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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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16.12.1940 No 1 PRU Spitfire I X4350 F/O. Millen DFC

Operation: Reconnaissance

Date: 16th December 1940 (Monday)

Unit: No. 1 PRU (Coastal Command - 15 Group)

Type: Spitfire I

Serial: X4350

Code: LY-?

Base: RAF St. Eval, Cornwall

Location: Atlantic Ocean, off Lannilis, France

Pilot: F/O. Samuel James Millen DFC NZ/41047 RNZAF Age 26. Killed


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.

Burial details:

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:

KTY 25.10.2018

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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