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Papers of John Foster Millard


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Archive of John Foster Millard (1911-2004) relating to the Lake Rudolph expedition in 1934, his colonial service and war service in Africa, and later life in Africa.


  • Creation: 1932-1996


1.31 Linear metres (9 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. 16876/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 16876/1-7; MSS. 16876 Photogr. 1-2

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 16876


The archive of John Foster Millard, 1932-1996.

Biographical / Historical

John Foster Millard was born on 13 June 1911 and raised at Herschel, on the South African/Basutoland border. He went up to St John’s College, Cambridge, and on graduating joined Sir Vivian Fuchs’s expedition to Lake Rudolph in 1934. Brief appointments to the Basutoland Civil Administration, and then ADC to the British High Commissioner in South Africa, followed. In 1936 he joined the Colonial Service in Tanganyika until the beginning of war with Germany, when he resigned and enlisted with the army in Kenya.

Millard joined the 22nd Indian Mountain Battery under General Cunningham’s advance against the Italians in Somalia and Ethiopia. In Addis Ababa he was seconded to the political staff under Brigadier Maurice Lush, during which time he led a group of Ethiopian Patriots in the Guraghe Highlands. At the final defeat of Italian forces at Kulkaber and Gondar in the north of Ethiopia, he acted as liaison between the Patriots and the regular army. Another assignment in Ethiopia in 1942 to assess political unrest among Oromo tribesmen in north-east Ethiopia, and with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Madagascar, preceded action in Europe. This began in North Africa with the 8th Army’s defeat of Rommel, then the invasion of Italy through Sicily, Millard's job being in military government. Transfer to the 2nd Army in Britain saw him take part in the D Day landings and its aftermath at the Battle of Arnhem and German surrender at Lueneburg Heath.

Millard then rejoined the Colonial Service, initially assisting Sir Ralph Furse select key personnel for the Colonial administration. In 1947, by now married to Corinne Odlum (1919-2000) from Ireland, he embarked on another period with the Tanganyika Colonial Administration where he marked out a buffer zone of European farms between the Maasai lands and the Mount Kilimanjaro forests, and encountered Mau Mau activity two years before the state of emergency was declared in Kenya. In 1950, however, he was transferred to a district in northern Bechuanaland in order to ease the controversial return from exile in the UK of Seretse Khama, later President of Botswana. For this hed was awarded an O.B.E.

A chance invitation to buy land at Ol Molog on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro led to Millard resigning once again from the Colonial administration and a phase as a farmer from 1959 to 1975, when all non-Tanzanian owned property was taken over by the Nyerere government. He made ends meet by establishing a safari business before retiring to Nairobi.

Fishing expeditions to other parts of the world, involvement in wildlife societies, and visits to his property in Connemara, Ireland, marked his later years. Millard died on 8 March 2004. His life is covered in his published memoirs, Never a Dull Moment (1996, Silent Books).


The majority of the archive has been kept in its orginal order. Photographs have been separated as noted in the catalogue.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by John Foster Millard's daughter, Phillipa Millard, in October 2019.


  • Never a dull moment: the autobiography of John Millard, administrator, soldier & farmer John Millard (Silent Books, 1996)
  • Bare feet and bandoliers: Wingate, Sandford, the Patriots and the part they played in the liberation of Ethiopia David Shirreff (Radcliffe Press, 1995)
Catalogue of the papers of John Foster Millard
Finding aid prepared by Jen Patterson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom