Flight Sergeant Richard William ASH

Service No: 424519
Born: Gosford NSW, 9 February 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 12 September 1942
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft HK535), France, 10 May 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Hellemmes-Lille Communal Cemetery, Nord, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Oswald Frank and Marjorie Thompson Ash, of Northwood, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Northwood NSW
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 10-11 May 1944
Target: Lille Marshalling Yards
Total Force: Dispatched – 89, Attacking – 86
RAAF Force: No. 463, No. 467 Dispatched – Unavailable, Attacking – 31
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 419
Total Aircraft Lost: 12
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 463 – 3; No. 467 – 3

The heaviest setback suffered by the RAAF squadrons was on 10th-11th May when Waddington provided 31 of the total force of 86 Lancasters which attacked Lille, near the Belgian border. Squadron Leader Locke (1) of No. 97 Squadron (RAF) controlled this force and the bombing was very concentrated and effective. Gun defences were not unduly heavy but in numerous combats with enemy fighters Nos. 463 and 467 each lost one flight commander and two other crews, or 20 per cent of the crews sent out.

(1) Squadron Leader Harry Baker Locke DSO DFC (401980) was discharged from the RAAF on 1 July 1947.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 28, 30

Lancaster HK535 took off from RAF Waddington at 2203 hours on the night of 10/11th May 1944 to bomb marshalling yards at Lille, France. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg), 6 x 1000 lb (450 kg) and 8 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Fourteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and three of these including HK535 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed on a factory in the south eastern outskirts of the target area.

The crew members of HK535 were:

Flight Sergeant Richard William Ash (424519) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Raymond Herbert Boulton (1609134) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Ivan Chapple (422414) (Navigator)
Pilot Officer Walter Thomas Peters (423878) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Leonard Edgar Pringle (1459044) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Eric McLaren Scott (425226) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant William Allen Slade (424888) (Air Gunner)

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LL882 (Squadron Leader Mervyn Powell DFC (402817) (Pilot) on 10 May 1944.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LL881 (Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward (420413) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LL778 (Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead (420870) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM475 (Flight Sergeant Alastair Dale Johnson (425413) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster EE143 (Pilot Officer Douglas Hislop (414797) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/4/119

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