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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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51 Squadron Crest
12/13.08.1944 No. 51 Squadron Halifax II MZ349 MH-U Fl/Lt. Alexander Hannay

Operation: Braunschweig

Date: 12/13th August 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: MZ349

Code: MH-U

Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire

Location: Wilhelmshaven-Cuxhaven

Pilot: Fl/Lt. ‘Bob’ Alexander Hannay 120473 RAFVR Age 25. PoW - no details available (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Jack Gregory 1005552 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: F/O. Robert Alexander McDonald J/28828 RCAF PoW No: 7482 Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Air/Bmr: F/O. Edmund Thomas Tunstall 152827 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John A. Boyes 1621546 RAFVR PoW No: 554 Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg

Air/Gnr: F/O. Anthony Alfred Arthur Bradley 118225 RAFVR Age 34. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Isaac P. Cundall 1593070 RAFVR PoW No: 567 Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg

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 (1) sets.

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: F/O. McDonald, Fl/Lt. Hannay, F/O. Bradley, F/O. Tunstall L-R front: Sgt. Boyes, Sgt. Cundall, Sgt. Gregory (courtesy 51 Squadron History Association)

Halifax MZ349 is reported to have been shot down by flak but we have discovered a claim by Uffz. Gunther Schmidt of 8./NJG2 who intercepted the Halifax at 01:43 hrs at 5,100 mtrs. F/O. 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 F/O. 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) Fl/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.

(1) 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.

Burial details:

Sgt. Jack Gregory. Kiel War Cemetery Grave 4.E.8. Son of Jack and Ada Gregory, of Brierfield, Nelson, Lancashire, England.

F/O. Edmund Thomas Tunstall. Runnymed Memorial. Panel 209. Son of James Miller Tunstall and Mary Esther Tunstall, of Liverpool, England.

F/O. Anthony Alfred Arthur Bradley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 204. Son of Walter Hermit Bradley and Edith Alice Bradley.

In 1951 - Fl/Lt. Alexander Hannay. Kirkcolm Cemetery, Stranraer. Son of the late Mr. Willam and Mrs. Mary (née Donaldson) Hannay, Corsewall Mill. Husband of Barbara (née Tully)

Researched by: 51 Squadron History Association with additional information by the webmaster for relatives of the crew. With thanks to sources as quoted below.

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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