16/17.03.1945 166 Squadron Lancaster I PA234 AS:M Fg Off. Muncer
Date: 16/17th March 1945 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 166 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire
Location: Großhabersdorf, Germany
Pilot: Fg Off. Kevin Patrick Muncer DFC 184031 RAFVR Survived - injured PoW
Flt Eng: Sgt. Victor Jones 1045917 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Nav: Fg Off. W.H. Gerard Survived - injured PoW
Air Bmr: Flt Sgt. James Paterson 1682300 RAFVR Age ? Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Fg Off. Ronald George Buckland 171388 RAFVR Age 32. Missing
Air Gnr: Fg Off. John Vincent Gardner 172025 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. William Cyril Jeffrey Reynolds R/274514 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Alan Mann contacted us in March 2016 and sent an extended research report on the pilot of another crew, Flt Lt. Jack Barnes went to school with Fg Off. Muncer and were close friend for years after war end. Alan contributed most of the information and photographs used on the page. With thanks also to Kevin Muncer and Roderick Mackenzie - co-author of the Nightfighter War Diaries.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off on an operation to Nurnberg (Nuremberg) at 17:14 hrs. as part of 26 aircraft from 166 Squadron with warnings of heavy flak and fighters. It was laden with 2154 gallons of fuel, a 4000 lb. high explosive bomb and six 1000 lb. incendiary clusters.
The raid hit the southern and south western districts as well as the ruins of Alstadt which had been destroyed on a previous raid. A serious fire erupted in the Steinbuhl district and the railway station was also hit. The gasworks were so seriously damaged that it did not resume production before war's end. 529 people were killed on the ground.
Records for night fighter claims for this period of the war have been largely lost. However, the claim by the night fighter ace, Major Werner Hoffman of Stab I./NJG5 over Ansbach would possibly tie in with this loss. Aircraft intercepted and shot down at 21:26 hrs.
The squadron lost 2 other aircraft on this operation, the others:
Lancaster I RF154 AS:B Flown by Fg Off. ‘Bud’ Churchward RCAF taken PoW with 5 other crew. 1 other killed.
Lancaster III PB153 AS:J2 Flown by 22 year old Flt Sgt. William Leslie Hilder 1684920 RAFVR from Linton-on-Wharfe in Yorkshire - killed with 5 other crew. 1 taken PoW. (Note: the family of this pilot also lost another son, 22 year old Flt Sgt. Sydney Napier Hilder on the 6th November 1944. Flying as a Bomb Aimer with 106 Squadron Lancaster I LL953 ZN:O with the loss of all the crew.
This was the 50th claim by Major Werner Hoffman who claimed total of 51 kills by war end from which he survived. Born on 13th January 1918 at Stettin. Surrendered to British troops on the 7th May. Following three months internment in the prison camp at Wiedelah, Hoffmann was released. He studied pharmacy and opened a Dispensary at Goslar in Harz. He died on the 8th July 2011.
Fg Off. Kevin Patrick Muncer DFC was found by a farmer with his arm missing and was taken to the farmhouse where the farmer's wife made a tourniquet out of bailing twine, stopped the bleeding and saved his life. He was taken prisoner but eventually made it home safely. All his crew except the navigator lost their lives. After the war he was contacted by the farmer whose son was a PoW working on a farm in Scotland, with a heartfelt plea. Please would Kevin contact the authorities and explain that they had saved the life of a British airman and could they have their son back in recognition of this. With the help of the Red Cross this was done. Someone else then contacted Kevin out of the blue - a man who had found Kevin's severed left arm and buried it reverently in the woods where he found it. He had the watch Kevin had been wearing which bore his service number and again with the help of the Red Cross the watch came back.
This was a dreadful time in Germany so it was very moving to see the letters involved in the interaction between Kevin's rescuers, the Red Cross and the authorities, an amazing story of war, loss and forgiveness.
Sadly Kevin passed away on the 15th April 2005. Beloved husband of the late Gwendolyn and dearly loved father of Michael, David and Jane. Sadly missed by all his family. The Skipper rejoins the never forgotten crew of Lancaster PA234, lost over Nurnberg on the 16th March 1945.
Sgt. Victor Jones. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 11.F.18. Son of Joseph and Lilian Jones, of Royton, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Until The Day Break, And The Shadows Flee Away".
Flt Sgt. James Paterson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 11.F.19. No further details - are you able to assist?
Fg Off. Ronald George Buckland. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 266. Son of George John and Agnes Eugenie Buckland.
Fg Off. John Vincent Gardner. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 11.F.20. Son of George I. Gardner and Florence E. Gardner, husband of Frances Mary Gardner, of Blackpool, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Let Us Be Worthy Of His Great Sacrifice. May He Rest In Peace"
Flt Sgt. William Cyril Jeffrey Reynolds. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 11.F.21. Son of Sgt. Thomas John and Margaret Pearl, née McDougall Reynolds of 26 , Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada. Brother of James Gordon, Thomas Arthur, Dorothy Irene, Laura Isobel and Mary Elizabeth.
With thanks to Allan Mann for a great deal of information and photographs. Also to Kevin Muncer (son of the pilot) and the Wickhambrook (Suffolk) Local History Society. Also to Roderick Mackenzie - co-author of the Nightfighter War Diaries. Thanks to Duncan Hilder for the name correction (Apr 2021). Other sources as quoted below.
Full biography of Fg Off. Jack Barnes, life long friend of Kevin Muncer, can also be read within our website