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Bomber Command Memorial Act of Remembrance D-Day ‘Crew’

For the Bomber Command Act of Remembrance Service on 30 June 2024 at the Bomber Command Memorial, The Green Park, London, I was asked to put together a ‘crew’ of airmen who failed to return from operations in support of D-Day and the Normandy invasion. These men are just seven of the thousands of young men who died in the run-up to D-Day, the day itself, and the subsequent battles. Herewith are details of the ‘crew’, which were read at the service by members of the University of London Air Squadron.

Maurice Bunnagar (Pilot)
Maurice Bunnagar was just twenty-years-old when he lost his life piloting a 9 Squadron Lancaster. On the night of 11th/12th May 1944 Maurice and his crew were sent to attack the enemy military camp at Bourg-Leopold, Belgium. En route to the target they were attacked by a night fighter resulting in the death of Maurice and his entire crew. Maurice rests in Wilsele Churchyard, Belgium.

Jack Lott (Navigator)
On the night of 6th/7th June Jack Lott was tasked with navigator duties on his 619 Lancaster, one of over one thousand aircraft tasked with bombing enemy lines of communication. Having bombed their target the crew became aware of a suspicious aircraft approaching. Suddenly there was a terrific bang and the pilot threw the Lancaster in to a corkscrew. The enemy fighter attacked again and soon flames were streaking back from three of the engines of Jack’s aircraft. Jack and four of his crew mates would lose their lives, and he now rests in Bayeux War Cemetery.

Dick Haine (Bomb Aimer)
In the early hours of 6th June 1944, twenty-two-year-old Dick Haine, a bomb aimer on a 50 Squadron Lancaster, released his bomb load on the German gun emplacements at Pointe du Hoc, which defended Omaha and Utah beaches. Shortly after his aircraft shook when a flak shell struck the aircraft in the bomb bay. With flames engulfing the aircraft, and ammunition exploding, six of the crew were unable to leave the bomber and perished. Dick Haine is buried in Bayeux War Cemetery.

Roy Smith (wireless operator)
Canadian Roy Smith joined 419 Squadron in March 1944. In the run up to D-Day Roy and his crew were to take part in the Transportation plan, attacking rail communications through which enemy re-enforcements would deploy to the battle area. On the night of 12th/13th May outbound to the target, Roy’s Lancaster crashed and exploded with a total loss of life and he rests in Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Howard Turner (flight engineer)
On 18th July 1944 Bomber Command attacked the railyards at Revigny, attempting to block enemy lines to the battle front. Flight engineer Howard Turner would be flying on a 49 Squadron Lancaster that night, and would find himself in the midst of a fierce air battle with German nightfighters. Indeed 24 Lancasters would be shot down on the raid, including Howard’s with a total loss of life. Howard is buried in a collective grave at Granges-Sur-Aube Churchyard.

Leonard Zingelmann (mid upper gunner)
Australian Leonard Zingelmann arrived at 103 Squadron with his crew in February 1944. In the run up to D-Day Leonard would have cause to fire his mid upper turret guns at enemy aircraft on numerous occasions. On the night of 6th/7th June 1944, attacking bridges across the river Vire, Leonard’s aircraft was hit by an enemy nightfighter and caught fire. Steadily the Lancaster began to lose height, hitting the ground in a shallow angle that broke off the tail. The main section continued to speed along the ground, shedding burning wreckage, before finally coming to rest a few yards short of a remote farmhouse. There were no survivors from the crash and Leonard is buried in Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.

John Wilson (rear gunner)
In May 1941 John Wilson had volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force and in April 1944 the twenty-one-year-old would find himself taking part in essential D-Day preparation operations, as a rear gunner on Halifaxes with 431 Squadron. In the early hours of 28th April 1944, homeward bound following the attack on the railyards at Montzen, John’s aircraft was shot from the sky by a German nightfighter. There were 8 men on board John’s Halifax that night, and there were no survivors. John rests at Schoonselhof Cemetery, Belgium.

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