Stuart Crosby WALCH

Poppy

WALCH, Stuart Crosby

Service Number: 40063
Enlisted: 15 July 1936, Enlisted at Point Cook, Victoria, Australia
Last Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Last Unit: No. 238 Squadron (RAF)
Born: Hobart, Tasmania, 16 February 1917
Home Town: Hobart, Tasmania
Schooling: Hutchins School, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Flying Battle, Portland, United Kingdom, 11 August 1940, aged 23 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Runnymede Air Forces Memorial
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World War 2 Service

15 Jul 1936: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 40063, Enlisted at Point Cook, Victoria, Australia
11 Aug 1940: Involvement Royal Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 40063, No. 238 Squadron (RAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Stuart Crosby WALCH, Flight Lieutenant, RAF Battle of Britain pilot (1917-1940)

Stuart Crosby Walch was born in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on 16th February 1917. He was the son of Percival Bell Crosby Walch and Florence Hester Jane Walch of Hobart, Tasmania. His father was the Managing Director of the well-known Tasmanian family business, J. Walch and Sons, in Macquarie Street, Hobart.

Stuart was educated at The Hutchins School where he committed himself to sport and was considered prominent in football and cricket and was later remembered as one of the best footballers and oarsmen.  Stuart rowed in two school crews and on 28 April 1934 was a member of the winning Head of the River Crew.

Stuart left school at the end of the 1934 academic year to join his family’s company as a clerk. He spent some time in the militia but wanted to fly and so he applied for a cadetship with the RAAF. Along with Jack Kennedy he joined 1 Flying Training School’s 20 Course. Jack Kennedy (another Australian commemorated on this site) was one of his course mates. Stuart went solo after flying 11 hours 5 minutes dual and after his solo was assessed as ‘satisfactory apart from a tending to overshoot and to do “wheel” landings’. He improved and graduated 14th in his class with 71.74%.

He sailed to England in July 1937 to take up a short service commission in the RAF, 'signing up' on the 26th August 1937.  After completing advanced flying training, he was posted on 8 January 1938 to 151 Squadron. The squadron converted to Hurricanes in December that year. Stuart was promoted to Flying Officer on 26 March 1939 and, by the outbreak of war, he was Sub Flight Leader of A Flight. On 15 May 1940 he and Jack Kennedy were posted to 238 Squadron as flight commanders. He was promoted to acting Flight Lieutenant the next day.

On 11 July 1940, the Luftwaffe sent a large formation from the Cherbourg Peninsular towards Portland. Stuart was one of six aircraft from 238 Squadron, along with three from another squadron, ordered to intercept. At noon, Stuart and his section fired on a Messerschmitt Bf110 south of Portland. Smoke began to pour from its engine before it burst into flames. They were credited with 238 Squadron’s first confirmed ‘kill’.

It was a busy time and over the next few days Stuart flew a number of sorties. He followed his 11 July success with an unconfirmed third share in a downed Bf110 on 13 July, the same day Jack Kennedy died, attemptiong to force-land. On 20 July, he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf109 and was credited with a half share in its destruction. The next day he destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf110 and damaged another 110. On 26 July, he destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf109. Stuart continued to fly sorties over the next few days, but this was his last victory.

Shortly after 10 am on 11 August, 238 Squadron left to patrol Portland. They met a large enemy force and about five miles south of Swanage.  The entire Blue section, led by Stuart was lost. Stuart, aged 23-years-old, was the third Australian to die in the Battle of Britain.

Stuart Crosby Walch's body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Battle of Britain Honour Roll in Westminster Abbey and the Battle of Britain London Monument, on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 5, and the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour.

 

Compiled by Steve Larkins August 2020

Thanks to the following Sources:

Battle of Britain London Monument (www.bbm.org.uk)

Tasmanian Government Centenary of ANZAC  (www.centenaryofanzac.tas.gov.au)

Kristen Alexander blogspot http://australiansinthebattleofbritain.blogspot.com/2012/08/stuart-crosby-walch.html (australiansinthebattleofbritain.blogspot.com)

 

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