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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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61 Squadron Crest
26/27.08.1940 No. 61 Squadron Hampden I P4324 QR-P F/O. Peter D. Tunstall

Operation: Merseburg

Date: 26/27th August 1940 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 61 Squadron

Type: Hampden MkI

Serial: P4324

Code: QR-P

Base: RAF Hemswell

Location: Vliehors, Holland

Pilot: F/O. Peter David Tunstall 70824 RAF PoW No: 258 Camp: Stalag Saalhaus Colditz - O4C (Obituary)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Edward Murdock 565268 RAF PoW No: 225 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug - 357

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Michael J. Joyce RAF PoW No: Camp: Dulag Luft - No details (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John W. Brock 743038 RAF PoW No: 729 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug - 357

REASON FOR LOSS:

Hampden Mk.I, P4324, QR-"P" (for Peter), of No. 61 Sqdn.,7 Aug. 1940 - In the early morning, after a nightly air raid on Merseburg/Germany it force landed on the Vliehorst (beach) of Vlieland isle, because the aircraft was running out of fuel (due to a long flight,§ under bad weather conditions).

The bomber was captured intact by the Germans soon after the pilot had launched a "red light" (flare) as a sign to destroy the plane to the two crew members left guarding it. He and another of the crew, an Irishman, were trying to find out "where in England" they had landed, but discovered that they were in fact in Holland!

Above: F/O. Peter David Tunstall, who gained quite a remarkable reputation during his Colditz stay!

The crew were captured by Germans of the West-Battery of Vlieland): F/O. Tunstall (pilot), Sgt. Murdock, Sgt. Joyce (an Irish National, who "escaped" in 1942 to the U.K.) and Sgt. Brock. The crew, including Sgt. Joyce, were made prisoners of war and taken to the neighbouring island of Terschelling for one night, and after that ferried via Harlingen, then transported by lorry via Makkum to Stavoren, and ferried again to Amsterdam (prison). After that they taken to Dulag Luft Oberursel interrogation camp in Germany.

(1) Sgt Michael J Joyce (947) is a strange one, and probably shouldn't be included here. He was air gunner of Hampden P4324 which force-landed on the Dutch island of Vlieland the night of 26/27 August 1940 returning from Leipzig. The whole crew were captured and taken to Dulag Luft at Oberursel. Joyce says he stayed at Dulag Luft until early 1942 when he was taken to a hospital at Kloster Haina. His MI9 report says that he subsequently escaped from a farm at Kaisersech but this story has since been amended.


It is believed that the Irish born Joyce, a cousin of William Joyce (2), was recruited by the Abwehr and released to try and infiltrate one of the escape lines - in this case presumably the Belgian Comete organisation. Joyce's MI9 report says he was taken to Liege where he met RAF evader Fl/Sgt Gordon Mellor (951) with whom he travelled to Paris. They were joined by P/O. Lorn Kropf (950) and Sgt. Alexis Stadnik (946) and the four men were taken across the Pyrenees from St Jean de Luz on 18th October 1942. Michael Joyce died in Ireland in 1976.

(2) William Brooke Joyce (24 April 1906 – 3 January 1946), nicknamed Lord ‘Haw-Haw’, was an American-born, Irish-British Fascist politician and Nazi propaganda broadcaster to the United Kingdom during World War II. He was convicted of one count of High Treason in 1945. The Court of Appeal and the House of Lords upheld his conviction. He was hanged at Wandsworth Prison by Albert Pierrepoint.



Burial details:

None - all PoW. F/O. Peter David Tunstall from South Africa retired 3rd December 1957 as Sq/Ldr. Escaped an earlier crash landing near Gayton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Running out of fuel after an operation to Hanover. Flying as W/Op. on 61 Squadron Hampden I P4349. All crew survived, the badly damaged Hampden was salvaged and used after conversion for ground training as 2157M. Peter passed away on July 27th 2013 age 94. Further details can be read about him in our obituary section.

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered May 2015. photographs of F/O. Tunstall courtesy of Chris Hebers - Hampden photographs courtesy Michel Beckers.

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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