James Duncan (Service No. 44358) was a Flight Sergeant with No.2 AOS (Air Observer School)
Jim was born on the 24th October 1925 in Nowra, New South Wales. He enlisted in the RAAF on the 6th November 1943 at Woolloomooloo, NSW and began his training at No.6 ITS (Initial Training School), Bradfield Park, NSW. He represented the RAAF in a swimming carnival, against Navy and Army. He then moved on to No.10 EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School), Temora, where he started flying instruction in Tiger Moths and later moved to Bundaberg, Queensland to fly Avro Ansons at the Secondary Training School.
The photo is of an Avro Anson similar to the one piloted by Jim. The bottom one is Tiger Moth A17-379 at No 10 EFTS, Temora.
He was fortunate in early 1945 to be given the opportunity to ferry one of the Ansons to Aitapie in New Guinea. Jim said, “Flying over the Owen Stanleys was one of the highlights for me”.
Early 1945, Jim was flying an Anson with five on board from Mt Gambia in Victoria. He had the wheels down as they would not retract. Flying at 700 or 800 feet near Horsham, Jim found himself in a valley with power lines ahead. He had no real time to think and thought there were only two alternatives; to go over the lines and stall, or to open the throttle full bore and go through them, which he did. Jim collected 12 out of 36 wires, which festooned his aircraft. On landing, standing on the tarmac were a welcome committee of Commanding Officer Group Captain White and Squadron Leader Basil Clifton. Their greeting was, “Consider yourself under arrest and no more flying until we investigate”. Luckily for Jim, he received a clean bill of health and was considered by the Court Martial that he was overenthusiastic. He did manage to continue flying.
He had one year flying as a staff pilot at Mt Gambia (Avro Ansons) and just as he was to move on to Air Speed Oxfords he developed a medical condition and was to spend time in Concord hospital. By the time he was coming good, the war was over and he was discharged from the service on the 12th November 1945.
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association