Sergeant Douglas McMillan D.F.M.

Sergeant Air Gunner Douglas William McMillan, D.F.M., Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve. He was lost on an Air Operation over France with 78 Squadron R.A.F. on 14th March 1944, aged 26. He had been born in Fossoway, Kinross to Douglas and Mary McMillan of St. Boswells and is buried in Le Mans West Cemetery, Le Mans, France. Before volunteering for the R.A.F. he had been employed as a Civil Servant in Greenock. He was lost on an Operation to raid the Railway Yards at Le Mans, France as part of the interdiction campaign on the run up to the Normandy landings in June 1944. His aircraft was hit by flak and crashed in the target area. Two crew members survived to become prisoners of war. He had won his Distinguished Flying Medal for his actions on the night of 21/22 January 1944 and the citation reads ”   This Officer ( F/O. Norman Marston )and airman were air bomber and mid upper gunner respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack Magdeburg. On the outward flight the aircraft was attacked by a fighter and damage was sustained. In spite of this the mission was continued and the target successfully attacked. On the homeward flight whilst over the North Sea the petrol supply became exhausted and the aircraft had to be brought down on the sea. This was skilfully accomplished but the violence of the waves broke the aircraft in two and the dingy broke away. Undaunted F/O Marston and Sergeant McMillan discarded most of their equipment and plunged into the water and swam towards the dingy. They succeeded in reaching it and although almost exhausted scrambled aboard. Although numb with cold and greatly fatigued they struggled valiantly against the violent seas to return to the sinking aircraft but their efforts were in vain. In most distressing circumstances the Officer and airman displayed great courage and resolution and their conduct was worthy of the highest praise “.  The two survivors were rescued by a Royal Navy destroyer. ( Flying Officer Marston was killed on Operations in May 1944 ). His Headstone at Le Mans is inscribed ” A Smile For All A Heart Of Gold One Of The Best This World Did Hold”.(78 Squadron flew the Handley Page Halifax BV1 from R.A.F. Breighton, Yorkshire. During the War the Squadron flew on 302 raids, destroyed 35 enemy aircraft and lost 182 bombers.

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