16.12.1940 No 1 PRU Spitfire I X4350 F/O. Millen DFC
Date: 16th December 1940 (Monday)
Unit: No. 1 PRU (Coastal Command - 15 Group)
Type: Spitfire I
Base: RAF St. Eval, Cornwall
Location: Atlantic Ocean, off Lannilis, France
Pilot: F/O. Samuel James Millen DFC NZ/41047 RNZAF Age 26. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 14:15 hrs from RAF St. Eval in Cornwall to carry out a low level reconnaissance of Brest.
It seems that he was shot down over the sea off Lannilis. The body of the pilot was washed ashore at a later date near Tréflez. Buried in the local cemetery and the only Commonwealth grave in the churchyard.
LG dated 20th September 1940:
'Late in October, 1940, this officer successfully completed a special mission involving a hazardous flight of 5 hours 55 minutes at a height of 27,000 feet. The success he achieved in this, and many similar flights, is due to his initiative and keenness, combined with enthusiasm and very thorough preparations before flight'.
Details of that operation (courtesy Victoria University of Wellington):
On the 29th October 1940, F/O. Millen left RAF Heston in a new type long-range Spitfire, to carry out a high altitude photographic reconnaissance of Berlin. He found it covered with cloud so decided therefore to look for other targets. He succeeded in photographing Stettin, Swinemunde, Rostock and Warnemunde, and returned to RAF Heston after a flight of five hours fifty-five minutes at 27,000 feet. This is the first operation on which this type of aircraft has been used, and F/O. Millen deserves great credit for his initiative in carrying on further into enemy territory, photographing what he knew were important targets, when he found Berlin covered with cloud. He has completed over thirty photographic operations in this Unit, all over enemy territory, in unarmed single-seater aircraft at high altitudes.
F/O. Samuel James Millen DFC. Treflez Churchyard. Born on the 20th January 1914 at Wanganui, the son of Samuel George A. Millen and Olive Jane Kidd Millen, of Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 723 flying hours logged and having completed 50 operational sorties.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, Michel Schreiber for grave photograph, Victoria University of Wellington, other sources as quoted below: