LEST WE FORGET
Flying Officer Robert McKerlie CROFT
Service No: 407199
Born: Adelaide SA, 16 December 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 July 1940
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LL882), Belgium, 11 May 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Wevelgem Communal Cemetery, Wevelgem, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Henry and Margaret Croft, of Evandale, South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide
Date: 10-11 May 1944
Target: Lille Marshalling Yards
Total Force: Dispatched – 89, Attacking – 86
RAAF Force: Dispatched – Unavailable, Attacking – 31 (total)
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 LL882 took off from RAF Waddington at 2200 hours on the night of 10/11th May 1944 to bomb the marshalling yards at Lille, France. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 16 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 LL 882 failed to return. Post war it was established that he aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and dived into an old waterlogged clay pit at the Dumoulin brickworks some 2 kms west of Langemark (West-Vlaanderen) and about 8 kms north of Ieper.
The crew members of LL882 were:
Flying Officer Robert McKerlie Croft (407199) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer David Payne Croston (407821) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Bertram Fraser (1443753) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flying Officer Ronald Jacques (134697) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Harry Law Molyneux (1802369) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Squadron Leader Mervyn Powell DFC (402817) (Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant William Neil Read (406700) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster HK 535 (Flight Lieutenant Eric McLaren Scott (425226) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.
No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LL 881 (Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward DFC (420413) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LL 778 (Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead (420870) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM 475 (Flight Sergeant Alastair Dale Johnson (425413) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)) on 10 May 1944.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster EE 143 (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, 166/8/457