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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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40 Squadron Crest
04/05.10.1944 No. 40 squadron Wellington X MF845 BL-A P/O. Mayers

Operation: Gardening

Date: 04/05th October 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron

Type: Wellington X

Serial: MF845

Code: BL-A

Base: RAF Foggia Main, Italy

Location: River Danube, South Bratislava

Pilot: P/O. Arthur Leslie Mayers 185925 RAFVR Missing - believed killed

Obs: Fl/Sgt. Vallance McCall 1348808 RAFVR Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Charles Herbert Gunby 1200320 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harry Walker Hesketh 1580730 RAFVR Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Cummin Robson Johnson 1366007 Age 29. Missing - believed killed


During a Gardening operation (1) on the Danube understood to have been shot down by Kriegsmarine flak unit. The aircraft came down in the Danube south of Bratislava, the only body recovered was that W/O. Charles Herbert Gunby. The remainder of the crew are remembered on the Malte Memorial.

It is understood that Sgt. Harry Walker Hesketh was no the usual W/Op for this crew, he had been selected as a stand-in at the last moment.

In 2003 a memorial was unveiled near the dam at Cunovo, the ceremony was attended by many of the crew relatives. (courtesy William Booker)

(1) Gardening - the RAF term given to the dropping of mines from aircraft into the sea. The mines were "sown" near ports and harbours, inland waterways, estuaries and in busy shipping lanes.

Above L-R: Malta memorial panel to some of the crew. W/O. Gunby and grave at Prague.

Burial details:Very few next of kin details on the majority of the crew - perhaps relatives could contact us to complete details?

P/O. Arthur Leslie Mayers. Malta Memorial. Panel 13. Column 2. Born on Dec 10th 1920 at Brocco Bank Sheffield, the son of William Henry Mayers (1886-1934) and Mary Winifred Mayers nee Perry (1890 – 1938), the fourth of six children.

Fl/Sgt. Vallance McCall. Malta Memorial. Panel 14. Column 1. No further details - see note above.

W/O. Charles Herbert Gunby. Prague War Cemetery. Grave II.A.3. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gunby and husband of Ruth M. Gunby, of Canterbury, England. Grave inscription reads: "Tell England, Ye Who Pass This Monument, We Died For Her And Here We Rest Content".

Sgt. Harry Walker Hesketh. Malta Memorial. Panel 15. Column 1. Understood to be from Crew, Cheshire, England.

Sgt. Robert Cummin Robson Johnson. Malta Memorial. Panel 15. Column 1. Son of William George and Catherine Clynes Johnson, of Ayr, Scotland.

Many thanks to Peter Mayers and family who contacted us in November 2018 with details of the pilot. For further details our thanks to the following sources.

KTY - 03.03.2018

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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