Nottingham

World War II airman laid to rest with his bomber crew in France

Ceremony for Herbert Spiller at Nant-le-Grand in northern France
Image caption Spiller's ashes were interred at the civilian cemetery at Nant-le-Grand

The daughter of a late World War II Nottinghamshire airman has paid tribute to the French village where he was laid to rest with his fallen comrades.

Herbert John Spiller, of Bingham, was the navigator of a Halifax bomber shot down by a Luftwaffe night fighter over northern France in October 1942.

Spiller, who escaped back to Britain, died in August aged 90.

In October his ashes were interred alongside his friends who died in the battle at Nant-le-Grand.

His daughter, Laura Grey, said she was carrying out his final wish.

'Extraordinary tribute'

Warrant Officer Spiller's aeroplane was shot down over occupied France whilst on a mission to Italy.

Image caption Mr Spiller recounted his story in the book Ticket to Freedom, published in 1988

With the help of villagers who fed him, disguised him and dressed his wounds, he made his way to Paris where he met up with the French Resistance.

He never forgot his rescue and returned to France with his family in 1965 to thank those who had enabled his escape.

Mr Spiller, who received the distinguished flying medal, made it clear to his daughter at a 1992 ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the crash in Nant-le-Grand that he wanted to be reunited with his crew in the village's civilian cemetery when he died.

Relations of the crew and the children of those who took Mr Spiller into their home on the night of the crash attended the ceremony in France on 22 October.

"I had an idea that they would put on a show but when we got out of the car there were 25 flag bearers, a military band and all of the village - it was just awesome really," said his daughter.

"It was an extraordinary tribute not just to my father but to the crew and all the RAF that helped the French return to freedom.

"I'm thrilled that we've done what he wanted. He couldn't have had a better show."

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