Hannay MID, Herbert (No. 754380)

Hannay, Herbert (Bertie)

Mentioned in Despatches

Flight Sergeant (Pilot)

No. 754380, 51 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in action on Thursday 12 June 1941 (aged 21)


Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands (Plot JJ. Grave 12)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Bangor and District War Memorial

First Bangor Presbyterian Church

Bangor Grammar School Memorial Plaque

Bangor Grammar School Hannay Memorial Bowl

Family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery


Herbert (Bertie) Hannay was born on 28 February 1920 at 37 Prospect Road, Bangor and he was the younger son of William Herbert (Herbert) and Rosa Hannay (nee Curragh) of 39 Prospect Road, Bangor.  They were married on 31 October 1911 in First Donaghadee Presbyterian Church.  Herbert Hannay was a farmer from Ballyholme, Bangor (later an official in Bangor Gasworks) and he was a son of William Hannay, a sea captain.  Rosa Curragh from Granshaw was a daughter of William Curragh, a farmer.

William Herbert and Rosa Hannay (nee Curragh had at least four children:

William Henry Montgomery (Willie, born 5 December 1911 at 1 Park Avenue, Bangor; worked in Bangor Gasworks; joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve)

Sarah Montgomery (Sadie, born 18 September 1913 at 37 Prospect Road, Bangor; married William Cresswell)

Jenny Winifred (Jean, born 13 January 1915 in Prospect Road, Bangor; married Bangor auctioneer George Matthews and lived in Fourth Avenue, Baylands, Bangor)

Herbert (Bertie, born 28 February 1920 at 37 Prospect Road, Bangor)

Herbert Hannay attended Main Street Boys’ Public Elementary School and Bangor Grammar School from 1932 until 1936 and then he worked for the Century Insurance Company in Belfast.  Before the war he trained with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) and was called up when hostilities began.

On 10 June 1940 Herbert Hannay and Ena Weir of 5 Farnham Street, Belfast were married by special licence in Whitewaltham Parish Church, Maidenhead, Berkshire.  Two days after his first wedding anniversary he was killed in action.  Initially he was reported as missing in action over Holland and then in November 1941 his family was officially informed that Bertie had been killed in action.

On 11 June 1941 Herbert Hannay was one of a crew of five aboard an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mark V aircraft (Z6657) that took off from RAF Dishforth in Yorkshire at 11.06 pm on a mission to bomb Duisburg.  They were shot down at 3.16 am on 12 June by a German night-fighter and their plane crashed at Borkel, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands.  All five were buried in Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery.  The other crew members who died that night were:

  • Pilot Officer Paul Edward Snyder (aged 25), Royal Canadian Air Force)
  • Sergeant James Edward Gittins
  • Sergeant Cyril Gerrard Humble (aged 20) from Carlisle
  • Sergeant John Bradshaw (aged 21) from Sheffield

There is an inscription on Herbert Hannay’s CWGC headstone:


Various members of Herbert Hannay’s immediate and extended family placed Roll of Honour notices in the 13 June 1942 edition of the County Down Spectator and the one from his parents contained the verse:

We think of him in silence,

And oft repeat his name,

What would we give to hear his voice

And see his smile again?

The one from his wife contained the text:

In my heart your memory lingers

Herbert’s brother, Sergeant-Observer William Hannay, was hospitalised in November 1940, initially in Luton Hospital and later in Halton General Hospital after he sustained a broken right arm and other injuries when his aircraft crashed over London.  Unable to write personal letters, William was grateful to the editor of the County Down Spectator for publishing an open letter thanking local people for all their good wishes and Christmas presents.

About Herbert Hannay and Geoffrey Bowman the Headmaster of Bangor Grammar School wrote, ‘they were together in their work and play; together in their love of fun and abounding vitality; together in their examination successes, in their time of leaving school and choice of a career; together in their voluntary self-dedication to the hazards of air-warfare and now, beyond death’s mystery, together they wear the crowns of immortality’.  Flying Officer Geoffrey Bowman was killed in action on 21 May 1944.

Flight Sergeant Herbert Hannay (No. 754380) was 21 when he died and he is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; in First Bangor Presbyterian Church; in Bangor Grammar School and on the family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery.  His mother, Rosa, died on 10 July 1967 and his father, William Herbert, died on 20 May 1969.

A silver bowl bearing the inscription Hannay Memorial Bowl was presented to Bangor Grammar School by his parents to be awarded annually for the best performance in the Ulster Schools Sports competition.