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History - The Wellington bomber incident in Bratislava

On the night of the 4th/5th October 1944, RAF Wellington bomber MF 845-A was shot down by a German ship on the banks of the Danube three miles south of Bratislava. The bomber plane, which had been based in Italy but given the task of laying mines in the river Danube to impede German shipping, fell partially into the river and partially onto the banks of the Danube.

The crew of the Wellington bomber, all members of the RAFs 40th Squadron, consisted of six members:

Pilot Officer Arthur Leslie Mayers (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Vallance McCall (Navigator)
Warrant Officer Charles Herbert Gunby (Wireless Operator)
Sergeant Harry Walker Hesketh (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Robert Cummin Ropson Johnson (Air Gunner)
 

 
There were no survivors.

The destroyed bomber was found by a man from Dobrohost who was standing about 50 meters from the site of the plane wreck on the night. Vincent Szelle, who was walking with his girlfriend, saw the plane fall and the fuel set on fire. Mr Szelle found the body of Charles Herbert Gunby (left) on the shore, but the remaining bodies got lost in the river.

The memorial, situated near the dam in Čunovo, became the first burial site of British soldiers in Slovakia.

In December 2001 the British Embassy in Bratislava became aware of this event. With the help of the Slovak Authorities, a local historian, and the testimony of the only witness, an account of what happened was put together. In 2003 a memorial was dedicated to these five men. Relatives of all crew members were traced and invited to its inauguration, and on a rainy October day sixteen family members and friends of the deceased, along with Slovak and British officials, attended this memorial service. (right)
 

Clare Roberts
British International School of Bratislava

 

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Bratislava History Project
British International School of Bratislava
Peknikova 6, 841 02 Bratislava
+ 421 2 6930 7081 info@bisb.sk

 

Contact : Richard Jones-Nerzic