Sankey, Crofton Edmund Peter

He was the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Crofton Edward Pym Sankey DSO, RE, and Elizabeth Muriel Sankey. He showed considerable promise as a mathematician and was working for a mathematical scholarship, but the outbreak of war and initial British disasters caused him to decide upon making the army his career. He competed in the last Special Army Examination held in July 1941, and took fourth place. He secured a place in College XV, but was not otherwise prominent athletically. However, he had shown himself when at school to be a boy of unusual enterprise, determination and courage.

He went on to obtain a commission in the Royal Engineers  and was posted to 1st Parachute Squadron, RE, part of 1st Airborne Division. With this unit, he took part in the first major Allied airborne landings in Sicily in 1943. After that he returned to England to train for further airborne operations, and was attached to the headquarters unit of Royal Engineers (HQRE) which acted as part of HQ 1st Airborne Division.

This small formation consisted of the Commander Royal Engineers (CRE); the Intelligence Officer (IORE), the Adjutant, a Field Engineer (FE) and ten other ranks, mostly signallers.  Sankey held the post of Intelligence Officer Royal Engineers.

1st Airborne Division were not involved in the Normandy landings and throughout the summer of 1944 was constantly warned for operations that were then cancelled.

Operation Market Garden, Montgomery’s plan to seize the Dutch bridges over the Rhine using airborne forces and then use the bridges to get land forces across them, did take place.   Sankey was one of those who attempted to hold the town of Arnhem until they could meet with the British land forces.  On 17th September, he and ten other members of HQ Royal Engineers, safely landed their Airspeed Horsa glider in a cabbage field  near Wolfheze, a couple of miles west of Arnhem.    The following day they were subjected to an attack by fighter aircraft and eventually 1st Airborne Division moved to the Hartsteeine Hotel (now the Airborne Museum) which became their headquarters during the Battle for Arnhem.  HQRE were allocated an area in the grounds about a 100 yards from the hotel, and dug in, adding four-inch logs as overhead cover against mortar and shell fire. Over the next few days they were subjected to shelling and small arms fire and from 21st  September by continuous mortar fire.

Sankey was killed on 23rd September, shot in the chest by a sniper and died instantly.    He lies in grave 23.A.18 of the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.


War: World War 2

  • Surname: Sankey
  • Forenames or initials: Crofton Edmund Peter
  • House: College
  • Years in School: 1936-1941
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Regiment: 1st Parachute Squadron, RE, attached to HQ 1st Airborne Division
  • Date of Birth: 3rd April 1923
  • Date of Death: 23rd September 1944
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner B2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery: Grave 23.A.18