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|Keith William Truscott|
Keith Truscott c. 1941
|Born||17 May 1916
|Died||28 March 1943
Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia
|Service/branch||Royal Australian Air Force|
|Years of service||1940–1943|
|Unit||No. 452 Squadron (1941–42)|
|Commands held||No. 76 Squadron (1942–43)|
|Awards||Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches
Keith William "Bluey" Truscott DFC & Bar (17 May 1916 – 28 March 1943) was a World War II ace fighter pilot and Australian rules footballer with the Melbourne Football Club. He was the second highest Australian World War II ace credited with 20 confirmed victories and .5 unconfirmed victories.
Early life and sporting career
Truscott was born in Prahran, Victoria, on 17 May 1916, to William Truscott and Maude Truscott (née Powell). He attended Melbourne High School, where he captained the First XI for the school in cricket. While there, he mentored the young Keith Miller, who entered the First XI at the age of 14 and went on to be regarded as Australia's finest all round cricketer. After completing his schooling Truscott worked as a school teacher and clerk.
Truscott joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in July 1940, a move that attracted much publicity. He almost failed pilot training; among other problems it was ascertained that he had a poor ability to judge heights. In the words of the Australian Dictionary of Biography: "[Truscott] never fully came to terms with landing and persistently levelled out about 20 ft (6 m) too high." Nevertheless, Truscott completed flight training in Canada and joined No. 452 Squadron RAAF, flying Spitfires in England on 5 May 1941. He destroyed at least 16 Luftwaffe aircraft, was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and was made a flight commander.
Truscott was later made acting squadron leader and in 1942, Truscott was posted back to Australia where he joined 76 Squadron, flying Kittyhawks. By this stage Truscott was, along with Clive Caldwell, one of the most famous RAAF pilots.
Truscott's squadron was posted to Gurney Field in Milne Bay, Papua and played a significant role in the Battle of Milne Bay where he was mentioned in dispatches for his actions. 76 Squadron was later transferred to Darwin, Northern Territory, for a time, and then Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. Truscott was killed in an accident in Exmouth Gulf on 28 March 1943. His Kittyhawk hit the sea at high speed, after he made a mock diving attack against a low-flying Catalina. The surface of the sea was unusually smooth that day, and it is believed that Truscott misjudged its proximity. His body was recovered and he was buried at Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth.
Truscott's life and service was honoured in a number of ways. The RAAF later named a base on the northern coast of the Kimberley region as Truscott Airfield. The Melbourne Football Club's award for the Best and Fairest player was also named in his honour: the "Bluey" Truscott Memorial Trophy.
At Melbourne High School, a scholarship is awarded in his name to a student displaying all-round achievement in academic, sporting and extra-curricular activities. For reasons unknown it was discontinued, apparently in 1948. In 1994, an Old Boy, Dr John Miller AO, winner of the 1946/47 Bluey Truscott Scholarship, Principal Ray Willis and the MHSOBA re-established the Bluey Truscott Scholarship. Dr John Miller provided the Bluey Truscott bronze plaque (hanging in the school foyer) and the "John Miller Distinguished Achievement Medal" to be awarded to all subsequent MHSOBA Bluey Truscott winners.
Honours and awards
- Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar (DFC*) – awarded 17 October 1941 and 27 March 1942
- 1939-1945 Star
- Air Crew Europe Star
- Pacific Star
- Defence Medal
- War Medal 1939–1945 (With Oakleaf, Mention in Despatches published in London Gazette 26 March 1943)
- Australia Service Medal 1939-45
- Mentioned in Despatches
- List of World War II aces from Australia
- List of Victorian Football League players who died in active service
- Dennis et al (2008), p. 535.
- Truscott, Keith William (Bluey) (1916–1943) Biographical Entry – Australian Dictionary of Biography Online at www.adb.online.anu.edu.au
- Dennis et al (2008), p. 536.
- "Truscott's funeral". The Daily News (Perth, WA: 1882–1950). 5 April 1943.
- "Truscott Airfield". Pacific Wrecks. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Dennis, Peter; et al (2008). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-551784-2.
- Main, J. & Allen, D., "Truscott, Keith DFC and Bar", pp. 342–348 in Main, J. & Allen, D., Fallen — The Ultimate Heroes: Footballers Who Never Returned From War, Crown Content, (Melbourne), 2002. ISBN 1-74095-010-0
- Southall, I., Bluey Truscott: Squadron Leader Keith William Truscott, R.A.A.F., D.F.C. and Bar, Angus and Robertson, (Sydney), 1958.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Keith Truscott.|
- Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour: Keith William Truscott DFC & BAR (400213)
- AFL Statistics: Keith Truscott
- Stephens, "Truscott, Keith William (Bluey) (1916–1943)", Australian Dictionary of Biography
- Bio at Australian War Memorial
- Details of his aircraft
- National Archives of Australia Casualty report file
- National Archives of Australia Service Record – Keith William Truscott, Service Number 400213