Date: 20th April 1945 (Friday)
Unit: No. 190 Squadron 38 Group (motto Ex Tenebris - 'Through darkness')
Type: Stirling IV
Base: RAF Great Dunmow, Essex
Location: Woodlands Lane, Windlesham, Surrey
Pilot: W/Cdr. Richard Henry Bunker DSO. DFC. Bar. 40668 RAF (O) Age 25. Killed
Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Lewis Bagley 1812807 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
Fl/Eng: P/O. Samuel Alfred Sulsh 56536 RAFVR Age 39. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Frederick Charles King 1587589 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. George Robert Thompson Taylor 55614 RAF Age 28. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Jeffrey Aldred 3010575 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Gerald Gardiner 1587766 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
A highly decorated and well respected pilot the then F/O. Bunker escaped with serious injuries on Sunday, the 25th August 1940. Flying Hampden X2895 whilst with 83 Squadron. This was on return from Berlin - the first operation to Berlin of WW2. This was a snub for Herman Goring who boasted 'no aircraft would ever bomb the City'. Hitler then ordered the bombing of London in retaliation.
All his four crew this operation 1: Observer: Sgt. Patrick Aylmer Vivian NZ/391872 RNZAF (survived - killed later on the 14th September 1942 whilst with 1654 Heavy conversion Unit - further details available on request) Sgt. Harry Scott Haste 550065 RAF (survived - missing - believed killed later on the 15th November 1940 whilst with 83 Squadron - further details available on request) Sgt. Godfrey Dennis Thomas 751987 (survived - seriously injured, later awarded the DFM, survived the war)
On the 20th April 1945 the crew had landed at RAF Odiham after an operation and were re-positioning to their base. The experienced pilot decided to take off apparently aware that the tail wheel was flat - he had been instructed by flying control not to take off.
The heat generated by the friction started a fire in the tail of the aircraft after the Stirling had taken off. Within minutes the rear turret had broken away with the aircraft then crashing out of control - presumably the control cables had been burnt through. All the crew were lost.
Above: 9 Squadron RAF Bardney - probably around June/July 1943: P/O. Prior (Air/Bmr), Sgt. Possee (Fl/Eng), Sq/Ldr. Bunker (Pilot), Sgt . R.G. Lomas (Air/Gnr), Sgt. W.A. Gall (Nav), Sgt. J. Lever (W/Op), Sgt. F.G. Hayler (Air/Gnr).
The C/O. of 9 Squadron W/Cdr. Burnett (third from left) chatting to aircrew at RAF Bardney. Sq/Ldr. Bunker shown second on the right.
A wonderful memorial has been placed at the Church in Windlesham as shown above.
We must add that this information has not been verified by us and is as reported in the publication 'Though Without Anger' by the great researcher, Colin Cummings. ISBN No: ISBN-13: 978-095266196. Nimbus Publications - 2009. Losses of Transport and Special Duties Aircraft and Assault Gliders 1940 to 1945. 636 pages describing losses as described.
"Sq/Ldr. Bunker has completed numerous sorties involving many hours of operational flying. As captain of aircraft, he has displayed a very high degree of courage and tenacity, together with determination to strike at the enemy wherever possible. As Sight commander, he has evinced sterling qualities of leadership and devotion fo duty. Since the award of the DFC he has secured many successful photographs of target areas".
In a New York bar, W/Cdr. Bunker in the middle, with two other unidentified pilots.
"Sq/Ldr. Bunker has a long record of distinguished flying service. He is an excellent flight commander and his sense of responsibility and discipline has raised the whole level of efficiency in his flight.
In September 1944, he was second of a formation engaged in dropping supplies to our forces in Holland, when his aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and had one engine put out of action. The leading aircraft was forced to land and, despite the damage to his own aircraft, Sqn. Ldr. Bunker took over the leading position and completed the mission successfully. Throughout his whole operational career, he has shown outstanding courage and determination in pressing home his attacks".
W/Cdr. Richard Henry Bunker DSO. DFC. Bar. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 24.E.1. Son of Frederick and Harriet Bunker and husband of Stella Bunker, father of Anthony, of Redcar, Yorkshire, England. Grave inscription reads: 'A Token Of Love And Remembrance Of The Husband I Cannot Forget'.
Fl/Sgt. Ronald Lewis Bagley. St. Albans Cemetery (Hatfield Road). Sec. M. Row W. Grave 14. Son of Lewis and Eva Bagley, of St. Albans; husband of Nora C. J. Bagley, of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. Grave inscription reads: 'With Love And Gratitude For All The Happiness You Gave Us, Ron'.
P/O. Samuel Alfred Sulsh. Eglantine Church Of Ireland Cemetery. Sec. E. Grave 29. Husband of Aileen Norah Sulsh, of Hillsborough, Owlerton, Sheffield, England. Grave inscription reads: 'Always In Our Thoughts, Wife Aileen And Children Doreen And Gwendoline. He Died That We Might Live'.
Sgt. Frederick Charles King. Clevedon Churchyard (St. Andrew). N.E. part. Grave 1271. Son of Frederick William King, and of Ann Sarah King, of Clevedon, Somerset, England. Grave inscription reads: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember'.
F/O. George Robert Thompson Taylor. Dunblane Cemetery. Grave E 39. Son of William and Margaret Ross Thompson Taylor, of Ashfield, Stirling, Scotland.
Sgt. Jeffrey Aldred. Kirk Hallam Churchyard (All Saints). Grave 347. Son of Herbert and Florence Mary Aldred (née Draper), of Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England. Grave inscription reads: 'When Day Is Done And Shadows Fall 'Tis Then We Miss You Most Of All'.
Sgt. Kenneth Gerald Gardiner. Chalford Churchyard (Christ Church). West of Church. Son of Frank and Daisy Gladys Gardiner, of Chalford Vale, Gloucestershire, England. Grave inscription reads: 'In Memory's Garden We Meet Every Day, Dear'.
Researched with assistance from the son of the pilot, Mr Anthony Bunker in April 2019 and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as quoted.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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