Tears for Lancaster hero father

Yvonne Gunter with the Canadian crew
Yvonne Gunter with the Canadian crew

A guest at a recent fly-past by the two Lancasters could barely see them for the tears streaming from her eyes.

Memories of her hero father came flooding back for Coun Yvonne Gunter as the Merlin engines roared overhead.

Pilot Officer Bernard John Gunter was killed after his first and only mission as a bomb aimer in a Lancaster during the Second World War.

His mission was a success – bombing munitions factories in Nuremberg. But his Lancaster was hit by flak on the way home and crashed near the Austrian border. All crew members died.

He was buried in a military cemetery close to the crash site.

Coun Gunter said: “When the Lancasters came over at RAF Coningsby I just cried my heart out. My dad had been a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police before volunteering and never came back from his first mission. I was only small, but the sight and sound of the Lancasters brought so many memories flooding back.”

Pictured above with Coun Yvonne Gunter is the crew of the Canadian Lancaster whom she met at Woodhall Spa, Coun James Knowles and his son whose drawing of the two Lancasters and the Vulcan was signed by the crew.

She said she had revisited the photographs she has of him and “beautiful letters that he had written to my mother while he was in Canada. Reading them made me feel I knew him so much better and opened a whole new world of closeness.”

Coun Gunter, as Boston Borough Council’s leisure services portfolio holder, had attended an earlier Lancasters visit planning conference at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa – which served as the officers’ mess for 617 Dambusters Squadron during the war.

She met the crew of the Canadian Lancaster at a reception at the Petwood Hotel and took with her photographs of her father who did his Lancaster training in Winnipeg, Canada.

Pilot Officer Bernard John Gunter’s name also appears on a memorial in Westminster Abbey, the RAF Chapel in Lincoln Cathedral and, because of his police career, Scotland Yard.