Feuerheerdt, Frederick “Freddy” Matheson

Freddy was born on the 7th February 1923 in Unley, South Australia. He was at the Roseworthy Agricultural College in Adelaide when he enlisted in the RAAF on the 18th July 1942. He was then with No.30 Course, No.4 Initial Training School, RAAF, B Squadron, 14 Flight, held between July and September 1942 at Victor Harbor in South Australia. Later, he was posted from No.1 OTU and served with 457 Squadron RAAF in the Northern Territory from September 1943 to August 1944.

While Freddy was with 457 Squadron, 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 No 457 Squadron Spitfires were increasingly utilised in the ground attack role. He would have been located at Livingstone until the Squadron moved to Sattler in transferred to the newly-formed 80 Wing and moved to Sattler on the 13th May 1944. While at Livingstone, the Squadron was re-equipped with an updated version of the Spitfire, imported from Britain, which arrived in a grey and green camouflage scheme. This led to the squadron nicknaming itself the “Grey Nurse Squadron” and adorning its aircraft with a distinctive shark’s mouth on the nose.

Freddy was known to be a competent pilot and popular with the men. While he was back in South Australia after the War at No.4 Personnel Depot, Springbank, and before he was posted to Japan, his Commanding Officer, Wing Commander H.S. Preston, wrote, “A splendid type of young officer – of gentlemanly bearing, most courteous at all times and popular in the mess. For a GD Officer with no knowledge of Barracks work, he attacked his appointment as Barracks Officer and endeavoured to learn as much about it as possible during his short tour of duty here. He is conscientious and co-operative and with more experience should prove good value.” 

Freddy stayed in the RAAF for some time after the war and was discharged on the 8th April 1948. Unfortunately, he was hospitalised in Tokyo in November 1946 with acute poliomyelitis. One of his wartime pilot comrades, J. Lysle Roberts, summed it up by saying, “Freddy sadly died from polio after the war and how ironic, after retiring from flying Spitfires and then succumbing to such an insidious disease. He did not deserve that.”

The above photo was taken of Freddy when he was at Sattler Airfield in the Northern Territory in June 1944. The group photo is of 457 Squadron in 1944. From left to right:
Top row: Ian C. “Geoff” Chandler, Gilbert G. “Harpo” Marks, Christopher V. “Vince” Madigan, Ronald H. Bolton, Wilfred G. “Wally” Dial, Allen C. Beckwith, J. Lysle Roberts and Frederick M “Fred” Fuernhardt.
Middle Row: Frederick J. Inger, Kenneth D. McLeod, James H. “Jim” Greaves, Percy Colin Lambert, Bob Bawden, James E. “Jimmy” Summerton, Richard L. “Dick” Due, Trevor R. Russell, Angus A “Gus” Haynes, Alexander H. “Tex” Morton, Thomas F. “Frank” Payne, Albert L. “Smoky” Lumley.
Seated: James E. “Jim” Milne, Bob Addision, Arthur J. “Nat” Gould, Lloyd L. “Danny” Boardman, Thomas H. “Tommy” Trimble, Alfred “Alf” Glendinning, Southwood C. “South”  Creagh, Unknown, Adjutant, Alfred V. “Noel” Ede and L. Allen Leeming. 457 Squadron 1944

Phil Listemann, Steve McGregor and Lysle Roberts
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association