LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Norman John Walford SMITH

Service No: 420492
Born: North Sydney NSW, 26 January 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 November 1941
Unit: No. 276 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Portreath
Died: Aircraft Accident: (No. 276 Squadron Warwick aircraft BV353), English Channel, 17 July 1944, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Bath (Haycombe) Cemetery, Somerset
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John and Violet Jane Smith, of Northbridge, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Northbridge NSW
Remembered: Panel 130, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 17 July 1944 Warwick BV353 crashed in the English Channel approximately 20 miles south of Bolt Head when carrying out an operational day Air Sea Rescue Patrol No 2. The aircraft crashed into the sea after reporting engine trouble, and three of the crew members were killed and four were missing.

The crew members of BV353 were:

Flying Officer Harold George Benson (135497) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Sergeant Kenneth Stewart Clelland (1347887) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Sergeant William Ronald Melling (1474510) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Sergeant Ivor Edgar Smith (1404247) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Pilot Officer Norman John Walford Smith (420492) (Navigator)
Warrant Officer Sergeant Francis Warner (914896) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Harold Fenwick Whalen (658816) (RAF) (Second Pilot)

A Court of Inquiry into the accident reported: “the Pilot reported by radio that the aircraft had an oil leak in the starboard engine and asked for permission to return to base at Portreath. One minute later the Pilot asked to be vectored to Bolt Head and acknowledged the course given. Nothing further was heard from B353 and it did not return from the patrol. At approximately the same time a Liberator reported seeing an aircraft dive straight in apparently out of control and explode when it hit the sea. A High Speed Launch recovered three bodies from the sea.”

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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/38/610