Chrystal, William J.H.

William was born on the 13th October 1920 in Wellington in New South Wales.

William’s first tour of operations was in the UK with 79 Squadron in January 1942. He was then posted to 245 Squadron between February 1942 and December 1943. Later on, he was posted from No. 2 Officers Training Unit (OTU) for a second tour of operations with 452 Squadron in December 1944. One week later on the 17th December 1944, he was seriously injured in a flying accident and repatriated to Australia in January 1945, where he was no longer allowed to fly.

The group photo was taken at Heston, near Heathrow, England on the 17th September 1941. It is of the No. 61 OTU RAF, Course No. 5. The Australian pilots present were part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, Ninth Course. Left to right: Front row: Pilot Officer (PO) Hall, PO McCulloch, PO Davies, Flying Officer (FO) Gray, PO Hone, FO Watkinson, PO Lintott, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Sherrington, Flt Lt Walker, Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Malan DSO DFC, Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Bateman, Flt Lt Kingcome DFC, FO Fokes DFM, Flt Lt Bisdee DFC, Flt Lt Yule, Flt Lt Holland DFC, Sqn Ldr Dawson, PO Lewis, PO Glendinning; Middle row: PO John Gorton (later Prime Minister of Australia), Sergeant (Sgt) Twine, Sgt Godfrey Ball, Sgt Bray, Sgt Sykes, Sgt McLure, Sgt MacDiarmid, Sgt Campbell, Sgt Bubb, Sgt Crawford, Sgt Fairbairn, Sgt Williams, Sgt Irwin, Sgt Kennedy, Sgt Chrystal, Sgt Johnson, Sgt McLean, Sgt Barklay, Sgt Bassett, PO Neill; Back row: Sgt Lloyd, Sgt MacDonald, Sgt Harttung, Sgt Mahady, Sgt Long, Sgt Bridle, Sgt Hutton, Sgt Beckley, Sgt Brown, Sgt Mitchell, Sgt Baker, Sgt Mawer, Sgt Munro, Sgt Neill, Sgt Caldwell, Sgt Schaffer, Sgt Coutie, Sgt Bennett, Sgt McRae and Sgt Mahar. Chrystal W.J. Pic 1

According to an Aircraft Report, William was involved in a serious accident at Merauke (Irian Jaya) during the war:
“In Spitfire A58-525, Pilot Officer Chrystal was the next to land, but had to do so without flaps, which had failed. He collided with Flight Lieutenant Sturm’s aircraft at relatively high speed because he was unable to avoid it. He subsequently crashed and was severely injured. Unfortunately, Flight Lieutenant J.R. “Johnnie” Sturm was killed.”

Phil Listemann
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association