Through my own service in the Royal Air Force, which coincidently also included serving at Honington, and subsequent contact with ex-colleagues, my work with groups following the WW2 escape routes and a new project partnership Gilles Collaveri of https://aerocherche.fr/ together we have literally unearthed a remarkable story.
The 364th Fighter Group flew 342 missions in P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs from Honington, Suffolk, England. Their tasks ranged from escorting bombers and dive-bombing and strafing targets to area patrol missions across a swathe of land that took in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Capt Paul S Miller had served 3 years 2 months by this point, flying 96 combat missions in the Pacific Theatre. This was to be his third sortie in the European Theatre of Operations. Capt Miller took off in a P38 fighter from Honington (Troston) at approximately 10h00 on March 5th 1944 on a fighter escort mission to Bordeaux, SW France. Miller had encountered German fighters, seemed to have damaged fuel tanks because he had insufficient 'gas' to make it back to England. His leader instructed him to fly south, to head for Spain. A lonely, desperate journey began. Near Orthez, chased by FW190s, Miller was flying on fumes, so he had to quickly choose a suitable landing site....
Sunday 24th January 2021, Escos, SW France.
On the left is a gentleman who on that Sunday, 5th March 1944 sat, as a four-year-old, in the cockpit of Capt Miller's P38 fighter that had just crash-landed, successfully, largely intact on the spot where he now stands. So inspired by the experience, he went on to become a Mirage/Jaguar pilot himself.
Capt MILLER himself had that Sunday just ran into the woods beyond, to begin an amazing escape, helped by local families, a 5-day route of 80+km 4000m+/- height difference over the local hills and mountains to Spain.
His escape story can be found below.
We managed yesterday to find small pieces of aluminum that we believe are from Miller's P38, which had been dismantled and cut-up by the German military in the field. The pieces found will be analysed in Toulouse to hopefully verify the origin of manufacture was indeed the USA. We hope in the near future to enable Capt Miller's daughter and grandchildren to visit this site and to follow the steps and stops, the small local stories of their father/grandfather's exploits, and of those who so bravely helped him on his way.
Read here a summary of the moving story and the context behind Capt Miller's remarkable escape: