John, or Hogy as he was known to his friends, was born on the 11th July 1923 in Brisbane, Queensland. He enlisted on the 7th December 1941 and was discharged on the 13th November 1945. Hogy passed away in 2010.
On the 21st February 1944, Hogy’s plane was shot down over Holland and he was hidden by members of the Dutch Resistance until the end of the war. Relating to the incident, the Austrlian War memorial has a collection of memorabilia on display: Two of his original RAAF Flying Log Books, an album housed in a ring binder folder commemorating the crash he survived in 1944, and presented by the Crash Research in Aviation Society Holland during a visit there in 1995, a wallet of photographs taken in 1995 during Carmichael’s visit to the Netherlands showing some of the people who helped him during the war.
The photo is of the Circumstantial Report, which was submitted by the Commander of 453 Squadron after Hogy was shot down.
The story was also told by a journalist, Sally Nicol, for the Courier Mail in Queensland. It is reproduced in part as follows:
The Germans were quickly moving in to capture the injured Australian fighter pilot shot down over Holland. But at the last moment the Dutch underground managed to save Jack Carmichael from the enemy.
Mr. Carmichael had joined the Royal Australian Air Force on his 18th birthday and began training the day Pearl Harbour was attacked. He was assigned to the Australian Spitfire Squadron 453 and following D-Day was deployed to France for combat patrols.
“You’d go around looking for anything that moved on the roads and shoot it up,” he said.
It was there that he was lured into a German trap. He flew in to attack a truck only to find it surrounded by camouflaged anti-aircraft units.
“I could see tracers coming all around me. The only thing I could do was aim for where the fire was coming from. That’s what I did and I never got hit at all, which was a miraculous escape.”
Later as the squadron relocated back to England, the young fighter pilot was to have another lucky escape.
“The moment I crossed the white cliffs of Dover I ran out of fuel. She cut dead and down I went.” Somehow he managed to glide between the poles and barb-wire that had been set up to stop German landings.
“I put her down between the ditches where they reckoned no one could land.”
The 453 Squadron was sent in to bomb V-2 missile sites in Holland. Carrying two 250-pound bombs and a 500-pounder under the belly, the pilots would scream down from 12,000 feet to hit their target.
After a dozen successful missions, Warrant Officer Carmichael’s plane was hit.
“The whole plane started rocking and shaking and the instruments blowing up so I jumped out.” He parachuted into a canal.
“The Germans threw a cordon around and came in, but a young girl gave me an overcoat and a pushbike and we went the other way through the crowd.” Members of the Dutch underground guided him to the safety of a farm house.
Six months later, the war in Europe was over and Mr Carmichael was being sent back to Australia to fight the Japanese. But on the way home the war in the Pacific ended.
After drifting for a while, Mr Carmichael took on carpentry as a trade and for the next 10 years worked for the Housing Commission. Always plagued by a shoulder injury he sustained when he was shot down, Mr Carmichael later began driving cabs.
“The money wasn’t good then and it was long hours.” By 1968, he was once again working for the government building schools until his retirement 20 years later.
It wasn’t until his seventies that Mr Carmichael decided to marry. He and his next-door neighbour Mary were wed in December 1994. A few months later they used the 50th anniversary celebration of Holland’s liberation as an excuse for a honeymoon. There, Mr Carmichael was reunited with all the people who had helped hide him from the Germans. Time had marched on. The first family he stayed with had two little boys, one two years old and one four.
“When we were due to come back, the Captain of the 747 was that four year old boy.”
The photo is of The Honourable Mr Arthur S. Drakeford (in civilian clothes), Australian Minister for Air, speaking to the pilots of 453 Squadron in their crew room at RAF Station Coltishall, Suffolk on the 29th December 1944. Left to right: Flight Lieutenant G. Walker, Squadron Medical Officer; Mr Drakeford; Flying Officer W.H. Carter, Manly, NSW; Flight Lietenant K. Giles, Sydney, NSW, Squadron Adjutant; Flying Offiocer G. Clemsha; Flying Officer A.L. Vargas, RAF Intelligence Officer; Pilot Officer W.W. Mace; Flight Sergeant J.H. Lynch, Orange, NSW; Warrant Officer D.C. Johns, Ungarie, NSW; Pilot Officer R.A. York; Pilot Officer C.A.M. Taylor; WO J. D. Carmichael.
The following is a story from Hogy which he wrote after reading Don Smith’s Obituary in an issue of The Spitfire News (The Spitfire Association’s official journal.) He was reminded of an incident in which he was involved whilst serving as a pilot under Don Smith’s command.
“I flew with Don Smith from air strips in France on many occasions, one of them after the Allies invasion of Europe. Don was renowned for his map reading ability and amongst other things liked to bring his squadron back from wherever they had been in tight formation, on the deck and to hit the strip “spot-on.” If not for this ability, I would not be here today writing this brief story about a sortie I took part in.
I knew I was to be the No. 2 to the CO, but I had no idea where we were going or that our aircraft had 45 gallon drop tanks aboard. On the return journey, my fuel gauge was showing zero just before landing. It was my intention, if my motor had cut out, to do a wheels up belly landing on the nearest French field. If I had done so, my ignorance of having a Drop tank attached underneath would have been disastrous for me as the 45 gallons of high octane fuel underneath would have spelt curtains for me.
When I did land, I asked the Erks to check the main fuel tank and they then advised me that the tank was bone dry, but why didn’t I use the spare fuel.
The photo of the Supermarine Spitfire Mark IXs of No. 453 Squadron was taken when they were starting up at Ford, Sussex for a sortie over Normandy. Both aircraft are carrying 44-gallon long-range fuel tanks under the fuselage to extend the their range over the continent.
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association