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12 June 1942: RAF Drops French Flag on Occupied Paris, Strafes Gestapo HQ

Although it was reported publicly at the time, Wing Commander Ken Gatward's incredible act of badassery on 12 June 1942 fell out of the public eye until his medals recently came up for auction. During the war, he and his crew flew right over Paris in the middle of a German parade and dropped a huge French flag on the Arc de Triomphe. Then he started killing Nazis. The Daily Telegraph describes the battle:

The British had been informed the Germans held daily parades down the Champs-Elysees and he was asked to strafe the parade. [...]

After reaching Paris, he flew at just 30ft before Ft Sgt released the flag down the flare shute and over the Arc de Triomphe.

Mr Grinter said: "It is an amazing story - one of those that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

"He flew down the Champs-Elysees at second floor window height. It was an incredible act of bravery and a real audacious attack.

"He attacked the Gestapo HQ and SS troops were seen to run for their lives. As he turned for home the Germans came out and shook their fists at him.

"The attack gave Parisians one of the greatest thrills of the war and had a huge effect on the morale of the French and at home."

Gatward was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions during the war.

Link -via Ace of Spades HQ | Images: Beaufighter Squadrons by Simon Parry


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