GEORGE MILLAR DSO MC C de G Legion d’ Honneur
Capt George Millar was was serving as an infantry officer with 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade in January 1942, when he was compromised and captured while on a reconnaissance patrol inside Libya. As a regular officer he was taken to Rommel’s headquarters for tea, and after their meeting, Rommel handed him over to the Italians, whose job it was to look after POWs.
He was sent to Campo 66 at Capua and, after several attempts to escape, was transferred to the high security camp, Campo 5 at Gavi. In September 1943, after the Italian armistice, Millar was loaded on to a train with other POWs and transported to Germany. During the journey he encountered a former comrade, Wally Binns, and they hatched a plan to leave the train. The pair entered the toilet where Binns tore out the window frame allowing them to leap out onto the track. Once on German soil they made their way to Munich where they made contact with French POWs working on the German railways. The French hid them in freight wagons in which they travelled for over two days in total darkness. They left the carriages near Strasbourg and, after several adventures, Millar made contact with a Resistance group.
False papers were created then, with more help from the Resistance, Millar travelled to Paris and then Lyon. In Lyon he worked as a deaf and dumb waiter in a cafe/brothel – often serving Germans. Next, followed a move to a safe-house at Annecy where he was collected in by the Pat O’Leary Line and taken to Perpignan near the French/Spanish border. There he waited for a guide to take him to Spain. After two unsuccessful attempts Millar finally joined a group of RAF and USAAF aircrew, and crossed into Spain in December 1943.
Following long debriefings and interrogations by MI9 who were finally satisfied that he had actually escaped from Germany, as it was notoriously difficult to traverse Germany as an escaper, Millar was awarded a Military Cross.
After his escape Millar became restless and applied for Special Duties. Due to his escape experience his application was passed to F Section, of the Special Operations Executive. The initial interview went badly – he had been ordered to attend in civilian clothing but turned up in uniform with a swagger stick! Despite the interviewing officer’s reservations he was offered, and accepted, a job in full knowledge of the fact that the risk of returning from France alive was 50:50.
After extensive training in explosives, sabotage, and other covert activities Millar was dropped into France by parachute a short time before D-Day to work with the French Resistance in the Haute-Saone area. At the end of the war he received the DSO for his Resistance activities. Having been seconded away from his regiment, Millar discovered that he had lost seniority, so decided to leave the army. He wrote three books on his wartime experiences: Horned Pigeon, about his escape from Germany; The Road to Resistance and Maquis, cover his work with the French Resistance. George Millar died on the 26 February 2005.