Walter, or Wal as he was known to his mates, was born on the 12th August 1924 at Leongatha in South Australia. He enlisted on the 1st January 1943, and after training, flew Spitfires with 457 Squadron.
457 Squadron was formed in England in 1941, but by the time Wal joined, it had been withdrawn from Europe and had sailed for Australia in June 1942. After arriving in Australia, 457 Squadron deployed to Livingstone in January 1943 to provide air defence for Darwin. For the remainder of 1943, the Spitfires were engaged in constant combat with enemy aircraft, taking a heavy toll of Japanese aircraft.
By early 1944, with little enemy air activity over Darwin, several Spitfires staging through Bathurst Island strafed barges, huts and a wireless station on Baba Island. This mission was the Squadron’s first ground attack operation, and from this point onwards 457 Squadron Spitfires were increasingly utilised in the ground attack role.
457 Squadron moved north to Morotai in early 1945, and from here, supported the invasion of Labuan. Shortly after the Japanese surrender in August, 457 Squadron was disbanded.
Wal was discharged on the 26th October 1945 from an Advanced Flying and Refresher Unit.
Phil Listemann and David Hamilton
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association