War Memorial in Embankment - Eigenbilzen
Every year we commemorate with a silent memorial and in the presence of the British war veteran Michael Pitt the crews that lost their lives on May 12, 1940 in their mission to destroy the bridges over the Albert Canal. One of them crashed in Eigenbilzen.
May 10th, 1940 German troops get the bridges of Briegden, Veldwezelt and Vroenhoven intact in hands. The bridges provide the Germans an easy passage with their invasion force.
Already on May 11, the Belgian Air Force still tried to destroy the bridges over the Albert Canal using bombers and thus complicate the German military walking, but this without result. On May 12, five planes took off in France. They were part of the British Expedition Force, stationed in France and belonging to the No.12 Squadron. They were instructed to carry out a second attack on the two iron bridges in Vroenhoven and Veldwezelt.
The last two days the Germans had sufficient time to place air defense around the bridges, so the British planes had no chance. Only one of the five planes returned from his mission.
One of the demolished planes was from Sergeant - pilot Fred Marland which crashed into the embankment in Eigenbilzen, at the level of the current Heseputterstraat.
The three crewmembers died:
- Sergeant (Pilot) Fred Marland, RAF 514 450, 12 Sqdn. (28 years)
- Sergeant (Obs.) Kenneth D. Footner, RAF 580423, 12 Sqdn. (24 years)
- Leading Aircraftman (W. Op. [Air]) John L. Perrin, RAF 537397, 12 Sqdn. (22 years)
The Fairey Battle Mk.I: with tag L5227 was lost. The three pilots were buried at the spot where the plane crashed. Already in 1941 and under full occupation appeared the first memorial, six years after their burial in the embankment, the crew was unearthed in November 1946. They will be placed on the British cemetery in Heverlee.
In the 80's the "Patriotic Association Forgotten War Commemoration' from Mopertingen took the old memorial stones from oblivion and placed a beautiful memorial wall with text plate at the old memorial. Since 2007, our club took the responsibility to make the monument ready for the commemoration and to improve the access road. In 2009 an information board revealed on the site explaining the events of that particular May 12, 1940.