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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Alan Mills RAF 103 Sqn]

Sgt Alan Mills RAF - 103 Squadron - 1941 - Escaper and Evader

103 Squadron Mills, Whiting,  Coglan

Alan Mills on the left with Sgts Whiting and Coglan

2 POWs from 103 Sqn successfully escaped from captivity during WW2 and returned to the UK. Ron Hawkins and Alan Mills.

Mills was posted to 103 Squadron in the summer of 1941 and was part of the crew of the experienced S/L Ken Cross with whom he flew 7 operations. Cross later was shot down and became a POW who was murdered by the Germans in March 1944 for his part in the Great Escape. Mills also flew 4 operations with P/O Taffy Jones.

103 Squadron Cross and Jones

Left - Ken Cross. Right - Taffy Jones

His last operation was as navigator in the crew of F/L EV Lawson who was flying his 8th operation as captain of his own crew on the night of the 7/8th Nov 1941. The target was Mannheim and they took off from Elsham Wolds in Wellington X9794 at 1827.

Alan Mills had been detailed to fly a "Fresher" operation with a new captain but this sortie was scrubbed and he was ordered to fly with Lawson's crew instead.

The raid was not a success and high winds and 10/10ths cloud caused serious navigational difficulties. Problems with a radio bearing on return saw the crew end up lost and flying over Vichy France.

With fuel running very low they were forced to abandon the aircraft and bale out. Sadly the second pilot, Clifford Onions did not survive the drop and was later found dead on the ground.

All 5 of the survivors were eventually captured although at least one, Harry Mossley, was hidden by a French family for a short while.


Alan Mills tour of operations is shown below

29/30 Aug 1941 -S/L IKP Cross - Le Havre - Unable to locate primary and brought bombs back to base.

31 Aug 1 Sept 1941 -S/L IKP Cross - Essen

7/8 Sept 1941 - S/L IKP Cross - Berlin - Hit by Flak. Unable to reach primary

10/11 Sept 1941 -S/L IKP Cross - Turin

12/13 Sept 1941 -S/L IKP Cross - Frankfurt - Aborted - General recall, Bombed Ostend

26/27 Sept 194 -S/L IKP Cross - Cologne

12/13 Oct 1941 - P/O DM Jones - Bremen

13/14 Oct 1941 - P/O DM Jones - Dusseldorf

17/18 Oct 1941 - P/O DM Jones - Duisberg

20/21 Oct 1941 - P/O DM Jones - Emden

24/25 Oct 1941 -S/L IKP Cross - Frankfurt - Did not take off

7/8 Nov 1941 - P/O EV Lawson - Mannheim - Failed to return – See details above


Escape and Evasion

Mills was captured and held as a POW at Fort de la Revere, Alpes-Maritimes but escaped on the 5 September 1942. He was hidden in the home Mr Nouveau at 28A, quai de Rive-Neuve, Marseille for some days from the 2 October 1942. He was one of a group of over 30 RAF airmen who were picked up in October 1942 from the coast of southern France at Canet Plage near Perignan by a small former Morrocan fishing vessel renamed the Seawolf in a special operation organised by SOE and the Pat O'Leary group working in occupied Europe. This was a highly secret clandestine plan referred to as Operation Rosalind. Mills was taken to Gibraltar and was soon back in England.

Prisonners Revere 1942-2 (1)

Prisonners Revere 1942-1

Above - Prisoners on parade at Fort de la Revère 1942

The Seawolf was a former Moroccan boat operating out of Gibraltar and with several other similar vessels was involved in many covert SOE operations around the Western Mediterranean coastlines of North Africa, Eastern Spain and Southern France.

Compiled by David Fell with photos from my archive. Thanks to Philippe Thomassin, Adjoint au Chef de Service, Direction de la Culture, Service du Patrimoine Culturel, Département des Alpes-Maritimes for his input.



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