207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
Milner Crew, Neaufles St Martin,
near Gisors, France
207 Squadron Lancaster EM-B ND866/G, F/O Michael Milner and crew, crashed after being shot down on 8th July 1944 on a raid on St.Leu d'Esserent, a major V-1 storage and handling facility in enlarged caves in the Oise valley, 48km N of Paris.
It was estimated that St.Leu provided 70% of the V1s then being launched against Britain.
37 of the 221 aircraft taking part were lost, five from 207 Squadron.
This Memorial was erected by the community of Neaufles-St.Martin to the memory of the Milner crew.
The local community suffered badly for the help they gave survivors and the honour they paid to the Allied dead.
The memorial reminds us of the price local people paid for honour under the Nazi yoke.
The inscription reads:
'A LA MEMOIRE Des Aviateurs Du 207 Squadron de la Royal Air Force. Tombés en mission de guerre le 8 Juillet 1944. Milner MN F/O, Miller J F/Sgt, Collings RC Sgt, Jacques BM Sgt, Palmer EW Sgt, Barret AC Sgt. Morts pour la Liberté. Souvenez vous.'
Unveiled on 9th July 1994 - see below.
Google Maps - Neaufles St Martin
photo source: Glynne-Owen
50 YEARS LATER – the 1994 visit
Extracts from the report by the late AVM David Dick, President & Chairman of the Association
Organised by Peter Phelps - himself shot down on 8th July in LM129/EM-Y (F/O Stamp) on one of the raids on St. Leu - and by Claude Le Roux one of our Honorary members, our party of 47 from the Association included eight survivors of the raids; Mike Alderton, George Baker, Derek Brundle, George Chesworth, Peter Curd, Peter Phelps, Bob Webb and Ron Winton (a ninth, Ernie Hay, was at the last minute unable to come).
We also had two brothers of Sgt Collings the Wireless Operator of ND866/EM-B (F/O Milner) which crashed near Neaufles St. Martin, and a cadet from 207 (Cranfield) Sqn ATC. Our principal hosts were the Mayor and citizens of Neaufles St. Martin, where five of F/O Milner’s crew are buried.
Saturday 9th July was to be a long day; being cloudy, it was not too hot. We left our hotel at 0830 for Neaufles Saint Martin 6km away, where the ceremonies began with a Parade of Standards, including that of the RAFA for the Region. We then attended a moving church service and laid our wreaths on the 207 Squadron graves in the churchyard. A short distance away at Bézu-St.-Eloi we laid a wreath on the grave of Sgt Jacques, F/O Milner’s Wireless Operator.
We attended the unveiling close to Neaufles St. Martin of a splendid memorial to the Milner crew at the spot where ND866/EM-B crashed, to which the Association had contributed a stone Squadron crest.
At Courcelles-lès-Gisors we laid wreaths on the graves of four members of a Halifax crew of 76 Sqn from Holme-on-Spalding Moor shot down on the 16th July 1944 attack on Nucourt. This was Halifax MZ524 MP-P (F/O HM Steward): the remaining crew members were taken prisoner. [In the village of Noyers we attended the unveiling of a plaque honouring a truly remarkable lady, Mme Majo Perdereau, whose husband had been was killed in 1940. She was the local village schoolteacher and a key member of the local Resistance movement.
During 1943-44 she sheltered 22 Allied airmen in her house before they were passed along the escape line to Paris. An extremely emotional moment occurred when, immediately after the official ceremony, Peter Phelps discovered that among those had accompanied us to Courcelles-lès-Gisors were two 76 Squadron aircrew who had been sheltered by Mme Perdereau. They came forward to embrace her, one for the first time for 50 years. To show our appreciation of her gallantry we presented Mme Perdereau with a framed certificate with commemorative medallions; she later did us the honour of accepting Honorary Membership of our Association.]
The remainder of the day was taken up with a ‘Vin d’Honneur’ at Neaufles, a seemingly very short rest period and then an unforgettable dinner in Neaufles village hall, which lasted well into the night.
Sunday morning was again sunny. We visited the National Cemetery at Marissel in the city of Beauvais. George Baker, F/O Hordley’s Flight Engineer in ND567/EM-V, laid a wreath at his pilot’s grave and we all paid our respects to the four other members of the crew buried there. A wreath was also laid to F/O HR Briggs’s crew (ME678/EM-N) lost 9-10.6.44 on Étampes.
We had been overwhelmed by the warmth of our welcome and by the friendship and most generous hospitality; our hosts had gone to endless pains on our behalf. We were tired by the physical and emotional intensity of the programme; deeply grateful for the chance to pay tribute to our fallen comrades and to those who, at the greatest personal peril, had cared for them in their adversity; and exhilarated by the friendships and bonds formed - which we must foster.
At the 1994 commemoration the then Mayor of Neaufles-Saint-Martin, Arnaud de Clavière, had this to say in his speech at the unveiling of the memorial to F/O Milner’s crew:
“Those speaking before me have said everything about the circumstances and the basic reasons for this Commemoration. I would just like to add that, if young people have offered to give their lives so that we could live in freedom, we must not just content ourselves with perpetuating their memory.
It is our business, in our everyday lives, to strengthen, reinforce and develop the liberty they gave back to us, so that our children and grandchildren will not have again, one day, to pay such a price to regain it.
May this stone monument, a symbol of solidity, of durability, remind us for a long time of the heroic sacrifice of those who set us free. May it be a witness of our gratitude and our desire to make this liberty last.”
updated 19 Nov 17