Home' Air Force News : April 26th 2012 Contents 5
April 26, 2012
FLTLT Sean Watson
and Andrew Stackpool
SEVENTY years after his final mis-
sion, SGT William James Smith, of
457SQN, has been laid to rest.
The Spitfire pilot was buried
with full military honours at Cassel
Cemetery in France on April 19.
He was lost on operations on
May 9, 1942.
AVM Mark Skidmore -- repre-
senting CAF AIRMSHL Geoff
Brown -- and French GEN Jean-
Luc Crochard joined members of
SGT Smith's family and French and
Australian servicemen and dignitar-
ies at the reinterment ceremony.
AVM Skidmore said he was
thankful for the service and sacrifice
of SGT Smith.
"I am honoured to attend to see
that he has received a burial with
the dignity and respect he deserves,"
The ceremony included cer-
emonial rifle volleys by Australia's
Federation Guard, the laying of
wreaths, recital of The Ode, and the
Last Post and Rouse bugle calls.
AVM Skidmore presented SGT
Smith's younger brother, Bert
Smith, with a folded RAAF ensign
as a symbol of his brother's sacri-
fice.On May 9, 1942, 12 457SQN
Spitfires had escorted a bombing
mission to Hazebrouk in northern
France and on the return to the
Britain were engaged by 20 to 25
Focke-Wulf Fw-190 fighter aircraft
from the Luftwaffe.
One of the Spitfires was VB
BM180, which was flown by SGT
After 70 years,
is laid to rest
Smith. He was last seen in a dog-
fight with an enemy aircraft 20,000
feet over the English Channel, near
the French coast.
His aircraft was not seen to go
down and he was subsequently post-
Late last year, a film crew was at
Hardifort in France filming a WWII
documentary. They were looking for
a Czech Spitfire that had crashed
after its pilot ejected safely.
Excavating in the area, they
came upon a completely buried and
They found human remains and
immediately ceased filming and
reported the find.
Identification of the remains
was based on official war records,
including the last known sightings
of SGT Smith, identification of the
aircraft type, and a number of per-
sonal artefacts, including RAAF
uniform items and an identification
disc inscribed with SGT Smith's
name and service number.
During the eulogy, Mr Smith
said he was glad that his brother
had been recovered. "SGT pilot
William Smith is no longer missing
and his name can now be removed
from the memorial on the Thames at
Runnymede," he said.
"Bill, you will always be to us
the handsome, dashing Spitfire pilot
who gave his life for us, for his
country and France.
"Return now to the soil of
France who has held you in her
bosom and hidden you for all these
"We will never forget."
SGT Smith was born in
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia on
December 10, 1917, and attended
Melbourne High School from 1930
He enlisted in the RAAF on
Remembrance Day 1940. After his
initial training, he arrived in Britain
in September 1941.
He started operational flying
with 452SQN. He transferred to
457SQN on April 9, 1942, and was
reported missing in action a month
At the time of his disappearance,
which came only 15 months after
his enlistment, SGT Smith was 25.
In 2009, the remains of another
lost Spitfire pilot, FLTLT Henry
'Lacy' Smith, were found near Caen
in northern France.
His remains were buried with
full military honours in the Ranville
cemetery on April 19 last year.
Subsequently the remains of
his Spitfire were transported to the
RAAF Museum where they are
being stabilised and cleansed in
preparation for subsequent display.
to him at the
Above, AVM Mark
Skidmore and French
Crochard join family
and French and
and dignitaries at the
at Cassel Cemetery.
Photo: FSGT John Carroll
Left, Spitfire pilot SGT
William Smith. He was
25 when he died.
Bill, you will
always be to
us the hand-
who gave his
life for us, for
-- brother Bert Smith
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Wh o ?
F x d v b ?
R d w v off ?
wh do I u ?
Wh m I d o?
17,000 Gov G ?
Wh hou d
N v G ?
Po v C hflow?
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