retired.


He was married to Jean and had two boys and a daughter.    He died in 1991.


For his services, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration (VRD), and a Clasp to that Decoration.

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