Leslie Thomas McMillan

Additional Information: 

Son of Thomas and Jane McMillan, of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.

  • CWGC

Biographical Notes:

VNZ64785 Captain Leslie Thomas McMillan 30th Battalion, 35th Battalion, Z Special Unit. Drowned Borneo

McMillan was born in Invercargill on the 15th March, and educated at Gore High School and Otago University. Mac represented his school and province in football. He qualified as an accountant in May 1936. From 1936 to 1940 he worked as an accountant in Fiji, Malaysia and Thailand.

Returning to New Zealand in 1940 he enlisted in the army and entered Papakura Military Camp. He was posted to the 30th Battalion Fiji and soon promoted to Intelligence Sergeant. In 1942 he returned to New Zealand to attend the O.C.T.U.. When he received his commission he was posted to 35th Battalion A Company in New Caledonia. He was Area Officer at Nepoui and also the Intelligence Officer of the Battalion. After the Vella action he rejoined A company at Nissan

It would seem Mac volunteered for Z Special Unit and ended up 2nd in command to Major Don Stott on operation Platapus.

Operation Platypus was an operation by Allied special reconnaissance personnel from Z Special Unit, during the Borneo Campaign of World War Two. Platypus involved small groups being inserted into the Balikpapan area of Dutch Borneo (Kalimantan), to gather information and organise local people as resistance fighters against the Japanese.

On 20 March 1945, Platypus 1 (also known as Project “Robin”) was carried out, using Hoehn folboats (collapsible canoes) and inflatable rubber dinghies that had been lashed to the side of the submarine USS Perch. Four members of Z Force, in two of the folboats, were launched into heavy seas 50km north of Balikpapan. As one of the motors failed to start, both crews resorted to paddling. One folboat, crewed by Sergeants Bruce Dooland (Australian Army) and Bill Horrocks (New Zealand Army), managed to reach the shore. The other folboat, carrying the mission commander Major D. J. (Don) Stott and his 2IC Captain Leslie McMillan, both New Zealanders, must of capsized; both men were reported missing, presumed drowned.

Extensive searches and questioning of locals and Japanese POW were done during and after the war with no trace found. A court of enquiry ruled death by drowning. His memorial is in Labuan cemetery with the three other kiwi Z Special Unit Commando's lost in Borneo.

Barry Gamble December 2020 ( NZ Remembrance Army)

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Personal Tributes:


Service Number: 
Leslie Thomas McMillan
Date of Birth:
Not known
Date of Enlistment:
Not known
New Zealand Infantry

Casualty Details

Cause of Death:
Date of Death:
20 March 1945
Day of Death:
Age at Death: 

Embarkation Details

Text in italics supplied by Cenotaph Online, Auckland War Memorial Museum


Cemetery Reference: 
Panel 31.
Cemetery Location: 
Leslie Thomas McMillan
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