Pilot Officer William Denman CROFT

Service No: 424855
Born: Mudgee NSW, 28 March 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 October 1942
Unit: No. 466 Squadron, RAF Driffield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft LV833), Germany, 25 July 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Henry Valentine Croft and Annie Croft.
Roll of Honour: Dunedoo NSW
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Dunedoo and District War Memorial, Dunedoo NSW

Of German inland cities attacked at this time, Stuttgart was most heavily hit, three times within five nights during late July and once during September. Twelve Halifaxes of No. 466, 9 Lancasters of No. 463 and 8 of No. 467 were in the stream of 618 bombers from all groups which made the first attack on 24th-25th July and dropped 1,750 tons of bombs in and around the city. The weather was bad and Australian pilots were unable to report any precise results but only the glow of fires seen below cloud. No. 466 lost two and the whole force 21 bombers during this deep penetration into enemy territory, as the German Air Force, once it recovered from its initial surprise, was able to mass fighters on both the outward and return routes. Stuttgart was the pre-eminent, industrial city in south Germany so that, as an “area” target, as a transport centre, and because of its ball-bearing, machine-tool and engine factories, which fed air force needs, it was given high priority as a target.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 297

Halifax LV833 took off from RAF Driffield at 2122 hours on the night of 24/25th July 1944 to bomb Stuttgart, Germany. Twelve aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including LV833 failed to return. Post war a Missing Research & Enquiry unit reported that the aircraft collided with another aircraft No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft HX 243 and crashed near the village of Bonlanden, which is approximately 9 miles south of Stuttgart.

The crew members of LV833 were:

Flight Sergeant Keith William Campbell (423220) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 12 November 1945
Flight Sergeant Patrick Joseph Conway (426541) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer William Denman Croft (424855) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Howard Norman Lloyd (1352500) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant Robert Palmer (951869) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer Keith Beresford Smith (422722) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Ronald James Walsh DFC (420087) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Maitland Shackson Whiteley (415563) (Rear Gunner)

In 1945 Flight Sergeant Campbell reported that “the aircraft was hit by flak and exploded with all members of the crew being thrown out immediately. The Germans told him that all the others were dead and buried at Bonlanden near Stuttgart.” Campbell later reported that “when the aircraft was hit it went out of control and crashed approx 35 miles south of Stuttgart. The Germans had informed him that two bodies had been identified and five unidentified.”

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax HX243 (Pilot Officer Henry Blondin Shaw (427155) (Pilot)) on 25 July 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, 166/8/569

Book Now Book Now