CRASH OF A SPITFIRE
NEAR TABLETOP RANGE,
LITCHFIELD PARK, NT
ON 27 FEBRUARY 1943

 

On 27 February 1943, Mark F.VC Spitfire, A58-69 (BS175) of 452 Squadron RAAF, crashed inverted in bad weather at Tabletop Range, near Litchfield Park (near Batchelor), en route to Wyndham from Strauss airfield. The pilot Flying Officer William Hendrie Ford was killed.

 

nt115a.jpg (81649 bytes) nt115b.jpg (77414 bytes)
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Photos: Gary Smith

 

Gary Smith <sack@ozemail.com.au> visited the crash site on 15 April 2001. It was about a 1 hour walk round trip, starting from Petherick's Rainforest and following the walk labels "W1". Not much of the Spitfire remains, just a small scattering of twisted aluminium.

Gary advised that there were a number of hazards encountered during the long trek to the site:- Steep terrain, loose rocks plus there were heaps of leeches in the Rainforest...so take the salt. ;-)

The Lat/Long location of the plaque with the machine gun sitting only 3 feet away is as follows:-

S 13 degrees 6.850 minutes
E 130 degrees 40.106 minutes

John Watson visited the crash site in late July 2008 and reported as follows:-

I saw the information about Spitfire A58-69 on your site and we went to see it a few weekends ago. The GPS lat/long coordinates given are spot on. Its a good compact crash site but with little remaining. Its evident that much of the larger material has been removed over the years, although we did find (and leave on site) a button and a live 20mm round.

We accessed the site using GPS, from the NW via the rainforest. If you don't use GPS then avoid using the 100,000 topo chart as the topo details are inaccurate and also it does not use WGS84 coordinates. In the Dry season take a couple of liters of water per person and in the Wet; enjoy the leeches !

We accessed it from the northwest via the school, which is probably the worst route. A better suggestion is to drive north along the sealed road bordering the western side of Litchfield Park and investigate gravel roads heading east towards the ridgeline as the GPS distance counts down. You should be able to park a Km or so from the crash site, but ask around as its on private property. A good access route planning tool is Google Earth.

 


 

The following information is from the Commonwealth War Graves site:-

In Memory of

WILLIAM HENDRIE FORD

Flying Officer
401429
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Saturday, 27th February 1943. Age 24.

Son of Joseph William and Susan Wilhelmina Ford, of Prospect, South Australia.

Cemetery: ADELAIDE RIVER WAR CEMETERY, Northern Territory, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: R.D.7.

 


 

The following information is from the Australian War Memorial's Roll of Honour home page:-

Ford, William Hendrie
Number: 401429
Rank: Flying Officer [FO]
Unit: 452 Sqn
Service: RAAF
Conflict: 1939-1945
Date of Death: 27/02/1943
Place of Death: Wyndham, WA
Cause of Death: Flying Battle
Memorial Panel: 105

AWM148 Roll of Honour cards, 1939-1945 War, Air Force

 


 

Subject:     Spitfire A58-69
Date:              Tue, 8 Aug 2000 17:34:48 +1200
From:            "Robert De La Haye" <robertd@acconz.com>

Some info on 5/3/43 crash.aircraft struck bad weather and crashed inverted near Tabletop Range, Litchfield park, on what is now called Mt.Ford, after the pilot F/O W.H. Ford. A 20mm cannon is embedded in the rocks, forming part of a memorial to the pilot. This info is taken from an article in FLIGHTPATH, unfortunately I dont have issue or author info handy. Also mentioned in SPITFIRES OVER DARWIN. I got to about 2k from site in 99 but hampered by bad weather!  Hope this is of some help.

Great site!

Rob DeLaHaye

 


 

Subject:   Spitfire A58-69
Date:           Sat, 12 Aug 2000 14:45:43 +1200
From:          "Robert De La Haye" <robertd@acconz.com>

I've since dug the article out, cant give you the issue but was by Bob Alford. As with any research contradictions are common, SPITFIRES OVER DARWIN (Jim Grant) indicates the crash happened on 27/2/43!?

I've had an interest in nth oz war since early 80s,after buying a small Kookaburra book on RAAF mk.vc spits. I've travelled to N.T. about 8 times, mainly chasing Barra, and have always run out of time or transport to really poke around the old airfields and crash sites-one day!

In '93, I managed to get a flight over B24 POOCHIE out on the Daly River, looked much like the recent photo on your site. A friend had spent a hot, dusty and tiring day riding out to the crash from the Daly settlement and said it was very wrecked, wings supported by drums, and crumbling. I was surprised by the colour, expecting to see a bare metal finish, but looked distinctly pink! A peculiarity of OD when it weathers.

Regards Rob De La Haye

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 14 August 2000

This page last updated 31 August 2015