21 Oct 2011

RAAF Spitfire found in France

2:52 pm on 21 October 2011

Amateur historians have unearthed the wreckage of a Royal Australian Air Force Spitfire that crashed in northern France during World War II and the remains of its pilot.

The plane, was shot down in May 1942 near the village of Hardifort. The wreckage was found beneath five metres of soil.

The fighter was in pieces but the bones of its pilot, identified by tags as W.J. Smith of the RAAF, service number 400942, were recovered.

Officials from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have taken charge of the pilot's remains for eventual burial.

The wreckage will eventually be delivered to La Coupole, a war museum that was a former rocket base in the nearby town of Saint Omer.

Hardifort mayor Jean Bogaert, 88, said he remembered seeing the plane crash.

"We saw it in the distance and there was a loud noise, a cloud of dust and that was it," he said.