Bio / Text:
Service Nos: R171312/J93511
Robert Joseph ASHLEY
From the National Archives AIR/27/1818 417 Squadron ORB
15th Jan 1945
Four sorties were carried out today with the loss of one aircraft.
We have been keeping our fingers crossed for the past ten days and hoping we had seen an end of our bad luck. But another pilot was reported missing after an escort mission over enemy territory in the Latisana(?) area.
CAN.R.171312 WO2 R.J. Ashley was flying in No.4 position of a section of four aircraft escorting kittihawk bombers in an attack against the Latisano bridge when his engine failed. He told his leader, CAN.20013 F/Lt. L.J. Hurrell, that he was going to bale out and F/L Hurrell assigned his No.3 pilot CAN.J.92459 P/O D.N.A.McKay, to keep an eye on him. McKay hovered in the area where Ashley's kite executed weird girations and in its gradual descent to earth.
When the aircraft struck the ground at approximately R.H.0865 (Italy sheet 1/500,000). P/O McKay had not seen the pilot bale out. In a report later, he said that from the drunken path the damaged aircraft traced to the ground, he felt sure there was nobody at the controls.
He reported too, that there had been snow on the ground in the area. This white background may have rendered it impossible to observer a white parachute descending. WO2 Ashley has been classified "missing".