Honours for Spitfire pilot found in river
THE World War II Australian Spitfire pilot whose body was found in the wreckage of his aircraft in France last November will be buried with full military honours in April. Flight Lieutenant Henry Lacy Smith, 27, was shot down by anti-aircraft fire on June 11, 1944. He tried to crash land in a field but ended up ditching his plane in the River Orne, landing upside down and drowning while strapped in the cockpit. Almost 67 years later Lieutenant Smith will be buried at the war cemetery at Ranville, the first French village to be liberated after the Normandy landings. His nephew Dennis Dostine, 78, from Sylvania, has accepted an invitation from the Royal Australian Air Force to attend the interment ceremony with other members of his family.
Sydney aircraft enthusiast Ray Treasure phoned Mr Dostine last November with news that the plane had been found. Mr Dostine told The Sun-Herald: "It was out of the blue. I was absolutely astonished and quite emotional." The aircraft and pilot's remains were discovered when a French couple saw part of the plane poking above the water at low tide. The full ceremonial salute will include the presentation posthumously of five service medals to Lieutenant Smith. Senior RAAF officers and representatives of the French Air Force will attend the service. Discussion is under way about bringing the Spitfire to Australia, even though the plane was owned by the Royal Air Force. The aircraft, still with cockpit dials intact, will most likely go on display at the Point Cook RAAF Museum near Melbourne.