Operation Loyton - 2 SAS

[ Len Owens (Third from the left) ]

Len Owens (Third from the left) aged 82 has for some time hankered to create a memorial to remember his colleagues who lost their lives during Operation Loyton, an SAS operation which dropped Len and his colleagues from F Squadron Phantom Signals - Sgt. Gerald Davis, Signalman George Johnston and Signalman Peter Bannerman behind enemy lines in the Moussey area of eastern France along with members of 2 SAS.

This whole operation went horribly wrong when the Third Army stopped at Nancy to the west. This pause enabled the Germans to put 2 divisions of troops including one armoured division into the area around Moussey and the Phantom/SAS party along with many members of the resistance were harried, ambushed and attacked from one area to another with the end result of Len's 3 colleagues losing their lives, 31 men from 2 SAS losing theirs and 140 men from over 200 who were Deported from Moussey did not return from the concentration camps.

The creation of the Phantom Memorial Stone which was cut from a much larger slab in the Quarry at Senones a few miles from Moussey represents the resolve of the people of the village to shield the Phantom/SAS party from the enemy. These men from Moussey could have betrayed the soldiers and saved their own lives. They did not and subsequently died horrific deaths in concentration camps. Many men from other villages in the region suffered the same fate.  During the enemy sweep through the area 3 young women from the Special Operations Executive were rounded up and were later executed by lethal injection and their bodies found in a mass grave at Natzweiler concentration camp.

[ The Phantom and SAS Memorial Plaque in Moussey Churchyard  ]

The Phantom Memorial was dedicated on the 14th. June 2003 with a service in the Millennium Chapel and afterwards at the Memorial. A fitting tribute to Len's colleagues who sadly lost their lives nearly 60 years ago. The Phantom Memorial will tell the story of this tragic loss of so many young lives. It will remind future generations of the sacrifices made by ordinary people caught up in the maelstrom of war and be a lasting testimony of resolve and victory against tyranny.

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