Lincolnshire Remembers: The bravery of four brothers who fought and died with Bomber Command

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With Remembrance Day around the corner, Lincolnshire Reporter has teamed up with the International Bomber Command Centre to bring you some of the most heartbreaking stories of bravery by those flying with Bomber Command.

All four stories published over the next few days will chart the tales of brothers who fought and ultimately died for this country, and today features the Garland brothers.

Donald, Desmond, John and Patrick Garland

The four brothers, all of Irish descent, all sadly passed away during their service in World War Two.

Ironically, the youngest brother died first, the eldest last.

Below are their individual tales.


Donald Garland

Flying Officer Donald Garland was assigned to 12 Squadron, Bomber Command at the age of 21.

On May 12, 1940, he was detailed for a raid on two strategic bridges crossing the Albert Canal in Belgium which were being used for the movement of troops by the invading army.

Donald and his compatriots were tasked with bombing and destroying the bridges, which were heavily defended by fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft installations and machine guns. Donald led the attack.

They flew Fairey Battle aircraft which even at the beginning of the war were desperately slow and outclassed by German fighters.

On arriving at low altitude over the target they met with a hail of fire but attacked the bridges nonetheless.

As they left the target area they were engaged by multiple fighters and were tragically shot down. Only one of the five aircraft returned.

Donald and his fellow crew member, Sergeant Thomas Grey, were both awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions.


Desmond Garland

Donald’s brother, Pilot Officer Desmond Garland, was also with Bomber Command (50 Squadron).

Desmond died on June 5, 1942 whilst laying mines off Lorient, France.

His body was never found and he is commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial.

John Garland

Flight Lieutenant John Garland was a RAF Medical Officer.

John died on February 28, 1943, however the details of his loss are unknown.

He lies in Midhurst Cemetery, Sussex.

There will be a number of services and tributes across the county on Remembrance Day

There will be a number of services and tributes across the county on Remembrance Day

Patrick Garland

Flight Lieutenant Patrick Garland was a pilot with the Two Squadron Tactical Reconnaissance Unit, Fighter Command.

He was killed in action on January 1, 1945 and is buried in Bergen op Zoom Cemetery, Holland.

By then the Allied forces had liberated the southern parts of Holland and Gilze-Reijen airfield became Patrick’s base.

On return from a reconnaissance sortie, his aircraft bounced on landing, stalled and crashed upside down, killing him instantly.

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