LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Aubrey George ASHLEY

Service No: 413522
Born: Parramatta NSW, 6 September 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 12 September 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Station Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft W4987), Germany, 25 July 1943, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Becklingen War Cemetery, Soltau, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Roy Bernard and Rose May Ashley, of Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Neutral Bay NSW
Remembered: Panel 106, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 24-25 July 1943
Target: Hamburg
Total Force: Dispatched – 791, Attacking – 740
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 26, Attacking – 26; No. 466 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 17; No. 467 Dispatched – 15, Attacking – 15
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,300
Total Aircraft Lost: 12
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1

When Bomber Command turned from the badly-hit Ruhr to prosecute an autumn offensive deeper into German territory, there was no under-estimation of the problem of fighting through to each target. At the same time the old problem of precise target identification remained, for the spring successes had been attained within the limits of Oboe – controlled target marking, while for the wider raids now considered, H2S (radar) would necessarily have to be employed. The first great blow was therefore directed against Hamburg, where the coastline and river were expected to give sharp pictures on the radar screen, and which, moreover, could be approached over the sea with a minimum of enemy opposition, so that accurate, unhurried Pathfinder marking could be obtained. During late July and early August four major attacks (24-25 July, 27-28 July, 29-30 July and 2-3 August) were made within ten days. All three RAAF squadrons took part in these raids, which were the heaviest yet attempted in any area. The re-equipment of many squadrons with Lancaster and Halifax bombers had greatly increased the actual striking power of the force.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 585, 586

Lancaster W4987 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2308 hours on the night of 24/25th July 1943 to attack Hamburg, Germany. The bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 2 x 1000 lb (450 kg) bombs 48 x 30 lb (14 kg) and 510 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twenty six aircraft from the squadron took part in the attack. Post war it was established that the aircraft was hit by flak and crashed near Cuxhaven and all the crew members were killed

The crew members of W4987 were:

Sergeant John McFarland Acheson (1065899) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Aubrey George Ashley (413522) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Francis Smith Forsyth (414293) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant James Vivian Joyce (1334423) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator)
Sergeant Dennis William Metcalfe (1416068) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Antoine Joseph Elphege Perron (R/86190) (RCAF) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Frederick Cecil Taylor (412860) (Navigator)

References:

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, 166/4/54

Bibliography:

Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985