CRASH OF A SPITFIRE
INTO THE SEA OFF POINT CHARLES
ON 15 MARCH 1943
RAAF F.VC Spitfire, A58-92 (BS231) piloted by S/Ldr Thorold-Smith, the Commanding Officer of 452 Squadron, departed RAAF Darwin with four other Spitfires at 10:30 hours to return to Strauss after practice night flying. On becoming airborne, the section received a "Scramble" order, and S/Ldr Thorold-Smith was told to lead the Wing. They rendezvoused with 54 Squadron aircraft and climbed steadily. At approximately 17,000 feet two aircraft from S/Ldr Thorold-Smith's section had dropped out due to lack of oxygen.
When at 20,000 feet the section sighted a large formation of enemy aircraft at approximately 21,000 feet, 7 to 10 miles North West of themselves and flying towards Darwin for a bombing raid. The section climbed alongside the enemy formation which consisted of 20 bombers and a close escort of 22 fighters. By that time the Wing comprised 19 aircraft some of whom were straggling behind. When about 500 feet above the bombers S/Ldr Thorold-Smith gave the order to attack the bombers, the section made for the bombers, but were intercepted by the enemy fighters.
About thirty seconds after the initial attack, Flight Lieutenant Ball witnessed a Spitfire, turning from West to North and smoking in a slight dive, approximately over Point Charles. Flying Officer Goldsmith also reported seeing a Spitfire smoking in a vertical dive. Searches in the area that afternoon returned no results. (Map Reference 12.23 - 130.37)
Aircraft from 452 Squadron were sent out that afternoon to search the Point Charles area out to sea North West of Point Charles for any signs of the crashed Spitfire, a parachute or a dinghy. Nothing was found. A map giving the exact position of the crash as seen from Flagstaff Hill was later sent to 452 Squadron from Fighter Sector Headquarters. An aircraft was sent up to search that location, but nothing was seen.
Squadron Leader Raymond Edward Thorold-Smith, DFC is still listed as missing.
I'd like to thank Daniel Leahy for his assistance with this web page.
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 12 September 2000
This page last updated 17 June 2017