06/07.01.1945 No. 51 Squadron Halifax III MZ811 MH-X P/O. Bunn
Operation: Hanau, Germany
Date: 6/7th January 1945 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 51 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: R.A.F. Snaith, Yorkshire
Location: Weiskirchen, Germany
Pilot: P/O. Sidney John Bunn 182353 R.A.F.V.R. Age 24. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Harry Hardwick 948660 R.A.F.V.R. Age 24. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. H. R. Smith R.A.F.V.R. Age ? P.O.W (No further details)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Terence William Richards 1339173 R.A.F.V.R. Age 20. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles G. Green 1382017 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? P.O.W. (No further details)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. N. Wilcock 1623765 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? P.O.W. No. 150025 Dulag Luft Interrogation Centre and Stalag Luckenwalde
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roy Venables Snell Wilson 1894557 R.A.F.V.R. Age 19. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 15.42hrs on January 6th 1945 carrying one 2000lb high-capacity bomb and eleven Mk 14 cluster-type incendiaries. The attack comprised 313 other Halifaxes, 154 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitos from 1, 4, 6 and 8 Groups – 482 aircraft in all. 4 Halifaxes and 2 Lancasters were lost, representing 1.2% of the total force.
The raid concentrated on an important railway junction in Hanau, and although many bombs did hit the target, many others were scattered in the centre of the city and in countryside to the north. Around 40% of Hanau was destroyed, and 90 people died. Also badly hit was the village of Mittelbuchen.
MZ811 was hit by incendiary flak shortly after releasing its bomb load. The starboard inner engine was blown out of the wing and the wings, one engine and the fuselage caught fire. Fl/Sgt. Smith and Richards, and Sgt. Green and Wilcock all baled out safely before the aircraft hit the ground at around 19.25hrs. The location of the crash according to German records was 100 metres from Seligenstaedter Str. in Weiskirchen (1)
Left: P/O. Sidney John Bunn (courtesy 51 Squadron History Society)
Reports suggest that Fl/Sgt. Richards was murdered soon after capture. Sgt. Wilcock was badly beaten by civilians before being taken into custody. Sgt. Green was initially taken to the German Army Barracks at Vilbel, but his injuries, possibly caused by civilians, kept him hospitalised until Liberation. Fl/Sgt. Smith was also hospitalised until the end of the war.
On May 18th 1945 Charlie Green wrote an emotional letter to the mother of Sidney Bunn, explaining the circumstances of her son’s death. In it he praised P/O. Bunn’s bravery and described how he had remained onboard the aircraft to help Roy Wilson, who was trapped in the rear turret, and Harry Hardwick, who ‘lost his head’ in the panic to bale out.
Sgt. Green gave a full account of P/O. Bunn’s bravery to the R.A.F. but no posthumous award was ever forthcoming.
Snaith Knights book is published along with others to raise money for the memorial to 51 Squadron crews. Email us for further information where you can purchase a copy.
These grave photographs (available in high definition) were taken especially for Aircrew Remembered by David Franklin. David has kindly provided permission to supply them to relatives when requested.
P/O. Bunn – Dürnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bavaria, Germany, Grave 7. A. 23.
Son of Sidney William and Alice Margaret Bunn; husband of Joan Dorothy Bunn of Salisbury.
Sgt. Hardwick – Dürnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bavaria, Germany, Grave 7. A. 25.
Son of Francis Henry and Mary Ellen Hardwick of Newhall, Derbyshire.
Fl/Sgt. Richards – Commemorated on Panel 272 of the Runnymede Memorial, Cooper’s Hill, Englefield Green, Surrey.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Richards of Newport, Monmouthshire.
Sgt. Wilson – Dürnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bavaria, Germany, Grave 7. A. 24.
Son of Alec Henry and Marjorie Jane Wilson of Ealing, Middlesex.
Article prepared by Jeremy Nicholson with material supplied by 51 Squadron History Society.
With thanks to the following, David Franklin, 51 Squadron History Society, Bill Chorley – ‘Bomber Command Losses Vol. 6’, (1) Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie – ‘Nightfighter War Diaries Vol’s. 1 and 2’, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt ‘Bomber Command War Diaries’. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.