Keith Truscott

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Keith William Truscott
Awm 044827 ( truscott 1941).jpg
Truscott c. 1941
Nickname(s) "Bluey"
Born 17 May 1916
Prahran, Victoria
Died 28 March 1943(1943-03-28) (aged 26)
Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch  Royal Australian Air Force
Years of service 1940–43
Rank Squadron Leader
Unit No. 452 Squadron (1941–42)
Commands held No. 76 Squadron (1942–43)

Second World War

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. After joining the Royal Australian Air Force in 1940, he became the second highest Australian World War II ace credited with 20 confirmed victories and 5 unconfirmed victories.[1] After completing flying training in Canada, Truscott served in Britain flying Spitfire fighters. He returned to Australia in early 1942 and served in New Guinea, where he fought during the climactic Battle of Milne Bay. He was killed in a flying accident off the coast of Western Australia in March 1943, at the age of 26.

Early life and sporting career[edit]

The Melbourne High School cricket team. Miller is standing at right. Truscott is seated with shield.

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.[1]

Truscott played 44 games (and kicked 31 goals) of VFL football as a half-forward flanker from 1937 to 1940, playing in Melbourne's 1939 and 1940 premiership victories, taking leave from military duties to play in the September 1940 final. He made a final appearance for them in mid-1942, after his return from service in Europe and before deploying to New Guinea.[2]

War service[edit]

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."[2] Nevertheless, Truscott completed flight training in Canada and joined No. 452 Squadron RAAF, flying Spitfires in England on 5 May 1941.[1] He destroyed at least 16 Luftwaffe aircraft, was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and was made a flight commander.[1]

Truscott, commanding No. 76 Squadron RAAF, taxis along Marston mat at Milne Bay, New Guinea in September 1942.

Truscott was later made acting squadron leader and in 1942, was posted back to Australia where he joined 76 Squadron, flying Kittyhawks.[1] By this stage Truscott was, along with Clive Caldwell, one of the most famous RAAF pilots. While in England, his fame was such that he was used as fundraising icon, with the Marquess of Donegall exhorting his countrymen with red hair to donate money to buy a Spitfire in which Truscott, who was nicknamed "Bluey" because of his red hair, would fly.[3][2]

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.[1] 76 Squadron was later transferred to Darwin, Northern Territory and then Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. Truscott was killed in an accident in Exmouth Gulf on 28 March 1943.[4] 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.[4][5]


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.[6] The Melbourne Football Club's award for the best and fairest player was also named in his honour: the "Bluey" Truscott Memorial Trophy.[7]

Honours and awards[edit]

UK DFC w bar BAR.svg 39-45StarRibbon.jpg ACEStarRibbon.png
PacificStarRibbon.png DefenceMedal-Ribbon.png War Medal 1939–1945 (UK) ribbon.png Australian Service Medal 1939-45 ribbon.png

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Dennis et al (2008), p. 535.
  2. ^ a b c Stephens 2002.
  3. ^ Shores and Williams 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Dennis et al (2008), p. 536.
  5. ^ "Truscott's funeral". The Daily News (Perth, WA: 1882–1950). 5 April 1943. 
  6. ^ "Truscott Airfield". Pacific Wrecks. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Squadron Leader Keith William Truscott, DFC (and Bar) (1916–1943)". Fifty Australians. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 


  • Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey; Morris, Ewan; Prior, Robin; Bou, Jean (2008). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-551784-2. 
  • Shores, Christopher; Williams, Clive (2008). Aces High: A Tribute to the Most Notable Fighter Pilots of the British and Commonwealth Forces of WWII, Volume One. Grubb Street Publisher. ISBN 9781909808423. 
  • Stephens, Alan (2002). "Truscott, Keith William (Bluey) (1916–1943)". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. Vol. 16. Melbourne University Press. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Main, J.; Allen, D. (2002). "Truscott, Keith DFC and Bar". In Main, J.; Allen, D. Fallen – The Ultimate Heroes: Footballers Who Never Returned From War. Melbourne: Crown Content. pp. 342–348. ISBN 1-74095-010-0. 
  • Richmond, Keith. "The Concept of Courage and Elite Fighter Pilots". Sabretache. Vol.48 (No.4, (December 2007)): pp.27–41. 
  • Southall, I. (1958). Bluey Truscott: Squadron Leader Keith William Truscott, R.A.A.F., D.F.C. and Bar. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. 

External links[edit]