Flt Lt William Torrens Hinds

Introduction

On the 17th February 1943, Flying Officer William Torrens Hinds, a cousin of the direct descendants of Harry Watson, who settled Gregory Downs, in the Gulf of North Queensland, was posted to Darwin with 54 squadron of the RAF flying Spitfires out of Parap airfield defending Darwin against Japanese attacks.

On the 7th September 1943 the pilots saw 21 enemy aircraft 16 miles west of Sattler and at a higher altitude. The enemy fighters attacked before these Spitfires could gain a height advantage. In the affray which followed one enemy fighter was destroyed and two probably destroyed. A Spitfire pilot, Flying Officer William Hinds, was shot down and killed.

This is the story of William Hinds and his part in Darwin’s Air War.

In Short

William Torrens Hinds was posted to Darwin with 54 squadron of the RAF (English) in February 1943 flying Spitfires out of Parap airfield defending Darwin against Japanese attacks. He was shot down and killed, aged 21, at Pioneer Creek near Darwin on the 7th September 1943 and is buried in the Adelaide River War Cemetery.

On the 6th July 1943, prior to interception of an enemy formation of around 27 bombers and 23 fighters that were to attack the US Liberator base at Fenton, Hinds aircraft engine overheated due to an oil pressure drop and glycol leak, forcing him to land on the beach near Port Patterson. He was un-injured but the aircraft was so severely damaged that it was only useful for it’s component parts. (Spitfire A58-31 BR495). 

The raid on the 6th July 1943 was the last in strength over the Darwin area. Three raids in August were all at night and resulted in no casualties or damage. The Japanese were not intercepted on any of these raids but four Japanese reconnaissance aircraft were destroyed in mid August. 

On 7th September the Japanese sent a twin engine aircraft heavily escorted by fighters. The first warning of this reconnaissance in force came at 8.30 am when the enemy planes were 180 miles from Darwin. Twelve aircraft of No 457 were ordered to go to exit points to intercept them. Radar operators thought at first that only one aircraft was coming, but soon it was clear that many were on their way, and a total of 48 Spitfires took to the air. While the Spitfires of Nos 54 and 452 were near Port Patterson the pilots saw 21 enemy aircraft 16 miles west of Sattler and at a higher altitude. The enemy fighters attacked before these Spitfires could gain a height advantage. In the affray which followed one enemy fighter was destroyed and two probably destroyed . A Spitfire pilot, Flying Officer Hinds, was shot down and killed, while two others,Squadron Leader MacDonald, commander of No 452, and Pilot Officer Tully 7 were shot down but escaped by parachute . A cannon shell from a Japanese fighter exploded in the cockpit of MacDonald’s machine and he suffered serious burns before baling out. He was found later and returned to the RAAF Medical Receiving Station in a Tiger Moth aircraft flown by Squadron Leader Fenton. Immediately after this clash, No. 457, which had been airborne earlier and had a height advantage, carried out a successful attack on the enemy aircraft, shooting down four Zekes (Zeros) and damaging others. All Spitfires from this squadron returned undamaged to base. 

Flying Officer Hinds aircraft crashed about 20 miles SSE of Darwin (Parap) and 15 miles west of the Strauss airfield in the vicinity of Pioneer Creek. The crash started a bush fire and his body was not retrieved for a few days. The wreckage of his aircraft  (A58-153 EF558) remains in the Army range area at Kangaroo Flats near Pioneer Creek.

Link to Bio below:-

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByLxRN3MqUnlUWtNYWNMekxBTEk/view?usp=sharing

 For more details and back stories see the Menus above.

A more comprehensive account is at “William Hinds Spitfire Pilot”

Photo supplied by Paul Brooker of Smarden, Kent, UK.

Link to PDF version of the more detailed account 

https://www.ozatwar.com/raf/spitfireoverdarwin.pdf

One thought on “Flt Lt William Torrens Hinds

  1. A lot of brave young men from all sections of the British Empire turned out in order to defeat Imperial Japan. No one who has ever attended a Remembrance Day Ceremony at Kranji War Memorial in Singapore could fail to be impressed by how many young Australians gave their lives to defend those who could not defend themselves. It was a gallant effort against a cruel and heartless enemy and, while it was eventually blessed with complete success, the cost in blood was tremendous. The victory over that particularly pernicious brand of evil was worth the incredible price paid for it, but pray God we never have to do such a thing again.

    Freedom isn’t free.

    Liked by 1 person

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