Robert Frederick Ashby



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It is with sadness that we report the passing of Glider Pilot Regiment Veteran Staff Sergeant Robert Frederick Ashby recently. Robert enlisted for service with the Royal Army Service Corps on 15 Mar 40. He went to Glider Training School No 5 in 1943 and then on to the Heavy Glider Conversion Course No 22 to graduate on 5 Apr 43. He went on to play a part in the three principal airborne operations in North West Europe. In Normandy he was commanding Chalk 43 of B Squadron on Operation Tonga. Tonga was the airborne night landings that preceded the seaborne invasion,. His co-pilot was Sgt J Donaldson. Their load was a small Royal Engineer detachment equipped with a bulldozer. They landed their side loading Horsa without damage but were faced with a problem when the bulldozer wedged itself on the exit ramp. Robert’s solution was simple – the ramp props were tugged away and the bulldozer dropped to the ground, where it was very quickly in action clearing the landing zone. The other part of his load was a Paratrooper with a dislocated shoulder who therefor couldn’t jump and had hitched a ride into action.
His next operation was Market Garden, again with Sgt Donaldson. Though they were caught up in the action, which included being mortared and sniped at they were able to escape. His last operation was Varsity, the Rhine Crossing. He survived and retired from active service in Apr 46.
The funeral of Robert Frederick Ashby will be held on 20 Jan 20 at 1145 in the Chichester Crematorium (PO19 7UH). His family are happy for those who wish to attend but have stipulated that there is to be no overt military presence or memorabilia. Please respect their wishes.


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