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|Wednesday 7 March 2012|
Recently, the remains of lost World War II pilot (and former MHS old boy) William James Smith have been found in northern France and positively identified. His plane was discovered buried in a farmer’s field having hit the ground nose-first, destroying the plane completely. Smith was left undiscovered for almost 70 years.
Sergeant W.J. Smith was last seen on 9 May 1942 when he was engaged in a dog fight over the English Channel. His spitfire was discovered by a documentary crew filming near Hardifort in northern France. At the time of his disappearance, Smith was escorting a bomber raid on the German occupied Belgium town of Bruges. Suddenly 190 German fighters attacked the allied planes, including the Spitfire Sergeant Smith was in. He was part of 457 Squadron.
William James Smith was born in 1917 to Whittlesea couple Samuel and Freda Smith. He attended Melbourne High school from 1931 to 1934 and was in Forrest house. In 1934, Smith received school colours in football as well as obtaining his Leaving Certificate with Honours.
Sergeant Smith’s disappearance was recorded on a panel as part of the Runnymede Memorial in England. He was remembered but now his remains will be buried with full military honour. His remains will be interred at the Arneke Commonwealth War Cemetery in France, in April.