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6 June 2017
Crew 52, Pilot Alan Edwin Astill – 462 Squadron RAAF

 

 

 

 

Wanted: Photo of Astill Crew, or individuals.

If you can help, please make contact.

 

 

All headstone photos on this page were supplied by and used with the permission of John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013; Cemeteries as noted in the text.

Crew 52, 462 Squadron, Driffield & Foulsham.

The Astill Crew were flying in Halifax III LL598 Z5-A, which crashed in the UK soon after take-off on the night of 14 January 1945.
Link to photo of graves in 1945.

Pilot Alan Edwin ASTILL
Navigator Phillip SWARBRICK
Bomb Aimer Stanley James MINETT
Wireless Operator Sydney Robert FULLER
Mid-Upper Gunner Mervyn George ISAAC
Rear Gunner Neville Owen REED
Flight Engineer George Arthur Edgar SANDAY
Special Duties Leslie Edward MILES

Links to additional Crew information and Operational Details; Loss of Aircraft on 14 January 1945.

Six of this crew were originally in Crew 36 Pilot Friend. A photo of that crew at Driffield is shown on their crew page.

Reference sources – Australian WW2 Nominal Roll; The National Archives of Australia (Service Files, Casualty Files, Loss of Aircraft Files, 462 Squadron Operational Record Book); Australian War Memorial (Roll of Honour); Commonwealth War Graves Commission. See also Commemorative Panel at AWM.

 

 

Funeral for Crew of Halifax LL598 Z5-A, 462 Squadron RAAF, on 19 January 1945 at Cambridge Cemetery, UK; Phillip Swarbrick, Alan Edwin Astill, Stanley James Minett, Mervyn George Isaac, Sydney Robert Fuller.
Photo supplied by and used with the permission of the family of
Rear Gunner Neville Owen Reed.

Graves Numbers and names from L-R:
15724 Swarbrick; 15723 Astill; 15722 Minett; 15721 Isaac; 15720 Fuller.

 

27 January 1945, official letter from Group Captain Commanding RAF Station Foulsham to 462 Squadron, Foulsham ...... (quote) .....

Photographs of funeral on 19th January, 1945

Herewith photographs for forwarding to the next
of kin in accordance with A.M.O.A.836/43 of the five
R.A.A.F. aircrew of your squadron, who were buried at
the Borough Cemetery, Cambridge at 14.00 hours on Friday
19th January 1945.

2. For assistance in identification it is notified
that the coffins in the photograph are placed in the
following order, reading from left to right of the
photographs:-

(1). AUS.427410 F/S. P. SWARBRICK.
(2). AUS.421143 P/O. A.E. ASTILL.
(3). AUS.423814 W/O. S.J. MINETT.
(4). AUS.433727 F/S. M. ISAAC.
(5). AUS.421198 W/O. S.R. FULLER.

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Headstone on grave for Alan Edwin Astill, 421143, RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

 

Pilot

Name: Alan Edwin ASTILL
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 421143
Date of Birth: 7 November 1920
Place of Birth: Chatswood, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 31 January 1942
Place of Enlistment: Sydney, NSW
Marital Status: Single
Next of Kin: James ASTILL
Date of Death: 14 January 1945
Rank at Death: Flying Officer
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Roseville NSW

Roll of Honour: Panel 109, Commemorative Area,
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Age at Death: 24
Grave reference: 15723
Cemetery: Cambridge City Cemetery, UK
Son of James Edwin and Maud ASTILL,
of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The inscription reads:
FLYING OFFICER
A. E. ASTILL
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
14TH JANUARY 1945 AGE 24

THY KINGDOM COME, O LORD,
THY WILL BE DONE

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Headstone on grave for Phillip Swarbrick, 427410, RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

Navigator

Name: Phillip SWARBRICK
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 427410
Date of Birth: 21 October 1912
Place of Birth: Perth, Western Australia
Date of Enlistment: 6 July 1942
Place of Enlistment: Perth, Western Australia
Marital Status: Married
Next of Kin: Edna Beryl SWARBRICK (wife)
Date of Death: 14 January 1945
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Perth, Western Australia

Roll of Honour: Panel 109, Commemorative Area,
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Age at Death: 32
Grave reference: 15724
Cemetery: Cambridge City Cemetery, UK
Son of James and Beatrice SWARBRICK, of Perth, WA, and
Husband of Edna Beryl SWARBRICK of Gwalia, WA.

The inscription reads:
427410 FLIGHT SERGEANT
P. SWARBRICK
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
14TH JANUARY 1945 AGE 32

LOVING MEMORIES ALWAYS.
BERYL AND NOELLE

Previously in Crew 36, Pilot Walter Donald Friend.
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Headstone on grave for Stanley James Minett, 423814, RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

Bomb Aimer

Name: Stanley James MINETT
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 423814
Date of Birth: 20 March 1917
Place of Birth: Eastwood, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 18 July 1942
Place of Enlistment: Sydney, New South Wales
Marital Status: Married
Next of Kin: Valentine MINETT (wife)
Date of Death: 14 January 1945
Rank at Death: Warrant Officer
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Sydney, New South Wales

Roll of Honour: Panel 109, Commemorative Area,
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Age at Death: 27
Grave reference: 15722
Cemetery: Cambridge City Cemetery, UK
Son of John and May MINETT, of Sydney, NSW and
Husband of Valentina MINETT, of North Sydney, NSW.

The inscription reads:
423814 WARRANT OFFICER
S.J. MINETT
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
14TH JANUARY 1945 AGE 27

(lower section obscured by plants)

Previously in Crew 36, Pilot Walter Donald Friend.
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Headstone on grave for Sydney Robert Fuller, 421198, RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

Wireless Operator

Name: Sydney Robert FULLER
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 421198
Date of Birth: 11 November 1923
Place of Birth: Chatswood, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 31 January 1942
Place of Enlistment: Sydney, New South Wales
Marital Status: Single
Next of Kin: Richard FULLER (father)
Date of Death: 14 January 1945
Rank at Death: Warrant Officer
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Brooklyn, New South Wales

Roll of Honour: Panel 109, Commemorative Area,
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Age at Death: 21
Grave reference: 15720
Cemetery: Cambridge City Cemetery, UK
Son of Richard and Doris Christina FULLER,
of Chatswood, NSW.

The inscription reads:
421198 WARRANT OFFICER
S. R. FULLER
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
14TH JANUARY 1945 AGE 21

DEEP IN OUR HEARTS
A MEMORY IS KEPT
OF ONE TOO DEAR TO FORGET

Previously in Crew 36, Pilot Walter Donald Friend.
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Headstone on grave for Mervyn George Isaac, 433727, RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

 

Mid-Upper Gunner

Name: Mervyn George ISAAC
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 433727
Date of Birth: 8 March 1925
Place of Birth: Young, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 8 May 1943
Place of Enlistment: Sydney, New South Wales
Marital Status: Single
Next of Kin: Ernest ISAAC (father)
Date of Death: 14 January 1945
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Goulburn, New South Wales

Roll of Honour: Panel 109, Commemorative Area,
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Age at Death: 19
Grave reference: 15721
Cemetery: Cambridge City Cemetery, UK
Son of Ernest George and Mercy Marion ISAAC,
of Goulburn, NSW.

The inscription reads:
433727 FLIGHT SERGEANT
M. G. ISAAC
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
14TH JANUARY 1945 AGE 19

.... NOBLY DONE.
.................. REMEMBERED
(lower section obscured by plants)

Previously in Crew 36, Pilot Walter Donald Friend.
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Sgt Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, later posted to 462 Squadron.
Photo supplied by and used with the permission of the family of
Rear Gunner Neville Owen Reed.

 

 

Rear Gunner

Name: Neville Owen REED
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 435209
Date of Birth: 30 January 1922
Place of Birth: Caboolture, Queensland
Date of Enlistment: 29 March 1943
Place of Enlistment: Brisbane, Queensland
Next of Kin: Audrey REED
Date of Discharge: 8 March 1946
Rank at Discharge: Warrant Officer
Posting at Discharge: 9 Aircrew Holding Unit
Prisoner of War: No

Previously in Crew 36, Pilot Walter Donald Friend.
Survivor of Crew 23, Pilot Cookson, 14/15 October 1944.
Survivor of Crew 52, Pilot Astill, 14 January 1945.

Photo at left: Sgt Neville Owen Reed, possibly taken soon after receiving his Air Gunner's Badge, and subsequent promotion to Sergeant on 6 January 1944.
A separate page has been created for Neville Owen Reed.

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Flight Engineer George Arthur Edgar Sanday, 1896933 RAFVR, of 462 Squadron, Driffield and Foulsham.
From the photo of Crew 36 Pilot Friend,
supplied by the family of Rear Gunner Neville Owen Reed.

 

 

 

Flight Engineer

Name: George Arthur Edgar SANDAY
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1896933
Date of Birth: 16 September 1904
Marital Status: Married
Next of Kin: Phoebe Eileen SANDAY
Date of Death: 24 February 1945 **
Rank at Death: Sergeant **
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron **

Previously in Crew 36, Pilot Walter Donald Friend.
Survivor of Crew 52, Pilot Astill, 14 January 1945.
** KIA in role of Special Duties, Crew 39, Pilot Ely, 24 February 1945.

At left : George Arthur Edgar SANDAY, the very tall and much older looking Flight Engineer, cropped from the crew photo on the Crew 36 Pilot Friend page. Before the War, he was a village policeman in Wiltshire. The Friend crew was posted to 462 Squadron Driffield on the 16 September 1944 which was also the date of George Sanday's 40th Birthday. He was identified by his his grand-daughter Nancy.
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Headstone on grave for Leslie Edward Miles, 1894484, RAFVR, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

 

Leslie Edward Miles, 1894484 RAFVR, 462 Squadron, Driffield and Foulsham.

 

 

Special Duties

Name: Leslie Edward MILES (Les)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1894484
Date of Birth: 11 December 1924
Marital Status: Single
Next of Kin: William Lewis MILES (father)
Date of Death: 14 January 1945
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No

Age at Death: 20
Grave reference: Sec. R.S. Grave 1295
Cemetery: Kensal Green (St. Mary's) Roman Catholic Cemetery, London, UK
Son of William Lewis MILES and Emily Jane MILES, of Queen's Park.

The inscription reads:
1894484 SERGEANT
L. E. MILES
FLIGHT ENGINEER
ROYAL AIR FORCE
14TH JANUARY 1945 AGE 20

IN LOVING MEMORY
OF OUR DEAR SON
REST IN PEACE

 

 

At left: Sgt Leslie Edward MILES, 1894484 RAFVR.
His usual role was Flight Engineer for Crew 26, Pilot Donald Grant UTHER. This portrait has been cropped from the Uther Crew photo.

Les Miles had previously carried out 22 Ops with Uther and Crew 26. His fatal flight with Astill's crew was the first and only flight he had undertaken without his usual crew.

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Crew Information

Six members of this crew were previously in Crew 36, Pilot Walter Donald Friend. Please refer to their page for details of their training, crew formation and Ops. They were left without a Pilot when Friend was hospitalised on 17 October 1944. The six remaining crew were re-assigned to Pilot Alan Edwin Astill after his arrival on 12 December 1945 (re-numbered as Crew 52 by ex-462 Sqdn Association, and various authors). In the meantime, on the night of 14/15 October 1944, Rear Gunner Reed had survived a Halifax Aircraft loss during an Op as substitute Rear Gunner for the Cookson crew (details on that page), and had returned to the Squadron.

Astill's posting to 462 Squadron in December 1944, is recorded in the Squadron's ORB, form 540, page 39, Part III Personnel .....

Officers posted to Squadron during the month ......... P/O A.E. ASTILL (A.421143), ...... (with four other officers)

Additional information from the individual Aircrew Arrival Forms:-

Pilot Alan Edwin ASTILLarrived at 462 Squadron on 12 December 1944 from previous posting at 1663 CU (Rufforth); temporary rank of Pilot Officer on 3 August 1944; trained as Pilot; courses attended not listed; trained in Halifax aircraft (no other types listed); fit for flying duties A1B/A2B; next of kin James Edwin Astill (father), c/- Bank of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.

Navigator Phillip SWARBRICK – arrived at 462 Squadron on 16 September 1944 from previous posting at 1658 CU (Riccall, Yorkshire); temporary rank of Flight Sergeant on 7 May 1944; trained as Navigator; attended courses for pilots, navigation, bombing, air gunnery, astro; trained in Tiger Moth, Anson, Wellington and Halifax aircraft; fit for all flying duties; married on 1 August 1940; next of kin Edna Beryl Swarbrick (wife) of Gwalia, via Kalgoorlie, Western Australia; additional contact Beatrice Swarbrick (mother) of Nedlands, Perth, WA.

Bomb Aimer Stanley James MINETTarrived at 462 Squadron on 16 September 1944 from previous posting at 1658 CU (Riccall, Yorkshire); temporary rank of Warrant Officer on 1 October 1944; trained as Navigator B; attended courses for navigator, bomb aimer, gunnery, astro, G.R.; trained in Anson, Battle, Wellington and Halifax II aircraft; fit for all flying duties; married on 22 September 1939; next of kin Valentine Minett (wife) of North Sydney, NSW; additional contact Mrs Alan Clark (friend) of Boughton Monchelsea, Kent, UK. (CWGC list wife's name as Valentina.)

Wireless Operator Sydney Robert FULLER – arrived at 462 Squadron on 16 September 1944 from previous posting at 1658 CU (Riccall, Yorkshire); temporary rank of Warrant Officer on 19 August 1944; trained as Wireless Air Gunner; attended courses at W/AG, OTU (2), AFU and CU; trained in Fleet Fort II, Norseman, Bolingbroke, Battle, Anson, Hampden, Wellington and Halifax aircraft; fit for all flying duties; next of kin Richard Fuller (father) of Chatswood, NSW; additional contact Mrs D. Fuller (mother) of Brooklyn, NSW.

Flight Engineer George Arthur Edgar SANDAYarrived at 462 Squadron on 16 September 1944 from previous posting at 1658 CU (Riccall, Yorkshire); temporary rank of Sergeant on 31 July 1944; trained as flight engineer; attended courses for Halifax II and Halifax III; trained in Halifax II, Anson, Lancaster, B'ftr (sic, Beaufighter?) aircraft; fit for flying duties A1B & ACMB; married in 1930; next of kin Phoebe Eileen Sanday (wife) of Police Station, Hindon, near Salisbury, Wiltshire; additional contact W.T.C. Sanday (father) of "Boynton" Upper Newtown, Worcester.

Mid-Upper Gunner Mervyn George ISAAC – arrived at 462 Squadron on 16 September 1944 from previous posting at 1658 CU (Riccall, Yorkshire); temporary rank of Flight Sergeant on 6 July 1944; trained as Mid-Upper Gunner; attended courses at ITS, AGS, OTU and CU; trained in Anson, Wellington and Halifax II aircraft; fit for full flying duties; next of kin Ernest George Isaac (father) of Goulburn, NSW; additional contact Mrs W.J. Hermon (aunt) of Reading, UK.

Rear Gunner Neville Owen REED – Crew Arrival Form not included with file.

Special Duties Leslie Edward MILES – arrived at 462 Squadron (undated) from previous posting at 1658 CU (Riccall, Yorkshire); temporary rank of Sergeant on 15 May 1944; trained as Flight Engineer; attended courses at ITW, S of TT, and HCU; trained in Halifax II aircraft; fit for all flying duties; next of kin William Lewis Miles (father) of Queen's Park Estate, Paddington, London, W.10, UK; additional contact Emilly Jane Miles (sic) (mother) of the same address. (According to the 462 Squadron ORB, the arrival date for the Uther crew, including Miles, was early September 1944, but possibly on-site 31 August 1944.)

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Operational Details of Crew 52 at Foulsham, 1945. No details have been located of any Ops carried out by this crew at Driffield in December 1944. No Op with Astill as 2nd Pilot was listed in the ORB in the period after his arrival on 12 December and prior to 5 January 1945. However, this may have occurred, but his name inadvertently omitted from the Ops records. Training flights most likely occurred, but are not listed for this crew in the ORB.

05 January 1945 – Op 1
462 Squadron ORB, Form 541, January 1945, Operations, page 222. Astill and Crew in Halifax III MZ479, with 8th man F/Sgt Athol William Caddy 441345 RAAF on Special Duties; up at 1625 and down at 2038. Special duty flight to HELIGOLAND area on a SPOOF raid. WINDOW was released in that area.
462 Squadron ORB, Form 540, January 1945, Operations, page 41 ..... (quote) .... "Twelve aircraft operated at night in two "WINDOW" attacks,. one in the RUHR and the other in the HELIGOLAND area."
The usual role for Athol William Caddy was Mid-Upper Gunner with Crew 55, Pilot Alan Gibson SWANN, 401175 RAAF. On this flight with Astill's crew, Caddy's role was to dispense WINDOW.
(For this ORB entry, F/Sgt P Swarbrick 427410 RAAF was incorrectly listed as Swerbrick 427401; and W/O S R Fuller incorrectly listed as W R Fuller.)

06 January 1945 – Op 2
462 Squadron ORB, Form 541, January 1945, Operations, page 226. Astill and Crew in Halifax III NR284, with 8th man F/Sgt D. Whitehead 1322318 RAF, on Special Duties; up at 1627 and down at 2132. Special duty flight to RUHR area on a SPOOF raid. WINDOW was released in that area.
462 Squadron ORB, Form 540, January 1945, Operations, page 41 ..... (quote) .... "Twelve aircraft were again required for "WINDOW" operations and all aircraft took off by 1630 hours. Once again they were in two forces though very close to each other. One aircraft MZ469-"N"/462 (Captain P/O. ROHRLACH) reported missing from this operation, and another MZ370-"R"/462 (Captain F/O TAYLOR) returned early with engine trouble."
The usual role for Whitehead was Rear Gunner with various crews, initially with Crew 1, Pilot D E S SHANNON 400493 RAAF. On this flight with Astill's crew, Whitehead's role was to dispense WINDOW.
(For this ORB entry, P/O Astill 421143 RAAF was incorrectly listed as 421163.)

14 January 1945 – Op 3
462 Squadron ORB, Form 541, January 1945, Operations, page 226. Astill and Crew in Halifax III LL598, with 8th man 1894484 Sgt Leslie Edward Miles on Special Duties; up at 1633 Base and crashed at 1703. ...... (quote) .... "When at 4,000 feet, the starboard outer engine of this aircraft caught fire, the starboard outer mainplane also caught fire and the aircraft crashed 2 miles West of SHIPDHAM Airfield, killing all members of the crew excepting the Flight Engineer (Sgt SANDAY) and the rear gunner (F/SGT REED) who baled out and made a safe landing. Their aircraft was a total loss and the remains were salvaged. Sgt MILES was buried in LONDON and the Australian members were buried at CAMBRIDGE regional Cemetery."
462 Squadron ORB, Form 540, January 1945, Operations, page 42/43 ..... (quote) .... "Fifteen aircraft were briefed at 1630 hours, to take off on a "WINDOW" attack, each aircraft dropping 1000 lbs of bombs on MANNHEIM. There were two non-starters due to U/S. aircraft, and at 1703 hours, a tragic crash. Aircraft LL.598-"A"/462 (Captain – P/O. ASTILL) crashed on fire, and six members of the crew were killed. The Flight Engineer and the Rear Gunner escaped by parachute, both slightly injured. The Target Area was well defended, Flak accurate and moderate. Four of the aircraft were slightly damaged by Flak."
The usual role for Leslie Edward Miles was Flight Engineer with Crew 26, with Pilot Donald Grant UTHER, 423361 RAAF. On this flight with Astill's crew, Whitehead's role was to dispense WINDOW.

Total Ops
Pilot Astill and crew – 3 night Ops, sadly with the loss of the aircraft and 6 of the crew on the 3rd Op.

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Loss of Aircraft Halifax III LL598 Z5-A

(Details to be added – please visit again.)

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