207 Squadron RAF Association - Visit to Belgium May 2005
Friday May 6th 2005 - CWGC Cemetery Heverlee
Victoria Cross Graves in the Cemetery

During this visit, we went to this cemetery to honour those of 207 Squadron who are buried here. We took the opportunity to pay our respects at these VC graves, perhaps representing all who died in the service of their country, often in cases where utmost gallantry was also shown.

MANSER VC, LESLIE THOMAS Flying Officer (Pilot) RAFVR 50 Sqdn.

Age: 20 died 31/05/1942
Service No: 66542
Son of Thomas James Stedman Manser and Rosaline Manser, of Radlett, Hertfordshire.
Grave/Memorial Reference: 7.G.1.
Manchester ZN-D L7301

Citation: The citation in the London Gazette of 20th October, 1942 gives the following details: "Flying Officer Manser was captain and first pilot of an aircraft which took part in the mass raid on Cologne on the night of 30th May, 1942. Despite searchlights and intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire he held his course and bombed the target successfully from 7,000 feet. Thereafter, although he took evasive action, the aircraft was badly damaged, for a time one engine and part of one wing were on fire, and in spite of all the efforts of pilot and crew, the machine became difficult to handle and lost height. Though he could still have parachuted to safety with his crew, he refused to do so and insisted on piloting the aircraft towards its base as long as he could hold it steady, to give his crew a better chance of safety when they jumped. While the crew were descending to safety, they saw the aircraft, still carrying the gallant captain, plunge to earth and burst into flames. In pressing home his attack in the face of strong opposition, in striving against heavy odds to bring back his aircraft and crew, and finally, when in extreme peril, thinking only of the safety of his comrades, Flying Officer Manser displayed determination and valour of the highest order."

The life of Les Baveystock, one of those Manser saved by his action.
Representation of Manser's aircraft

GARLAND VC, DONALD EDWARD Flying Officer (Pilot) RAF 12 Sqdn.

Age: 21 died 12/05/1940
Service No: 40105
Son of Patrick Joseph Garland, C.M.G., and of Winifred Irene Garland, of East Finchley, Middlesex. His brothers, Flt. Lieut. Patrick James Garland, Flt. Lieut. John Cuthbert Garland and Pilot Offr. Desmond William Garland, also died on service.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Coll. grave 6.F.14-16.
Battle P2204 PH-K

Citation: The citation in the London Gazette for 11th June, 1940, gives the following details: "Flying Officer Garland was the pilot and Sergeant Gray the observer of the leading machine of a formation of five aircraft that were ordered to destroy at all costs a bridge over the Albert Canal which had not been demolished by the land forces and was allowing the Germans to advance into Belgium. In spite of very heavy defence of the area surrounding the bridge, the formation made a successful dive-bombing attack from the lowest practicable altitude, after releasing their bombs they were attacked by a large number of enemy fighters. Only one aircraft of the five returned to its base. Much of the success of the operation must be attributed to the formation leader, Flying Officer Garland, and to the coolness and resource of Sergeant Gray, who navigated the leading aircraft under most difficult conditions in such a manner that the whole formation, although it subsequently suffered heavy losses, was able successfully to attack the target."

GRAY VC, THOMAS Sergeant (Observer) RAF Age: 26

died 12/05/1940
Service No: 563627
Son of Ernest Arthur and Susannah Mary Gray, of Odd Down, Bath, Somerset.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Coll. grave 6.F.14-16.
Battle P2204 PH-K

Citation: as for F/O Garland above

possibly unique - Garland VC and Gray VC, two VCs in the same crew, side by side: we laid a poppy at each VC's grave as a token of respect.

link: 207 Squadron RAF History

images: Alkins, Haslam

last update 29 Jul 05