The wreck of Royal Australian Air Force Spitfire A58-2 that crashed in the Top End during World War II has today been gifted to the Northern Territory Government for preservation.
A symbol of the vital role the Territory played in the protection of Australia, the wreck was spotted in Litchfield National Park in March 2016, 73 years after it crashed in remote bushland on 30 June 1943. The pilot, Flight Sergeant Colin Duncan, survived the crash after bailing out.
The handover coincides with the 76th anniversary of the last Japanese raid over the Top End in 1943 and the premiere of A Fiery Exit, a short film commissioned by the Territory Government about the crash, based on a first-hand account by Flight Sergeant Duncan.
As stated by Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss:
“The handover is an important milestone in preserving the Territory’s heritage.
Wartime bombing and cyclones have destroyed many of the Top End’s historic sites and buildings, and the unexpected discovery of Royal Australian Air Force Spitfire A58-2 helps maintain our connection to what was a tumultuous time for this region.
“The Top End was Australia’s frontline during the war and suffered severe damage during almost 18 months of air attacks. This is something of an unknown history for many Australians, and the Territory Labor Government is proud to be able to preserve this wreck so future generations can maintain a connection with our past.”
As stated by the Duncan family:
“Today the Duncan family is very proud to be represented by Colin’s grandson Duncan Williams. Colin was a proud Australian and was also proud to have been a member of 452 Squadron, flying with a group of very fine young men who will always be remembered for their efforts defending our country.” – Dawn Duncan (Colin Duncan’s widow)
“We are very proud of the role my grandfather played during these challenging times for the country, Territory and world at-large. The story of his bailout is an exceptional one of bravery, luck and persistence under extremely challenging circumstances. Our family is shaped by who he was and, while this episode by no means defined him, it was a big part of the vibrant tapestry of his life and perhaps inspired him to reach greater heights. It is a joy that he is remembered long after he is gone, and we are truly happy the wreck was found and that it – and his story – may continue to have some influence in times to come in the hands of the NT Government via the RAAF’s generosity.” – Duncan Williams (Colin Duncan’s grandson)
Dropbox link to short film: A Fiery Exit