Lumley, Albert “Smokey” Laurence

Albert, or “Smokey” as he was known to his mates, was born on the 13th October 1916 in Leichhardt, New South Wales. He enlisted in the RAAF in Sydney on the 24th May 1941 and started his initial training at No.10 EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) Temora in NSW, where he learnt to fly the DH82, the famous Tiger Moth.

After completing his initial training, he embarked for Canada on the 13th November 1941. There, he flew Yales and Harvards at No.1 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) and then continued onto England, where he learnt to fly Spitfires at 58 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Grangemouth. In October 1942, Smokey was posted to 131 Squadron RAF. 

131 Squadron was a Spitfire fighter squadron based in southern England, and the photo below is of some of its Spitfires at that time. The Squadron carried out offensive sweeps across France before defensive duties resumed in January 1943 when the Squadron moved to northern Scotland to provide fighter cover for the vital naval base at Scapa Flow. During this period the Squadron also carried deck landing training on the carrier HMS Argus, which was based in the Clyde and used as a training carrier by the Fleet Air Arm. It was there that Smokey flew the Seafire. (Web Master: The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire adapted for operations from aircraft carriers. The name Seafire was arrived at by abbreviating the longer name Sea Spitfire.) Lumley Albert Laurence Pic 3

131 Squadron’s training was in preparation for possible amphibious operations, but these never actually took place. In June, the Squadron moved to south-west England, where it resumed its offensive sweeps, this time over north-western France. The Squadron also provided fighter cover over convoys around the coast of the south-west.

Smokey was with the Squadron during this period and was then repatriated back to Australia at the end of 1943. On arrival, he was posted to OTU Mildura and then to 457 Squadron in Darwin for a second tour with 457.

This was in about May 1944, and the Squadron was still flying the Mark Vc and was part of 1 Fighter Wing defending Darwin against the Japanese. By the end of May, the air defence of Darwin was handed over to several RAF squadrons, and 452 and 457 Squadrons were transferred to the newly formed 80 Wing RAAF and moved from Livingstone to the southern end of Sattler. On several occasions, aircraft were detached to Milingimbi, Drysdale, Perth and Exmouth. The Wing had been established to support a planned offensive from Darwin into the Netherlands East Indies. However, the offensive had been cancelled in June, but this had not been communicated to the Wing, which continued to train for the operation until August. After the operation was cancelled, the Wing had no purpose, but continued to conduct training exercises as a means of maintaining morale. Lumley Albert Laurence Pic 2

In July, 457 Squadron converted to Mark VIII Spitfires and started strafing and dive bombing in preparation for its move to Morotai. This came in December 1944. At the same time, Smokey was seconded to 452 Squadron and under the command of Clive Caldwell left for Merauke. The photo is of the Squadron just prior to leaving. From left to right, the first four pilots are Alan Leeming, Lyndon Compton, Smokey Lumley and Clive Caldwell. All except Clive had been seconded from 457 Squadron.

On arrival at Merauke, trouble started. John Sturm, because of engine problems, landed first but did not manage to get off the strip. Smokey, landing second, saw the problem and tried to avoid him, but clipped his wing on passing and turned him at right angles to the strip. Smokey’s under-carriage collapsed, but he was unhurt. Bill Crystal, then arrived next. Landing at speed because he had no flaps, he also hit Sturm. Unfortunately, Sturm’s plane then burst into flames and he was killed. Three Spitfires were written off. It was not a good start.

There was another incident on the 13th January 1945. At 0150 hrs, Smokey led Flying Officxer Logan and Flying Officer Stagg for a standing patrol over Morotai. During the take off, Smokey was distracted by a bright flash of light on the starboard side of the strip and thought it was a vehicle on the edge, so swung to port and crashed. He returned to Australia a week  after this unfortunate accident. 

Lumley Albert Laurence Pic 4

The 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” ww Creagh, Unknown, Adjutant, Alfred V. “Noel” Ede and L. Allen Leeming.

Smokey was discharged on the 6th May 1946.

Steve McGregor
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association