LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Dion Graeme CRANSTON
Service No: 428098
Born: Bellerive TAS, 4 September 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 November 1942
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire UK
Died: Air Operations (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LL971), Germany, 22 June 1944, Aged 19 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Harold John and Edna Cranston, of Bellerive, Tasmania, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Bellerive TAS
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
The importance which the Germans placed on defence of the synthetic oil plants was amply shown on 21st-22nd June when Bomber Command mounted two raids, this time with smaller forces each of approximately 130 aircraft. The two Waddington squadrons (Nos. 463 and 467) provided 34 Lancasters for the first attack on the hydrogenation plant at Scholven-Buer near Gelsenkirchen but again a heavy undercast spoilt any attempts at precision bombing and only slight damage was inflicted on the plant for an expenditure of 570 tons of bombs and the loss of eight aircraft in the whole force. Few crews on return were able to claim an uneventful trip. No. 467 lost two Lancasters, had two more badly holed by flak and another, piloted by Flying Officer Sayers (1), slightly damaged during two separate encounters with night fighters, one of which was seen to be hit by his gunners’ return fire and plummet down with its port engine on fire. No. 463 lost only one Lancaster but another piloted by Pilot Officer Hattam (2) was heavily engaged by flak during the steady run-in to the target. Flight Lieutenant Baker of No. 97 bombed successfully but then his port-outer engine caught fire and he was soon afterwards hit by ground gunfire and had to evade fighters as well; from the same squadron a very experienced pilot, Squadron Leader Lewis Arthur John McLeod DFC (413409), failed to return. Losses and damage might even have been higher but for a new evasion technique employed by this force during its withdrawal. By prearrangement the force altered course and went down to a lower level, which appeared to cause difficulties for the ground gunners and also to mislead the night fighters, which lost contact.
(1) Flight Lieutenant John Lyall Sayers DFC & Bar (414844) was discharged from the RAAF on 7 May 1946.
(2) Flying Officer Raymond Frank Hattam DFC (410331) was discharged from the RAAF on 2 January 1946.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 202-3
Lancaster LL971 took off from RAF Waddington at 2304 hours on the night of 21/22nd June 1944 to bomb Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 14 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Seventeen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including LL 971 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Zwillbrock, a village practically on the Dutch/German border and some 8 kms west north west of Vreden, Germany.
The crew members of LL971 were:
Flight Lieutenant Lindsay Russell Brine (406636) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Dion Graeme Cranston (428098) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Vincent Donovan Luton (426778) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Stanley John Saligari (434842) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Foster Nelson Smith (871196) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant John Galloway Stewart (428371) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Bernard James Sutton (424893) (Bomb Aimer) Evaded Capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 10 April 1946
In a later report Flight Sergeant Sutton recorded: “The aircraft was shot down by a night fighter after leaving the target at about 0135 hours on the 22 June when approaching the Dutch border. The Pilot ordered put on your chutes. I had clipped on the right side of the pack when the plane seemed to blow up, and I found myself falling, so pulled my parachute and landed in a swamp. I buried my chute etc., and checked the contents of my pockets. I could see the plane burning fiercely half a mile from where I landed. I hid in the woods. The next day I walked west at dusk. I was approached by a Dutch farmer and taken to his farm where I spent the night and the following day. He then took me by bicycle to the house of a printer in Eibergen, where I spent 6 days. I then stayed in the house of a printer for 10 days. I then travelled by train to Eindhoven, and by bicycle to farm in Walkensiward. Thence to a lonely farm about 10 miles east of Llerna. Then Nuth for 10 days in the house of a school master. Then by train to Roermond for thirteen days in a wood shed in the forest. I was brought food every day by several men. On 11 August I crossed the Dutch-Belgian border near Ruglo and got to Maestricht. Finally by train to Liege and then on foot to Seraing where I spent 4 weeks in the house of a patriot until the town was liberated. (Report was dated 11 Sept 1944)
No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster DV280 (Flight Lieutenant Eric Alfred Leith Smith MID (415280) (Pilot)) on 22 June 1944.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED532 (Pilot Officer Edgar Vincent Dearnaley DFC (414341) (Pilot)) on 22 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 Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/8/513