Donald Edward Garland

Donald Edward Garland
Donald Edward Garland
Born 28 June 1918 (1918-06-28)
Ballincor Ireland
Died 12 May 1940 (1940-05-13) (aged 21)
Lanaken Belgium
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1937-1940
Rank Flying Officer
Unit 12 Squadron
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Victoria Cross

Donald Edward Garland VC (28 June 1918 - 12 May 1940) born in Ballincor, County Wicklow, Garland was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Victoria Cross

He was 21 years old, and a Flying Officer in No. 12 Squadron, Royal Air Force during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 12 May 1940, over the Albert Canal, Belgium, two bridges, Veldwezelt and Vroenhoven, were being used by the invading army, with protection from fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft and machine-guns. The RAF was ordered to demolish one of these vital bridges, and five Fairey Battle bombers were despatched with Flying Officer Garland leading the attack. They met an inferno of anti-aircraft fire, and the bridge was hit but not put out of commission. Garland and his navigator, Sergeant Thomas Gray, attacked the bridge at Veldwezelt. They died either crashing in the village of Lanaken, or in the hospital in Maastricht, Netherlands. Only one bomber managed to return to base.

Garland is buried at the Heverlee War Cemetery near Leuven in Belgium.[1]

Both Garland and Gray were awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. Leading Aircraftman Reynolds, the third member of the crew, did not receive a medal because he was not in a "decision making" position. Garland's Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, England.


A Vickers VC-10 Serial 'XR807' of 101 Squadron is named 'Donald Garland VC & Thomas Gray VC'

During 2005, to mark its 90th anniversary, No.12 Squadron RAF flew a Tornado GR4 with Fg Off Garland and Sgt Gray's name painted under its cockpit as a mark of respect.

There is a monument on the bridge to the operation.


Listed in order of publication year

External links

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