Pilot Officer Robert William CRANE

Service No: 413533
Born: Lithgow NSW, 14 November 1919
Enlisted in the RAAF: 12 September 1941
Unit: No. 620 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Fairford
Died: Air Operations (No. 620 Squadron Stirling aircraft LJ850), North West Europe, 18 June 1944, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Henry and Margaret Crane, of Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Lithgow NSW
Remembered: Panel 258, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 2330 hours on the night of 17 June 1944 Stirling LJ850 took off from Fairford for special operations over enemy occupied territory. The aircraft was carrying its crew and 15 parachutists of the Special Air Service Regiment. The locality of the dropping zone was in the Morvan Mountains about 120 miles east south east of Orleans. Nothing further was heard of the aircraft after take-off.
A 1948 search report stated that no trace of the aircraft or those on board was found.

The crew members of LJ850 were:

Warrant Officer II John Percy Clasper (R/159971) (RCAF) (Air Bomber)
Pilot Officer Robert William Crane (413533) (Pilot)
Sergeant David Wynne Evans (1407968) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Frank Norman Johnson (1395038) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Benjamin James Profit (R/189226) (RCAF) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Granville William Stopford (657479) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air)
Sergeant Phillip Wilding (1345146) (RAFVR) (Despatcher)

The 15 Paratroops from the Special Air Service Regiment AAC commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial were:

Private James Fleming Spiers Arbuckle (2985863)
Private John Seymour Bowen (899930)
Lance Corporal Harold Brook (2615070)
Corporal William Bryson (2880083)
Lieutenant Leslie George Cairns (164967)
Private William John Creaney (7019654)
Private George Malgwyn Hayes (6085839)
Private George Dalton Law (3603627)
Corporal William Leadbetter (921086)
Private Charles Macfarlane (215922)
Sergeant Ronald Miller (1578003)
Private Dominic McBride (14643720)
Private James O’Reilly (1602722)
Private John Kenneth Rogers (1835335)
Sergeant Reginald Josiah Wortley (4863732)

No. 620 Squadron stated that while it cannot be assumed that the aircraft was lost in the target area, it is possible that it crashed into high ground in the target area. The next of kin of one of the crew members (Flight Sergeant Johnson) was informed by another pilot on the same operation that LJ850 was seen to crash into a hillside while making their run in and did not catch fire. This pilot mentioned the Savoy Hills which are over 100 miles from the Morvan Mountains.

Note: Australian Records show Pilot Officer Crane’s date of death as 18 June 1944 while the other casualties are shown on CWGC records as 17 June 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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/8/506

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