Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1940, Leading Aircraftman Lawrence Royston Reynolds, Flying Officer Donald Edward Garland V.C. and Sergeant Thomas Gray V.C., No. 12 Squadron, Royal Air Force, died when their plane was shot down near Lanaken in the Netherlands.
Flying from their base near the village of Amifontaine in France, they were on a mission to demolish a bridge over the Albert Canal, which was being used by the invading army. Although they encountered fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft guns and machine-guns, their mission was successful, but at the loss of four other planes. Flying Officer Garland and Sergeant Gray were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions that day. All three are buried in the Heverlee War Cemetery at Leuven in Belgium.
Leading Aircraftman Reynolds, wireless operator and air gunner, received no recognition which was later considered to be one of the great injustices of the war. On his headstone are the words, “In proud and loving memory, always in our thoughts”. From Onslow village, Guildford, in Surrey, Lawrence was 20 years old.
Flying Officer Garland attended Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Holland Park, then worked in an insurance office before joining the R.A.F.. His three brothers also served in the R.A.F. during the war, and all were killed in action. On his headstone are the words: “To his glorious memory. At rest with his three brothers. Thy will be done.” From Ballincor in County Wexford, Ireland, Donald was 21 years old.
Sergeant Gray was one of seven sons, five of whom joined the R.A.F. - two of his brothers were also killed in action. He was educated at Warminster Secondary School then went on to train as an aero engine fitter II. On the day of his death he was navigator on the flight, and it was his first and only operational sortie. From Urchfont in Wiltshire, Thomas was 25 years old.