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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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50 Squadron Crest
17/18.08.1942 No. 50 Squadron Lancaster I R5639 F/O. John Shirley Bunbury

Operation: Osnabrück

Date: 17/18th August 1942 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 50 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: R5639

Code: VN-?

Base: RAF Swinderby, Lincolnshire

Location: Lost without trace (1)

Pilot: F/O. John Shirley Bunbury 101535 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Maurice Patrick Gallagher 574930 RAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Nav: F/O. Alexander Gordon Macdonald AUS/400476 RAAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ashleigh Thomas Mears AUS/405094 RAAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stewart Robertson Mitchell 1058531 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Peter Simpson 965570 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Glyndwr Phillips 630457 RAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed


Page placed in memory of the Father-in-Law of Mr. David Baker - he had been a close friend of the pilot who attended the same boarding school. He plants a cross every Remembrance Sunday for F/O. John Shirley Bunbury - his son-in-law, with his 7 year old grandson now carries on that remembrance.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire at 21:45 hrs to join a stream of 139 aircraft to bomb Osnabrück.

111 crews reported to have accurately bombed the target - 77 homes and 4 military buildings destroyed with a further 125 others seriously damaged - sadly including the main hospital. 7 were killed on the ground with 15 others injured.

The Allies lost 6 aircraft during the operation, 2 Wellingtons from 101 Squadron, a Stirling from 149 Squadron, another Stirling from 214 Squadron and a Polish Wellington from 300 Squadron. 22 crew members killed, 3 PoW, with the crew of the 149 Squadron escaping injury after a crash landing 15 miles from Swaffham in Norfolk.

No night fighter claims for this Lancaster so “possibly” shot down by flak off the Dutch coast as German flak units did make various claims during this operation.

(1) Some reports state that it was shot down by Oblt. Herbert Lütje, a night fighter ace of 8./NJG1 3 km West of Emlichheim, other sources describe that loss as that of a 300 Squadron (P) Wellington Z1409 or that by a flak unit from the 8th Flak Division.

Burial details:

F/O. John Shirley Bunbury. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. Panel 66. Son of Cecil Molesworth Bunbury and Margaret Bunbury, of Upper Norwood, London, England.

Sgt. Maurice Patrick Gallagher. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. Panel 83. Son of John Edwin Gallagher, and of Helen Patricia Gallagher, of Bray, Co. Wicklow, Republic of Ireland.

F/O. Alexander Gordon Macdonald. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. Panel 110. Born on the 11th September 1917 in Kew, Victoria, Australia, the son of Donald Alexander Somertid Macdonald and Florence Emily Macdonald, brother of Miss Heather Macdonald of 86 Wellington Street, Kew, Victoria, Australia. Prior to service employed as a clerk.

Sgt. Ashleigh Thomas Mears. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. Panel 113. Born on the 15th December 1916 at Wellington, New Zealand, the son of Geoffrey and Ethel Maude Mears, husband of Joan Mears, of Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia. Previous to service was employed as a shop assistant.

Sgt. Stewart Robertson Mitchell. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. Panel 89. Son of James P. and Margaret N. Mitchell, of Dunoon, Argyllshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Peter Simpson. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. Panel 93. Son of Peter Simpson, and of Agnes Simpson, of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sgt. Glyndwr Phillips. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. Panel 91. Son of Rees William and Eleanor Amy Phillips, of Broughton, Glamorgan, Wales.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to David Baker who’s father in law attended the same boarding school as the pilot. Also to David Michell who contacted us in March 2017 to advise of an inconsistency regarding the loss. Other sources as quoted below.

KTY 30.10.2016

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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