Minister of National Defence for Air
November 2, 1945
Dear Mr. Hansell:
Some few days ago you spoke to me regarding your late son, Flight Sergeant Harry Ernest Hansell, and expressed the desire to secure any further information that might be available concerning your son.
I have received a report which I am quoting to you for your own confidential information as follows -
According to information received from the Royal Canadian Air Force Casualties Officer, Overseas, Flight Sergeant Harry Hansell was a member of the crew of an aircraft which failed to return to it's base after a bombing raid over Hanover, Germany, on the night of September 27th, and early morning of September 28th, 1943.
A report received from the International Red Cross Committee, quoting German information states that Flight Sergeant Leach and five "unknown" lost their lives but no burial particulars were given. As there were eight members in this crew it is not possible to identify the ‘unknown'.
A subsequent report was received from an French workman in Germany who stated that this aircraft crashed at Herberollen, about 50 kilometers south of Hanover, in September or October, 1942, but it would appear that the year stated was incorrect and should have been 1943. Overseas headquarters advises that further investigations will be made in an endeavor to obtain more information concerning the crew.
Due to the lack of further information and lapse of time the death of Flight Sergeant Hansell was presumed for official purposes to have occurred September 27th, 1943.
Many reports are received stating that the bodies of some or all members of a crew have been found but that identification was made of only part of the crew and the remainder of those reported listed as ‘unknown'. In such cases this information is not automatically forwarded to the next-of-kin of the crew members, but only to those identified. It would be impossible to forward such information to next-of-kin of all personnel involved but is forwarded when requests for additional information are received concerning the remainder of the crew. The names and addresses of the next-of-kin of RCAF crew members are forwarded with the original casualty letter. This is done so that the next-of-kin of these crew members may correspond with each other and pass on any information received.
There are several services set up in an endeavor to obtain all particulars possible of crashed aircraft. Some information is available concerning a great many aircraft which crashed or were shot down by the enemy and every possible effort on an organized basis is being put forth to secure all information available. It is the duty of the graves registration units, which are under the control of the military authorities, to enquire for and locate the graves of all personnel known or believed to have crashed and to have been buried in occupied areas.
A Royal Air Force and Dominion Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service has been organized for the purpose of research and enquiry in liberated territories into the circumstances of aircrews reported as casualties. This service endeavors to obtain additional information to that already received. The civilian population of these areas is being contacted by radio, press and proclamations
Through the various civic authorities to centralize through this service any information or concrete evidence they may have about Air Force personnel or crashed aircraft. Similar instructions have been issued to all service personnel in these areas. Immediately any word is received, the next-of-kin will be at once advised.
It is the function of the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service which was established some months ago, with headquarters in Paris, France, to carry out investigations into the fate of all Air Force personnel believed to be missing in those areas which come under Allied control. The civilian population of these areas is being contacted by radio, press and proclamations
Through the various civic authorities to centralize through this service any information or concrete evidence they may have about Air Force personnel or crashed aircraft. Similar instructions have been issued to all service personnel in these areas.
It is also the duty of the graves registration units, which are under the control of the military authorities, to enquire for and locate the graves of all personnel known or believed to have crashed and to have been buried in occupied areas. These are necessarily tasks which may be a very long time before all districts can be thoroughly investigated.
note: this duplicated section of the letter, was part of the original letter received by EG
I regret to say that the above is all the information available at this time. Should any further information be obtained, you may be sure that it will be passed on to you immediately without delay.