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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 161243
Last updated: 24 October 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX
Owner/operator:43 (China-British) Squadron Royal Air Force (43 (China-British) Sqn RAF)
Registration: PT712
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Castel Guelfo di Bologna -   Italy
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:Rimini airfield (I)
Destination airport:
On 8 February 1945 a section of four Spitfires of 43 Sqn RAF led by Flt Lt Peter John Hedderwick RAAF took off at 1430 hrs from Rimini airfield on an armed recce over the Arganda-Terraim area. Intense and accurate 88m flak was experienced. The 4 aircraft bombed an MT truck but no direct hit was obtained. They then strafed the truck and damaged it. They then strafed three MT’s, leaving one in flames and damaging the other two.

Shortly after leaving this target, Flt Lt Hedderwick told the formation over R/T to keep close as he might have to bale out. Glycol was seen escaping from his Spitfire IX PT712. Then when at about 1000 feet the aircraft was seen to turn, dive into the ground and burst into flames at 1530 hours three to four miles west of Portomaggiore according to the other pilots. The other aircraft orbited the scene but no chute was observed.

’Happy’ Hedderwick was killed. His commanding officer, Sqn Ldr A H Jupp, wrote to his family that it was thought that he became unconscious owing to the fumes from the glycol and so crashed with the aircraft.

An Italian source gives the crashplace as a place called Sterlina, near Castel Guelfo di Bologna, about 40 kilometers more south. It is confirmed by the facts that the Germans buried Hedderwick in Castel Guelfo di Bologna, where he was found by the British 17 Grave Research Unit after the war. He was reburied in the Faenza War Cemetery, Italy.

After training in Canada, Hedderwick had flown all of his operational hours with 43 Sqn - 740 hours in total, in two tours - from Dieppe in 1942 to Italy via North Africa and Southern France, and was a great loss to the squadron. Educated at Melbourne Grammar School, Hedderwick was active in all sports, particularly boxing. At the time of his enlistment he was completing his law course at Melbourne University, which he represented in boxing contests. At the time of his loss, his brother Bruce, a private of 2/21 Australian Infantry Bn, was believed to be a prisoner of the Japanese in Amboina. He died in captivity on 21 June 1945.


Casualty and repatriation report of Peter John Hedderwick, available online on the Australian Archives website (
“Osprey Aviation Elite Units 9: No 43 ’Fighting Cocks’ Squadron”, by Andy Saunders, ISBN 1-84176-439-6
The Argus, Melbourne newspapers, 17 February 1945 (available online at,%20BRUCE%20PITCAIRN

Related books:

Revision history:

05-Oct-2013 17:19 JINX Added
31-Mar-2015 18:34 Unitex Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Narrative]
06-Jun-2015 15:51 Angel dick one Updated [Operator]
08-Feb-2016 17:51 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Operator, Total fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
20-Apr-2020 20:38 Allach Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Operator]

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