Home' Air Force News : December 8th 2011 Contents 7
December 8, 2011
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THE remains of another Australian
Spitfire pilot missing in action from
WWII have been found in northern
He was SGT William Smith,
from 457SQN RAAF.
SGT Smith, 24, was from
Whittlesea in Victoria and was
posted to the squadron, which was
attached to the RAF.
Defence Science and Personnel
Minister Warren Snowdon announced
the discovery on November 28.
It comes about a year after
FLTLT Henry 'Lacy' Smith and his
Spitfire and body were also found
in northern France.
The latest story can be traced
back to May 9, 1942, when 12
457SQN Spitfires had escorted
a bombing mission to Bruges
in Belgium and on the return to
Britain were engaged by between
20 and 25 Focke-Wulf Fw-190
fighter aircraft from the German air
force, the Luftwaffe.
One of the Spitfires was VB
BM180, which was flown by SGT
SGT Smith was last seen in a
dogfight with an enemy aircraft
at 20,000 feet over the English
Spitfire pil t f
LAST SEEN IN
Smith who was
killed, age 24,
in his Spitfire in
France on May
FOUND IN THE WRECKAGE:
SGT William Smith's dog tags
Mr Snowdon said that the
remains of SGT Smith's Spitfire
were discovered at Hardifort in
northern France by a film crew pro-
ducing a WWII documentary.
"They were searching for a Czech
aircraft, which was historically docu-
mented as having been evacuated
safely by the pilot before it crashed,"
Mr Snowdon said.
"They unexpectedly discovered
human remains and stopped film-
The remains of the aircraft and
SGT Smith were buried under-
RAAF historian Dr Chris Clark
said the aircraft was destroyed and
its wreckage buried when it crashed
nose first at high speed into a pad-
In his post operation report,
the then CO 457SQN, SQNLDR
Brother, RAF, said SGT Smith was
a good and popular pilot "whose
quiet calm way of going about his
duties gave confidence to his fellow
Identification of the remains was
based on official war records, includ-
ing the last known sightings of SGT
Smith's location, identification of the
aircraft type and a number of person-
al artefacts, which included RAAF
uniform items and an identification
disc inscribed with SGT Smith's
name and service number.
Mr Snowdon said Air Force
had started planning to rein-
ter SGT Smith in the nearest
Commonwealth War Grave in
France next year.
Dr Clark said that when WWII
ended, the RAAF had 884 personnel
recorded as missing in action, most
in the South-West Pacific theatre.
Only 16 were listed as having disap-
peared over Europe.
"Whenever the past yields up
another of these discoveries, the
Air Force will continue to do eve-
rything it can to recover and honour
the remains that are found, and
ensure they are properly reburied,"
Dr Clark said.
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