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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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12 Squadron Crest
07/08.01.1945 No. 12 Squadron Lancaster I PB851 PH-S F/O. Robert D.K. Hanbridge

Operation: München

Date: 07/08th January 1945 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 12 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: PB851

Code: PH-S

Base: RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire.

Location: Hackerbrücke, Munich

Pilot: F/O. Robert Donald Keith Hanbidge J/88499 RCAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Rickeard 617244 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. George Flaxman 1578541 RAFVR Age 36. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Henry Croucher 1566946 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Noel Gordon Prescott 1582098 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Gynane  J/95297 RCAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Grant Durnan J/95296 RCAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Lancaster I PB851 PH-S left RAF Wickenby at 18:33 hrs. on an operation to München. 645 lancasters taking part on this operation, together with 9 Mosquitoes.

Crew of Lancaster I PB851 showing L-R rear: Sgt. Robert Rickeard, F/O. Robert Hanbidge, Johnson (listed as spare man so it would seem that Fl/Sgt. Prescott took his place on this flight) Front: Fl/Sgt. John Gynane, Fl/Sgt. Henry Croucher, Fl/Sgt. George Flaxman, Fl/Sgt. Grant Durnan (courtesy Mary Jane Pfeifer) This photo shows them in front of LM509. PH-M - Minnie The Moocher.

Claimed as a successful raid with the areas being severely damaged. This being the last major raid of the war to München. Some 503 people being killed on the ground, 984 injured and a further 70,000 being made homeless.

PB851 was for sure shot down by either Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt (1) of 2./NJG6 or Ofw. Gunther Bahr (2) of 3./NJG6 with combat taking place at around 22:30 hrs. The aircraft crashed at 22:35 hrs at Hackerbrücke, Munich.

Above: Fl/Sgt. Prescott in centre with his parents and two of his original crew. 

Above: The original crew with Fl/Sgt. Prescott 2nd right, back row - it is thought that this original crew survived the war.

Fl/Sgt. Prescott centre row, 2nd from right, taken during training (courtesy Julia Fordham)

Fl/Sgt. Prescott - last entry in log book (courtesy Julia Fordham)

(1) A total of 15 claims by Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt were confirmed - he survived the war.

(2) 37 confirmed kills by Ofw. Gunther Bahr, he also survived.

Operations flown by this crew:

28th October 1944 - Cologne - LM509 PH-M (Minnie the Moocher)
30th October 1944 - Cologne - JB559 PH-Z
31st October 1944 - Cologne - PD369 PH-1
4th November 1944 - Bochum - PD207 PH-W
6th November 1944 - Gelsenkirchen - PD275 PH-K
9th November 1944 - Wanne Eickel - PD207 PH-W
27th November 1944 - Frieberg - PB476 PH-Y
29th November 1944 - Dortmund - PB476 PH-Y
4th December 1944 - Karlsruhe - ME316 PN-V
28th December 1944 - Bonn - ME323 PH-P
31st December 1944 - Osterfeld - PB476 PH-Y
5th January 1945 - Royan - ME316 PH-V
7th January 1945 Munich - PB851 PH-S (lost without a trace)

Burial details:

F/O. Robert Donald Keith Hanbidge. Runnymede Memorial Panel 279. Son of Robert Leith Hanbidge Q.C. and Jane Hanbidge. Of Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. His father, known as Dinnie to all, was Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan in the early 1960’s.

Sgt. Robert Rickeard. Runnymede Memorial Panel 276. Son of John and Sarah Rickeard and husband of Mary Rickeard of Annitsford, Northumberland.

Fl/Sgt. George Flaxman. Runnymede Memorial Panel 271. Further information: Son of Frederick Lewis and Hannah Flaxman and brother of Elsie and Margaret Flaxman of Derby. (A family superstition handed down over the generations was that his sister Elsie burning some cabbage trimmings on the fire caused George’s loss)

Fl/Sgt. Henry Croucher. Runnymede Memorial Panel 270. Son of Albert Sidney and Jane Croucher of Newcastle on Tyne.

Fl/Sgt. Noel Gordon Prescott. Runnymede Memorial Panel 272. Further information: Son of Robert James and Mary Prescott and brother of Robert and Margaret Prescott of Spalding, Lincolnshire.

His parents ran a sweet shop in Spalding, Lincolnshire. Noel was known as Gordon by his family. Worked as a linotype operator for the Spalding Free Press and had a reputation for having lots of girlfriends. He joined the RAF in 1943 and 12 Squadron in 1944. After being involved in a motorcycle accident near Sleaford and breaking his leg, on his recovery he was assigned to a new crew flying under Flying Officer Hanbidge from September 1944.

Fl/Sgt. John Gynane. Runnymede Memorial Panel 280. Son of John Edward and Alice Ann Gynane of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. of Peterborough, Ontario.

Fl/Sgt. Grant Durnan. Runnymede Memorial Panel 280. Son of Leslie and Mary Durnan of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Researched by Linda Ibrom for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to relatives of the crew. Photo credits and information of Flight Sergeant Noel Prescott to Julia Fordham. Information on operations flown by this crew from Mark Morton, great nephew of Flight Sergeant Flaxman. In November 2015 the niece of the pilot, Mary Jane Pfeifer contacted us and submitted the crew photo that her grandmother kept and recently discovered - she removed the photo from the frame and discovered all the names had been written on the back. 

KTY 15.11.2015 - New crew photo added courtesy Mary Jane Pfeiffer, plus map.

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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