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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 badge
06/07.01.1945 51 Squadron Halifax III MZ811 MH-X Plt.Off. Bunn

Operation: Hanau, Germany

Date: 6/7th January 1945 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: 51 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ811

Code: MH-X

Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire

Location: Weiskirchen, Germany

Pilot: Plt.Off. Sidney John Bunn 182353 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Harry Hardwick 948660 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Nav: Flt.Sgt. H. R. Smith RAFVR Age ? PoW (No further details)

Air Bmr: Fll.Sgt. Terence William Richards 1339173 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op Air Gnr: Sgt. Charles G. Green 1382017 RAFVR Age ? PoW (No further details)

Mid Upp. Gnr: Sgt. N. Wilcock 1623765 RAFVR Age ? PoW No. 150025 Dulag Luft Interrogation Centre and Stalag Luckenwalde

Rear Gnr: Sgt. Roy Venables Snell Wilson 1894557 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


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. Flt.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: Plt.Off. Sidney John Bunn (courtesy 51 Squadron History Society)

Reports suggest that Flt.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. Flt.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 Plt.Off. 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 Plt.Off. Bunn’s bravery to the RAF 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.

Burial details:

Plt.Off. Sidney John Bunn - Dürnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bavaria, Germany, Grave 7. A. 23. Son of Sidney William and Alice Margaret Bunn and husband of Joan Dorothy Bunn of Salisbury, England.

Sgt.Harry Hardwick - Dürnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bavaria, Germany, Grave 7. A. 25. Son of Francis Henry and Mary Ellen Hardwick of Newhall, Derbyshire, England. Grave inscription: 'These Things I Command You, That Ye Love One Another" St.John Xv.17'.

Flt.Sgt.Terence William 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, Wales.

Sgt. Roy Venables Snell Wilson - Dürnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bavaria, Germany, Grave 7. A. 24. Son of Alec Henry and Marjorie Jane Wilson of Ealing, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription: 'Rest Eternal Grant To Him, O Lord; And Let Light Perpetual Shine Upon Him'.

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 Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt 'Bomber Command War Diaries'. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

RS 03.03.2020 - Editorial update

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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