Roy Allen Sillar was a 23-year-old medical practitioner from Dubbo, New South Wales when he enlisted in the AIF on 29th January 1918. Prior to this Captain Sillar served with 26th Infantry Militia for four years.
Captain Sillar embarked with the AAMC (Australian Army Medical Corps) on 2nd March 1918 aboard the HMAT Commonwealth from Sydney. Sillar’s service record states that he disembarked at London and was taken on strength to AAMC Training Depot on 14th May 1918. On the 22nd May he was appointed as Medical Officer No.3 Training Depot.
Captain Sillar was involved in a riding accident on 30 June 1918.
News of Captain Sillar’s accident reached his family on 4th July 1918. The Sillar family were prominent members of their country community of Dubbo, New South Wales. The following articles appeared in the local newspaper of the time, The Dubbo Liberal & Macquarie Advocate, on Friday 5th July 1918:
Dr. Roy Allen Sillar
Meets with Serious Accident
Mr J.W. Sillar, manager of the Bank of Australasia (Dubbo) has received a cable message from England intimating that his second son, Dr Roy Sillar, has been seriously injured whilst serving in the Australian Imperial Forces. Dr Sillar was for some five years a resident student at St Andrew’s College, within the University, and last year passed his final examination for the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery. Dr Sillar afterwards passed through his hospital courses at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Royal North Sydney Hospital and on March 3rd last year sailed from Sydney as a medical officer in charge of a unit for the front. Sydney Morning Herald
Dr Sillar is a Dubbo native, and to most of its townspeople is as well known as the town clock; and they have watched his career with a personal interest. As a scholar at the Dubbo Public School he first attracted the attention by being the Dux of the school two years in succession. His name appears on the Honor Board at the Mechanics’ Institute. At the age of 14 he took the scholarship for the state after his first year of technical instruction in chemistry, under the tuition of Mr E. Campling, now Inspector of Schools Wellington. This was an exceptionally fine record for a boy. The promise that he gave at the Public School was later fully realised in all the other examinations leading up to or his matriculation in his Senior Exam. Before entering the University he received honors in his two Maths and in his classics (English, Latin and French). His University course is referred to in the paragraph from the “Herald”
Then came the call to serve the Empire, and he was prompt to respond. He had wanted badly to accompany his brothers, but all medical students were exempted, and he pushed through his medical course. That done he left hot-footed for the front. And then the accident. Regarding this Mr. J.W. Sillar informs us that he has not received any further information, and as the proverb has it, “No news is good news.” Let us hope.
Roy Sillar, aged 23, died on 30 June 1918, killed as a result of a fall from a horse which caused ‘concussion of the brain’.
Photo: Captain Roy Sillar’s grave, Compton Chamberlayne Burial Ground, Wiltshire (51° 3’56.70″N, 1°57’36.52″W) [Chris Munro]
A court of inquiry was held to investigate the accident.
The evidence of three witnesses is recorded in Captain Sillar’s service record.
“1st Witness. Lieut. V.C. Sanders states: Captain Sillar and I were proceeding in the direction of Barford at about 3 pm yesterday, 30th June, on horse back.
We met Capt Shaw AAMC and both dismounted to speak to him. After the conversation, we started to mount again. As I was about to mount I heard a clatter of hoofs and looked round and saw Capt Sillar half mounted and trying to get his right leg over the saddle. The horse was moving forward suddenly and moved about 6 yards with Captain Sillar still in the same position trying to get his leg over. He then succeeded but appeared to miss the stirrup on the off side, lost his balance and fell over the off side. He struck the ground with the left side of his face and head. I rushed up and was just picking him up when Captain Shaw came up and assisted me to lift him up and we took him to a house where I left him with Captain Shaw while I went for an ambulance.
2nd Witness. Capt. R. M. Shaw AAMC states: While walking from Barford on the 30th June at about 3pm I met Capt Sillar and Lieut. Sanders on horseback coming towards me. They dismounted commenced to mount again and talked to me for a short time and then Capt. Sillar being a little further down the road with Lt. Sanders horse between me and him. While saying goodbye to Lieut. Sanders I heard the noise of the other horse (Cpt Sillar’s) moving quickly and next saw Capt Sillar rolling on the road. I rushed over and assisted Lieut. Sanders to move him into a house near by and I remained and attended him till Lieut. Sanders returned with an Ambulance which was about ¾ hour after the occurrence. I went with Capt Sillar to Fovant Military Hospital and handed him over to Capt Huntley. He began to lose consciousness on being moved into the ambulance. Capt Sillar was perfectly sober at the time I met him.
3rd Witness Capt E. Huntley RAMC states: Capt Sillar was brought to Fovant Hospital in an ambulance and was admitted about 4.30pm 30th June 1918. He was perfectly unconscious. On the left side of his head there was very considerable bruising and some superficial abrasions. On the right side just above the right ear there was a laceration of the scalp surrounded by bruising. None of these wounds led down to bare bone. On the right hip also there was a very considerable bruise and there were abrasions of the fingers on the right hand. He had no paralytic symptoms. Captain Sillar never regained consciousness and died about 7pm on the same day. Cause of death was severe concussion of the brain. There were no signs of intoxication about Capt Sillar.
The Dubbo Liberal & Macquarie Advocate reported Captain Sillar’s death on 9th July 1918:
Mr John Walker Sillar, manager of the Bank of Australasia, received the following cable, dated July 5th, on Saturday from his son, Signaller Jack Sillar:- “Roy’s injuries fatal. Attended funeral yesterday.” … The shock to his devoted parents of this terrible sudden close to what promised to be a brilliant career is beyond the feeble power of any pen or tongue to describe. Only those who have lost a loved member of a happy family circle can understand their deep grief.