CAPTAIN IVAN SMIRNOFF
RUSSIA'S 4TH HIGHEST ACE IN WWI
NATURALISED DUTCH CITIZEN
CAPTAIN OF A CRASHED DC-3 DAKOTA

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Captain Ivan Vasielivich "Turc" Smirnoff was born at dawn on 30 January 1895 on a small farm near Vladimir, about 120 miles west of Moscow.

 

Ivan Smirnoff was Russia's fourth highest Ace in World War I. He was credited with shooting down 11 German aircraft. He was highly decorated as follows:-

- Croix de Guerre
- Cross of St. George (when he was foot soldier)
- White Eagle of Siberia
- Order of St. Anna
- Order of St. George (equivalent to our Victoria Cross)
- Order of St. Stanislaus

Ivan was naturalised as a Dutch citizen. In early 1942, Captain Smirnoff had flown his DC-3 Dakota transport aircraft between Java and Australia evacuating Royal Netherlands Indies Airlines office and ground staff, along with civilians and service personnel.

On 3 March 1942, Dutch Dakota DC-3 PK-AFV of the KNILM (Netherlands East Indies KLM) piloted by Captain Ivan Smirnoff, left Bandung in Java headed for Australia with a plane load of evacuees and a box of diamonds worth approximately 300,000. They managed to escape Java just 3 days before the Japanese took the Bandung area. They were attacked by three Japanese Zeros about 80 kms north of Broome. Captain Smirnoff was wounded several times in his arms and hip. Smirnoff managed to put the Dakota into a steep spiral dive with the Zeros in pursuit and made a forced landing on the beach. The box of diamonds went missing after the crash.

 

Full details of the above crash
and the loss of the diamonds

 

Ivan Smirnoff eventually died in a Catholic clinic on the Spanish Island of Majorca on 23 October 1959.

The National Archives' ANGAM Database shows the following records held regarding Smirnoff:-

SMIRNOFF Tivan - Nationality: Dutch - Arrived Perth per Dutch Air Force Plane 13 March 19421942 to
1942PP246/4DUTCH/SMIRNOFF T

 

LINKS TO OTHER INTERNET SITES

Ivan Smirnov
The Aerodrome Home Page

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"The Hidden Chapters - Untold Stories of Australians at War in the Pacific"
by Robert Piper

 

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This page first produced 2 January 2000

This page last updated 05 September 2015