Flight Sergeant Astley Arthur CRANFIELD

Service No: 420155
Born: Camden NSW, 17 August 1919
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 October 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JA859), Germany, 22 September 1943, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Becklingen War Cemetery, Soltau, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frederick Laurie Cranfield and Vera May Cranfield, of Concord, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Camden NSW
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: MacArthur Park Obelisk, Camden NSW

Date: 22-23 September 1943
Target: Hanover
Total Force: Dispatched – 716, Attacking – 658
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 20, Attacking – 20; No. 467 Dispatched – 10, Attacking – 10
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,357
Total Aircraft Lost: 25
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2

Attention also turned at this time to the large cities in the west-central plain of Germany. Although only at medium range these had consistently escaped lightly owing to their location in featureless country which prevented precise identification. Hanover in particular gave a very unsatisfactory response on an H2S screen even for the most experienced radar operator, and although four heavy raids were made against this city, only one was really effective. The first raid took place in clear weather conditions and RAAF crews reported that bombing was well concentrated round the target indicators and that there were huge palls of fire and smoke. Photographs taken by No. 467 (Squadron RAAF) during the raid revealed that despite this optimism, the majority of bombs from that squadron fell about seven miles away from the true aiming point and only the southern suburbs were hit at all. Nearly 200 searchlights silhouetted the bombers against cloud and there were many desperate struggles with fighters which on this occasion had not been misled by diversionary attacks on Oldenburg and Emden. Another batch of German fighters was sent to attack the returning bombers as they neared their own airfields.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 604-5

Lancaster JA859 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1903 hours on 22 September 1943 to attack Hanover. The bomb load was 1 x 4,000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 56 x 30 lb (14 kg) and 1230 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twenty aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid. Following post war enquiries and investigations, it was established that the aircraft crashed on the east bank of the Weser River at Bremen-Walle north west from the city centre and all the crew were killed.

The crew members of JA859 were:

Sergeant Edward Clayton (1685180) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Astley Arthur Cranfield (420155) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Kenneth Rae Galt (409683) (Navigator)
Sergeant Reginald Thomas Hampton (1312179) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Harry Kenloch Lucy (409560) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Edward Moore Sibbit (5148) (Bomb Aimer)
Pilot Officer Charles Keightley Smith (413665) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Maxwell Thomas Lockwood Watson (420328) (Second Pilot)

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster DV219 (Flight Sergeant Ronald Hans Hansen (22001) (Pilot)) on 22 September 1943


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, 166/8/247
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


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

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