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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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452 Squadron Crest
30.06.1943 No. 452 Squadron Spitfire Vc AR523 QY-F Fl/Sgt. Duncan

Operation: Scramble

Date: 30th June 1943 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 452 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Spitfire Vc

Serial: AR523

Code: QY-F

Base: Strauss Airfield, Northern Territory, Australia


Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Colin Ronald Duncan AUS/401778 RAAF Age 24. Survived


The Squadron was in readiness for a possible attack by the Japanese.

At 11:25 hrs they were scrambled from Strauss airfield, Fl/Sgt. Duncan was flying as Blue 4 to F/O. Robert Harold Whillans 404693. The squadron having gained height, flew westwards towards Peron Island at approximately 32,000 ft.

An enemy formation of some 27 bombers with 21 fighter escort were sighted flying east almost over Peron Island. When in position the squadron turned to port and attacked the formation. Blue section were the last to attack. F/O. Whillans noticed that Fl/Sgt. Duncan was lagging badly. Fl/Sgt. Duncan was not seen again by his leader

Above Rear: F/O. John Philip Adam 404491, F/O. Reginald Ross Williams 402675, Fl/Sgt. Frederick Richard John McDowell 403070, W/Cdr. Clive Robertson Caldwell DFC and Bar, FO Adrian Phillip Goldsmith DFC DFM. Fl/Lt. Edward Smith Hall 403013, Sgt. Colin Ronald Duncan 401778.

Front: Sgt. Frederick Cheslyn White 403614, F/O. John George Gould 404613, Fl/Sgt. Paul Dominnic Tully 404998. (Please see notes for further details on these pilots)

The combat report from Colin Duncan stated that he had sighted the enemy bombers, but that his engine was running rough with smoke being emitted. He concluded that he must have a glycol leak which prevented him staying up with his leader. Fl/Sgt. Keith Sydney Cross 403130 was also lagging but they both went into the attack. on a 'Betsy'. that had become separated from the remainder.

Fl/Sgt. Duncan opened fire at 350 yards, closing in to 150 yards. He gave a four second burst but after a few seconds his cannon ceased to fire. He did not observe any return fire.

Braking away with glycol streaming from the engine. He decided that as his engine was now on fire he had no option but bale out. He struggled to eject the hood which did eventually fall away and he baled out.

A number of the pilots saw a parachute and they reported the position. Search parties were sent out later that afternoon.

On the 01st July a man was seen from the air and later recognised as Fl/Sgt. Duncan. Pilots from the squadron over the following days, dropped cigarettes and food to him.

It would not be until the 04th July that they eventually found him, admitted to No. 1 Medical Receiving Station for treatment to burns to his right arm suffered during his escape from the aircraft.

The wreckage was in such a remote spot within the Litchfield National Park that it remained undiscovered until March 1996 when it was seen by a helicopter pilot. The RAAF then visited the sight and confirmed that it was indeed Spitfire AR523. It was immediately placed as under protection by the NT Heritage Act.

Fl/Sgt. Keith Sydney Cross was also forced to make wheels up landing in his Spitfire BR546. He escaped with slight injuries but his aircraft suffered considerable damage. He survived the war.

Burial details:

None - survived the war. Born on the 04th August 1919 at St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia. Family lived at 23 Parkside Avenue, Balwyn, Victoria. Prior to service (enlisted on the 29th Much 1941) worked as a carpenter for A.A. Duncan of 123 William Street, Melbourne.

Following the war (as Fl/Lt) after his discharge from the RAAF on the 29th August 1945 ran a building company with his father and brother. Passed away on the 21st September, 1992 aged 73 after battle with cancer.

Notes on pilots photograph:
30 year old F/O. John Philip Adam was killed on the 26th September 1943 and buried at Adelaide River War Cemetery. Grave F.C.8.
F/O. Reginald Ross Williams born on the 2th November 1919 at Sydney, survived the war.
26 year old P/O. Frederick Richard John McDowell killed on the 06th July 1943 and buried at Adelaide River War Cemetery. Grave F.C11.
W/Cdr. Clive Robertson Caldwell DFC and Bar born on the 28th July 1911 survived the war as Australia's most 'colourful' fighter Ace.
F/O. Adrian Phillip Goldsmith DFC DFM survived the war, born on the 25th April 1921. However his 28 year old wife, Dorothea Rosemary Goldsmith missing believed killed when the ship she was travelling to Australia on was torpedoed twice on the 02nd April 1943 500 miles south east of Bermuda. He was shot down and injured on the 02nd May 1943 flying Spitfire BR526. Picked up the following day by a naval launch and admitted to Naval Hospital suffering from slight injuries.
Fl/Lt. Edward Smith Hall born on the 10th March 1918 at Sydney. Survived the war after some 34 operational sorties.
Sgt. Frederick Cheslyn White Born on the 19th March 1916. Survived a landing incident wit Spitfire BR568 on the 19th March 1943 when involved in a collision with Spitfire BS171 which was stationary, whilst with 457 Squadron - pilot not injured and survived the war.
F/O. John George Gould born on the 18th June 1916. Understood to have survived the war.
Fl/Sgt. Paul Dominnic Tully born on the 14th June 1917. Slightly injured following engine failure flying Spitfire BR386 force landing - no injuries. Again flying Spitfire BR546 on the 07th September 1943 after being hit by enemy fire escaped by parachute. Survived the war.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Neil Tuffield for bringing this loss to our attention. The National Archives of Australia for photographs and other details. Other sources as quoted below.

KTY 18.11.2019

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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