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The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum

Original Topic

12th April 2001

Spike Milligans Great Grandfather?
By Richard Howes

I heard something somewhere (vague or what...)about a rumour concerning Spike Milligans Great Grandfather being a survivor of Isandhlwana- any truth in this?


Lee Stevenson
Going to be equally vague. I think this info appears in one of Spike Milligan's books, possibly Milligan Family Album or something like that. If memory serves correct Spike said the information came from an uncle? in Australia. There is no Milligan in the RA Medal Roll for the Zulu Campaign.

One anecdote on this story. Several years ago I spent an afternoon with the grandson of Driver CJ Robson RE. He told me a rather amusing story of an encounter with the Royal Artillery in the Western Desert during WW2.
He served with the Intelligence Corps riding motorcycles into the dangerous forward positions to access enemy movements etc. Apparently he was heading off one day and was just passing a RA battery at the very moment it opened an almighty barrage. The shock send Robson's grandson off the road and into a sand dune. It turned out that the RA battery was Spike Milligan's unit.



Richard Howes

Cheers for that Lee.
Somebody told me the Spike/ Isandlwana story was also on a TV interview he did a couple of years back- it was his Great uncle (or at least somebody on his mothers side of the family) that was there, and possibly as a Sgt or Cpl? apparently- but again, no further details. Hey ho...


Tony Weston

The man in question is Sergeant William Milligan RA, Spike Milligan's great-grandfather. The account is from Spike Milligan's book "It ends with Magic...", published by Penguin in 1990 by Michael Joseph, and in 1991 by Penguin (ISBN 0-14-013912-5). In the introductory Author's Note he gives his source as a handwritten document in the possession of Bert Milligan, in New Zealand at the time the book was written. Bert is a great-grandnephew of William Milligan. He would not allow the document to be photocopied, as it was very fragile. Spike Milligan had already copied it in 1960, presumably by hand.

Spike admits to adding his "own touches of drama to the story" which is on pages 56-60. How far these touches went is not clear but he repeats the story of the "heavy three-inch War Department screws" holding down the lids of the ammunition boxes, together with a lack of screwdrivers.