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No. 79 Squadron
|Pilot W/O William Charles Leahy, 421683 (KIA, BR) Sydney, NSW
Crashed September 22, 1945
Built by Supermarine as a model LF (Low altitude) Mark VIII. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number MT509. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia arriving during July 1944.
Assigned Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) serial number A58-489. On July 4, 1944 received by 3 AD and reassembled. Next, assigned to 6 AD for temporary storage during June 10 - August 30, 1944. On November 1, 1944 assigned to 79 Squadron but did not begin service until December 6, 1944. On March 23, 1945 assigned code "UP-L". No known nickname or nose art.
On May 10, 1945 took off piloted by F/L Rumbold. During the combat mission over Doro village, damaged by anti-aircraft fire in the right mainplane at 2:30pm, but landed safely without injury to the pilot. Afterwards, repaired by 9 RSU and returned to the squadron on May 15, 1945.
On September 22, 1945 at 9:30am took off from Pitu Airfield on Morotai piloted by W/O William Charles Leahy as one of six Spitfires on a test flight. Owing to the failure of his section leader's radio, W/O Leahy took the lead from F/O Smithells and flew very low over Lake Galela on northern Halmahera Island. For unknown reasons, this aircraft was seen to strike the water, disintegrated and sank.
Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the pilot's body was recovered by Japanese forces then turned over to an Australian officer and the remains were transported to Makassar and was buried at Makassar War Cemetery. Later, his body was exhumed and transported to Ambon.
Leahy was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He was permanently buried at Ambon War Cemetery at grave 28. C. 14.
ADF Serials - Spitfire A58-489
CWGC - William Charles Leahy
Late Mark Spitfire Aces 1942-45 includes a photo of this aircraft in flight
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information
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September 20, 2020
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