Statement from the family of World War Two RAAF pilot
19 April 2012
The following statement has been released by Mr Bert Smith, the younger brother of Sergeant William James Smith.
My older brother, 24-year-old Sergeant Bill Smith, was lost on operations on 9 May 1942 while escorting a bombing mission over enemy occupied territory.
Bill was last seen by his squadron near the coast ofFranceengaged in a dogfight with an enemy aircraft at 20,000 feet over theEnglish Channel. The Spitfire aircraft and Bill’s remains were found in Hardifort inNorthern Francein October 2011. He was buried with full military honours today at Cassel War Grave Cemetery, France.
As the last surviving member of Bill’s immediate family; I was 15-years-old when he was killed. I have fond memories of my dashing, handsome older brother in whose footsteps I have tried so hard to follow.
I remember him as a very smart dresser, having up to four suits, which, when I grew up a bit, I wore with great pride. Bill was very close to me and my three sisters, and devoted to our mother and father.
I wish to thank the French Government for the care and consideration they have shown since Bill was found.
To the Royal Australian Air Force, my sincere thanks for the effort they have taken to honour Bill as one of their own, and to treat me with such dignity.
Media note: The reinterment service will take place at 11.30am Central European Summer Time today, which is 7.30pm Australian Eastern Standard Time tonight.
Leigh Harris, Royal Australian Air Force, 0439 302 195
FLTLT Sean Watson (in France), +61 457 911 001