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Bristol Blenheim IV P6912 story

On May 10, 1940, Germany attacked Belgium and the Netherlands in the famous Blitzkrieg. Very quickly the German troops pushed through the defense lines and advanced towards the West at a tremendous pace. This was possible because the bridges over the Albert Canal in Vroenhoven and Veldwezelt had fallen intact into the hands of the German "invaders". As early as May 11, the Belgian Military Aviation (with 9 Fairey Battles) and the French Air Force (with LéO 451) tried in vain to destroy the bridges to slow down the German advance. Unfortunately, this did not work and heavy losses were suffered. More about this in a next newsletter. On Sunday morning, May 12, the RAF also attempted to destroy the bridges with Fairey Battles (12 Sqn, based in France) and Bristol Blenheims (15 Sqn). At 7:50 am, 12 Blenheims take off from the British base at Alconbury (UK) to destroy the bridges over the Albert Canal. The previously damaged bridges are quickly repaired by the Germans to allow heavier tanks to advance. The entire operation is a failure and many aircraft are shot down by the strong German anti-aircraft defenses. This includes Blenheim P6912, which had three young crew members on board: Pilot Officer Claude Frankish (NZ), Sergeant Edwin Roberts (UK) and Leading Aircraftman Ernest Cooper (UK). The aircraft was on its way back and fell in Kattevennen-Genk (see photos). The young crew who died were temporarily buried on site and transferred to Leopoldsburg's War Cemetery after the war. For a long time the crash site had not been accurately determined, but through in-depth research and the discovery of debris, the exact location could be pinpointed. On Friday afternoon, July 5 (just before the Fly-In), a memorial monument for this young crew will be inaugurated at that location by the City of Genk and the organizing committee. Afterwards, the only flying-worthy Blenheim will be welcomed to Zwartberg, who will fly over from Duxford especially for the occasion and will become the theme of our Fly-In/Open Door 2024 (see poster). This Blenheim can be viewed and visited all weekend long. A “memory corner” will also be set up for the crew and memorabilia from this special Blenheim will be available. A virtual museum will also be established, where the entire raid will be flown virtually again. Let us en masse remember and honor the young crew of the crashed P6912, whose average age was 25 years, for their commitment to flying for our freedom.






▲ Bristol Blenheim IV *


▲ Crashsite Kattevennen *


▲ Locatie Kattevennen *

* All rights reserved

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