- Donald Edward Garland
Donald Edward Garland Born 28 June 1918
Died 12 May 1940 (aged 21)
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.
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.
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
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (1981, 1988 and 1997)
- The Irish Sword (Brian Clark 1986)
- Irelands VCs ISBN 1-899243-00-3 (Dept of Economic Development 1995)
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross (Richard Doherty & David Truesdale, 2000)
- Rene Torsin
- Flying Officer D.E. Garland & Sergeant T. Grey in The Art of War exhibition at the UK National Archives
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