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1942 Spitfire & Pilot (Sgt W J Smith), Hardifort, France

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Remembering Sgt William James Smith, RAAF, lost exactly 70 years ago.

    9 May 1942 - 9 May 2012
    Last edited by Tangmere1940; 29th November 2012, 17:46.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    No, it is a CWGC plot in the town cemetery.

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  • me109g4
    replied
    Lots of great pictures,The cemetery looks very impressive,,was it a Military only cemetery?

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  • Dr. John Smith
    replied
    Andy,

    I see that the Daily Mail has picked up the story again (albeit somewhat belatedly*) see: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...-70-years.html - and you are specifically name checked in the article!

    (*PUBLISHED: 12:07, 26 April 2012 | UPDATED: 16:31, 26 April 2012)

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  • OZPete
    replied
    I was also privileged and honoured to be at the Service. It was a very moving experience to be involved in farewelling an Aussie airman, whose fate had had been unknown for nearly 70 years. It was very humbling to talk to Bert and his family and to learn of some of their experiences when they learnt of the discovery of SGT W.J 'Bill' Smith and his Spitfire.

    Thank-you for the posting of the photo's of the Guard of Honour.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Perhaps, not really, a "sad" conclusion. But I understand what you mean.

    In fact, despite all the mixed emotions, the family (especially brother Bert) were utterly delighted at the outcome. So, a very satisfactory conclusion, really.

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  • ~Alan~
    replied
    What an excellent documentary. Congratulations to all of those involved.

    It's a shame there had to be such a sad conclusion.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Steve

    I feel really bad about only speaking to you so briefly! Said hello, then got distracted to talk to one of about five hundred people...and then you were gone!

    What an amazing day, and so good to meet Bert and the family and to know how moved they were by everything. The handshake (which he didn't want to break!) and warm words from Bert left a lump in my throat that is still there!

    I will reply to your e-mail about the image of your son, Leo, at the ceremony.. One of the UK nationals have expressed an interest in using it.

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  • bradleygolding
    replied
    Hi Andy, and other readers. Just got back from France about an hour ago and spending a few more days in the UK before returning downunder. Great to meet you Andy albeit rather briefly, although I understand you were around in the afternoon as well. I was given your card and emailed you (which I presumed you got about using the image?).

    The whole event was very impressive and I have to again say a big thanks on behalf of the family. You mentioned in an earlier post about the size of the Australian response and I have to say that since moving there in 2005 it is very obvious how highly regarded the Defence Force is by the population as a whole and how the concept of service is a very respected one, very different than in the UK as I remember it. I think that goes some way towards explaining it.

    More when I think about it.

    All the best,

    Steve

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    I suppose, and to put things into perspective, the only important issue here was Sgt Pilot William Smith. Of course, though, the wishes of his family are also paramount and so it may yet be possible to acede to those wishes - whatever they yet may be. However, and as things stand, control over the Spitfire wreck remains with the French and I doubt that is likely to change anytime soon.

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  • me109g4
    replied
    Well, my first reaction to the French wanting to keep the plane is,, "its not yours to begin with, so ****** off".

    But then i was never one to be tactful,,,,,

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Although there are dozens of newslinks and videos to this story, the very bottom line of this one caught my attention:

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/b...rom=public_rss

    I am not sure if this is correct in terms of what the newspaper was told by the current custodians of the aircraft, or if this explains why the aircraft wreckage has (apparently) been placed into storage at La Couploe near St Omer.

    The Smith family, after the funeral, expressed some interest in the wreckage being returned to Australia. Certainly a possibility that should be explored, and I'd be happy to help facilitate that if it was what the family wanted - although, sadly, I am by no means sure it would meet with a favourable reaction in France.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Bradleygolding, a family member, also posts here (see posts above) and it was a pleasure to meet with him (albeit very briefly!) in Cassel. I am sorry we didn't get time to chat.

    One of the most poignant scenes of the day was seeing Bradleygolding's four year old son, Leo, throw a rose into the grave of his great uncle.

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  • BlueNoser352
    replied
    Thank You for the photos of ceremony

    A note of additional thanks for taking and sharing the photos.. a fine tribute to this fallen airman !

    BlueNoser

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Thank you, Paul.

    However, when you get involved in this you just feel very humbled, as well as privileged. I think the rest of the team would endorse that sentiment.

    That said, and returning to your comment, we truly felt the gratitude of the Australian government and RAAF. The importance of the occasion to the Australian's was evident given the senior rank of attending military personnel and the fact that Australian MP's and their ambassador were in attendance. This would not have happened, sadly, if he had been a Brit.

    However, such gratitude as expressed by the Australian's is not always apparent when it comes to HMG/MOD, although even there I do sense a different and softening attitude to such things of late - but whether they would take the view that the nation owes the team a thank you, well, I'm really not so sure.

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  • Paul F
    replied
    Andy,

    Well done to all involved, one more family finally have the answers to years of uncertainty...

    ...and one more of the brave lads has belatedly been given the honour and respect he deserves.

    I can't begin to imagine how you must feel, but I sense your humility will always lead you to say you have done very little compared to the sacrifice made by those 'missing' aircrew you help to find.

    The nation owes you and your colleagues a big thank you for your ongoing efforts to help reduce the list of the "missing" one name at a time.

    Paul

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-2...france/3961694

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    In over forty years of involvement, one way or another, in the field of historic aviation this has to be the single most satisfying and rewarding project I have ever been involved in. Without any shadow of doubt.

    Despite the intermittent (and sometimes persistent!) rain, yesterday's ceremony in Cassel was utterly amazing. On every level.

    To have been one of the small team who brought this mystery to such a satisfactory conclusion feels a considrable honour, especially after having met Bert and his wonderful family - eighteen or so of whom were present from Australia. What this meant to them was evident, and was also eloquently put by Bert in his touching eulogy to his brother.

    In addition to the family, very senior officers were present from the RAAF, French Air Force and RAF as well as the Australian Ambassador and two senators - members of the Australian parliament. All spoke very positively about how important this discovery was, and what it meant to the family, RAAF and the Australian and French nations.

    I am not normally lost for words, but at the moment I am still struggling!

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  • ian_
    replied
    A very satisfactory conclusion.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Thank you for posting those images.

    We have all just returned from the most amazing, poignant and emotional day at Cassel.

    More about it later. For now, I just need to try to gather my thoughts.

    Leave a comment:

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