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1. Name
William George Southcote ASTON
2. Date Commissioned
1 January 1934
3. Date retired
14 March 1959
4. Rank
Major RM
5. Awarded wings
August 1938
6. Flying schools
No.1 F.T.S, R.A.F Leuchars
7. Aircraft types flown

Training aircraft such as Tutor and Hart Variants
TBR types eg Swordfish

8. Squadrons

825 Sqdn April 1940 to June 1940
771 Sqdn July 1940 to December 1941
833 Sqdn December 1941 to May 1943 as Sqdn CO

9. Aircraft Carriers
Furious.
Courageous
Glorious
Ameer (as CDR (F))
10. Senior Appointments

CO 833 Sqdn December 1941 to May 1943
Cdr (F) HMS Ameer 1944 - 45
Cdr (F) RNAS Henstridge 28 January 1946
Cdr (F) RNAS Abbotsinch 4 May 1946

11.Decorations

1939 - 45 War medals including Atlantic, Burma
Mention in Despatches December 1945

12. General

During Bill Aston's short period in 825 Sqdn they were very busily involved covering the Dunkirk withdrawal. Operating from Detling in Kent they supported the retreat of the BEF by attacking tanks, vehicles and troops to delay the German advance. In July 1940 they also attacked barges near Rotterdam and laid mines in the estuary of the Scheldt. The CO at the time was Lieut. Commander E. Esmonde who later won a posthumous VC in the raid on the Scharnhorst in the Channel.

As CO of 833 TBR Sqdn he operated under Coastal Command and also in the Western Desert against the Afrika Korps in 1942. The Squadron was also involved in "Torch" (Invasion of North Africa).

In 1944 he became Commander (F) of HMS Ameer operating with the East Indies Fleet in the Indian Ocean, the primary role of the Fleet being to give offshore support to the 14th Army in Burma.

On 3 January 1945, Operation Lightning, (the assault on Akyab) was mounted by 3 Commando Brigade under Brigadier Campbell Hardy. Air support was give by Hellcats of 804 Squadron (formerly led by Capt. A. E. Marsh, RM) operating from "Ameer" and the island was fully occupied by the 4th January without resistance.

After the capture of Akyab there followed the landings on Ramree and Cheduba islands. This again involved 3 Commando Brigade landing at Myebon on 12 January 1945 and on 22 January for the assault on Kangaw. This was part of Operation Matador, the capture of Ramree, for which air cover was again provided by 804 Squadron from "Ameer" strafing ahead of the troops. On 26 January "Ameer" was again providing cover for Force Wellington - Royal Marines of the East Indies Fleet under Col P. Picton - Phillips RM and 707 LCP Flotilla (Capt. M.W. Patterson RM) for assault on Cheduba. 804 Squadron from "Ameer" again provided the air support by ground strafing.

"Ameer" then took part in a comprehensive photo recce of the Malayan Peninsuala and Sumatra in readiness for the reconquest of Malaya (Operation Zipper). "Ameer" with 804 Squadron provided the fighter cover whilst 888 Squadron flying special P.R. Hellcats from "Empress" carried out a detailed photographic surveys usually from heights of more than 30,000 feet. On 29th Febuary during one of these tasks "Ameer's" 804 Squadron shot down two Japanese Oscars and one Dinah, - the Japanese aircraft were the first to be shot down by fighters from a British escort carrier.

Further fighter strikes by 804 Squadron from "Ameer" against targets in Sumatra were made during Operation Balsam - 18 to 20 June. In July they made more raids on Car Nicobar and Nancowry which led to a Japanese suicide attack on the on 26th July. "Ameer" had a narrow escape from one "Kamikaze" which struck the sea only 500 yards from her.

This was the last air operatian in which Bill Aston was involved as the war against Japan ended a few weeks later. He then returned to the UK in "Ameer" in December 1945 and after two short postings at Naval Air Stations he returned to rather less exciting Corps duties which included a tour in 42 Commando in 1946 - 47 during the Palestine troubles.

He retired as a Major in 1959.

 

 

13. R.A.F Rank Temp Flying Officer 2 January 1938 to 26 July 1939