Eric was born on the 26th September 1916 in Armidale, New South Wales and he enlisted in the RAAF on the 3rd February 1941.
After training, Eric was posted to 452 Squadron. We do not know if Eric was with the Squadron while it was in England, but he was obviously with it after it was recalled from England in June 1942. The Squadron was then re-equipped with Spitfires and deployed to Batchelor Airfield in the Northern Territory in early 1943. There it was to be part of No.1 Wing RAAF which had just been formed to defend Darwin against the Japanese. The Squadron had only just become operational again on the 17th of January 1943 when Eric was killed in a flying accident on the 27th January.
ADF Serials contain the following report on Eric’s F.VC Spitfire, RAAF Serial No. A58-73: Mid-air collision 1800 hrs on the 27th January 1943 over Coomalie Creek with another Spitfire, RAAF Serial No.A58-55, during practice section attacks on USAAF B-24s at an altitude of 2,000 to 3,000 feet. Yellow 2 (Eric) collided with the port main plane of Yellow 4 and Eric’s tail was broken off. Eric’s Spitfire was last seen spiralling inverted and tailless to the ground from 1,500 feet. Sergeant Eric Ebsworth Hutchinson was killed.Yellow 4 made an emergency forced landing at Batchelor at 1820 hrs and the pilot, Sergeant H.W. Stockley was not injured. A land party reached the crash site at 1200 hrs on the 28th January 1943, some 15 miles away. Eric was buried at 1500 hrs on the 29th January 1943 in Grave RC12 at Adelaide River.
The other document of three pages is a copy of the official RAAF report on the accident. (Web Master: Note that the initial deliveries of the Spitfires were referred to as Capstans. At the time, it was a well-known cigarette name and was selected as a security measure to to hide the fact (from the Japanese) that the Spitfires were actually here in Australia.)
Eric lies in the Adelaide River War Cemetery in the Northern Territory. His headstone has the following inscription: “Pat the beloved…He died for victory in War and in Peace.” The photo shows some of the old Spitfire pilots looking for their mates.
David Hamilton and Ron Rigg
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association