GALE Walter William 406243

LEST WE FORGET

Squadron Leader Walter William Beresford GALE

Commanding Officer, No. 451 Squadron

Service No: 406243
Born: Geraldton WA, 14 July 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 7 October 1940
Unit: No. 451 Squadron, Corsica
Died: Air Operations: (No. 451 Squadron Spitfire aircraft MK267), Italy, 17 July 1944, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Florence War Cemetery, Italy
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Edwin and Alice Elizabeth Gale, of West Perth, Western Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

A severe loss was felt on 17th July when Squadron Leader Gale, who had taken over command of the unit only a week before, was shot down by ground fire while engaged on a special reconnaissance of the 24 bridges over the River Arno between Florence and Empoli.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 256

Two aircraft were covering the Napoli-Pisa area and two the Florence-Pisa area independently. Squadron Leader Gale was presumably hit by anti-aircraft fire. The incident occurred at 0635 hours.  Spitfire MK267 was seen from 2,000 feet by his No 2 Flight Sergeant Godfrey Massey Ball (404227) about 300 feet above the ground and pouring white smoke. Flight Sergeant Ball then lost sight of the aircraft momentarily while he was doing a tight turn. A few seconds after Ball saw fire on the ground, which he considered almost certainly to be an aircraft burning. Ball circled taking camera gun shots for about 8 seconds. These however were not successful. Ball was then forced to withdraw as the anti-aircraft fire was intense and accurate.

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/15/281