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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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12 Squadron Crest
12 Squadron Battle I L5227 PH-J Sgt. Fred Marland

Operation: Albert Canal, Belgium

Date: 12th May 1940 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 12 Squadron (AASF - Advanced Air Striking Force)

Type: Battle I

Serial: L5227

Code: PH-J

Base: RAF Amifontaine, Northern France

Location: Eigenbilzen, Belgium

Pilot: Sgt. Fred Marland 514450 RAF Age 28. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Kenneth Douglas Footner 580423 RAF Age 24. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC. John Lawrence Perrin 537397 RAF Age 22. Killed


Orders were received for an immediate attack on the bridges at Veldwezelt and Vroenhoven over the Albert Canal in Belgium. The enemy were using these to pour troops over to assist in the spearhead. 

Above left: Sgt. Marland with right, bridge at Vroenhoven.

Due to previous heavy losses by the anti-aircraft until in the area, volunteers were requested even though they would receive an escort from 1 Squadron Hurricanes. All crews volunteered - 6 were chosen from the duty roster, of which 5 actually took part. 1 of the aircraft suffered a technical fault leaving 5 to proceed.

The devastating fire from the flak units claimed 4 of the attacking force with another shot down by Fw. Otto Sawallisch of 2./JG27.

6 crew were killed, 7 made PoW, 2 others made it back to allied lines.

The first Victoria Cross of the war for aircrew was posthumously awarded to two airman from one of these crews, although the 3rd member did not receive anything - apparently as he was not a decision maker for the action!

(1) The family of Sgt. Kenneth Footner were to suffer another devastating blow later in the war. Their other son, 25 year old Sgt. Glen Malcolm Footner was listed as missing on the 11th April 1942. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial - no further details available.

Burial details:

Sgt. Fred Marland. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.4. Son of Albert and Minnie Marland, of Oldham, Lancashire, husband of Evelyn Marland, of Oldham, England.

Sgt. Kenneth Douglas Footner. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.5. Son of H. F. and Margaret Footner, of Paignton, Devon, England.

LAC. John Lawrence Perrin. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.6. Son of Alfred Edward and Minnie Perrin, of Norwood Green, Southall, Middlesex, England.

For further details our thanks Michel Beckers for photographs and to the sources quoted below. Also to the Belgian Living History Association and the Wickenby Register.

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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