12/13.08.1944 51 Squadron Halifax II MZ349 MH:U Flt Lt. Alexander Hannay
Date: 12th/13th August 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 51 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire
Pilot: Flt Lt. ‘Bob’ Alexander Hannay 120473 RAFVR Age 25. PoW No. 7342 * (1)
Flt Eng: Sgt. Jack Gregory 1005552 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Nav: Fg Off. Robert Alexander McDonald J28828 RCAF Age? PoW No. 7482 *
Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Edmund Thomas Tunstall 152827 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. John Alfred Boyes 1621546 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 554 **
Air Gnr: Fg Off. Anthony Alfred Arthur Bradley 118225 RAFVR Age 34. Missing
Air Gnr: Sgt. Isaac Parker Cundall 1593070 RAFVR PoW No: 567 **
* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
** Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:09 hrs. from Snaith, Yorkshire to join 241 Lancasters and 137 Halifaxes in an experimental raid to establish how they could bomb a target without the aid of pathfinder aircraft and to simply use the H2S Radar.
The H2S radar was used in bombers of RAF Bomber Command. It was designed to identify targets on the ground for night and all-weather bombing. On January 30 1943, H2S radar was used by RAF bombers for navigation for the first time and so became the first ground mapping radar to be used in combat. Initially it was fitted to Stirling and Halifax bombers and provided a ground mapping capability for both navigation and night bombing. This development, using 10 cm radar, (actually 9.1 cm) was possible thanks to the development of the cavity magnetron. Later versions of H2S reduced the wavelength used, first to 3 cm and then 1.5 cm, at which wavelength the system was capable of detecting rain clouds.
The raid was a failure with bombs scattered over a large area with no concentration in fact bombing also took place on other towns some 20 miles away! 99 people were killed on the ground.
The allies lost 27 aircraft with the deaths of 125 aircrew and a further 61 being made PoW.
L-R rear: Fg Off. McDonald, Flt Lt. Hannay, Fg Off. Bradley, Fg Off. Tunstall L-R front: Sgt. Boyes, Sgt. Cundall, Sgt. Gregory (courtesy 51 Squadron History Association)
MZ349 was a probable claim by Uffz Koppelmeyer, his 2nd Abschuss, from 6./NJG1 over the sea NW of Spiekeroog/Wangerooge Islands: 4,500m at 00:55 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (24 July 1944 - 15 October 1944) Part 4 - Theo Boiten).
Fg Off. Bradley and Sgt. Gregory bailed out over the sea but the remainder of the crew remained with the aircraft and all made it into the life raft except Fg Off. Tunstall who's body washed up on the shore on the island of Fanø off the Danish coast.
The aircraft came down at around 02:00 hrs. A Danish fishing boat spotted the life raft and picked up the crew, but when attempting to take them to safety a German patrol boat intercepted them and forced them to hand over the crew at gunpoint.
Interesting as the chaps at 51 Squadron History Association, who we work very closely with, have established that although F/O. Tunstall is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial he was in fact buried on the beach at Fanø, but that the Air Ministry could not find the grave during extensive searches in 1947 - so today he is classed as missing! To reinforce these findings the identity disc belonging to him was returned to the family!
Sgt. John A. Boyes broke into the offices at Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg and stole the prisoner records and handed them out around the camp before escaping - he was captured shortly afterwards and is in contact with our friends at 51 Squadron History Association today.
(1) Flt Lt. Alexander Hannay remained in the RAF after the war for a short period, left, then rejoined in 1949. When stationed at RAF Leeming he was killed in a mid-air collision. Flying a Martinet TTI NR570 whilst with 228 OCU when on the 13th August 1951 they collided with Wellington T10 PG367 from the same unit. Both crew from the Martinet were killed with all but one of the Wellington crew of seven losing their lives
Kirkcolm Cemetery, Stranraer. Son of the late Mr. Willam and Mrs. Mary (née Donaldson) Hannay, Corsewall Mill. Husband of Barbara (née Tully) Hannay
Sgt. Jack Gregory. Kiel War Cemetery Grave 4.E.8. Inscription reads: "IN GOD'S KEEPING". Son of Jack and Ada Gregory, of Brierfield, Nelson, Lancashire, England.
Fg Off. Edmund Thomas Tunstall. Runnymed Memorial. Panel 209. Son of James Miller Tunstall and Mary Esther Tunstall, of Liverpool, England.
Fg Off. Anthony Alfred Arthur Bradley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 204. Born on the 19th December 1909 Norbiton, Surrey. on of Walter Hermit and Edith Alice (née Roper) Bradley. Husband to Emily Elizabeth (Eaglestone) Bradley from Staines, Middlesex, England.
Researched by: 51 Squadron History Association with additional information by the webmaster for relatives of the crew. Thanks to John Jones for the correction to the Night fighter claim (Aug 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Aug 2021). With thanks to sources as quoted below.