Squadron Leader McCORMACK, DAVID WILLIAM (1917-1944)

Discussion in 'Biographies' started by spidge, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    This one is closer to home for me. He was educated at St Coleman's School, Fitzroy, which is my older Brothers school and Christian Brothers' College, (Parade) East Melbourne where I went in the early 60's.

    McCORMACK, DAVID WILLIAM (1917-1944), air force officer, was born on 27 November 1917 at Footscray, Melbourne, third child of David McCormack, a Victorian-born fitter, and his wife Maria Josephine, née Kennedy, who came from Ireland. Educated at St Coleman's School, Fitzroy, and Christian Brothers' College, (Parade) East Melbourne, young David worked as a clerk, as a salesman, and as an electrical mechanic with the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. On 21 July 1940 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force under the Empire Air Training Scheme. He was 5 ft 9 ins (175 cm) tall, with brown eyes and dark hair that reflected his Irish descent.
    Selected as a trainee pilot, McCormack attended No.4 Elementary Flying Training School, Mascot, Sydney (August-October 1940), and No.1 Service Flying Training School, Camp Borden, Canada (November 1940-February 1941). He was commissioned in February 1941. Arriving in Britain in the following month, he completed the course at No.55 Operational Training Unit. On 26 May he was posted to No.615 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was then equipped with the Hurricane IIa; in November he was promoted flight lieutenant. Fighter Command was on the offensive in 1941. McCormack took part in hazardous, low-level attacks in Belgium and northern France, and against enemy shipping in the North Sea. In February 1942 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross: the citation noted his 'determination in the face of enemy fire' and the 'inspiring' example he set for others.
    In March McCormack embarked with his squadron for India and the war against Japan. Based in Bengal, the unit adapted rapidly to new conditions of air fighting. By November McCormack was in action in the Arakan region of Burma, carrying out long-distance sorties over inhospitable terrain. For his bravery he was awarded a Bar to his D.F.C. (June 1943) and mentioned in dispatches (1945). Having been detached to training duties in April 1943, he took command of No.615 Squadron in February 1944 and was promoted squadron leader on 1 July.
    The unit had converted to Spitfires which it used mainly in a ground-attack role during the second battle of the Arakan (from February 1944) and the Japanese siege of Imphal, Manipur (March-June). On 29 May McCormack clearly demonstrated his skill as a pilot. In an engagement with enemy fighters his Spitfire's engine developed a glycol leak. With his windscreen obscured by oil and his engine barely functioning, he navigated over mountains and made a forced landing on a waterlogged airstrip.
    On 10 August 1944 McCormack led sixteen Spitfires on a flight from Palel, Imphal, to the squadron's new base at Biagachi, near Calcutta. En route they encountered the most violent type of monsoonal storm; his aircraft was one of eight that crashed, and he was killed; his body was recovered and buried in Calcutta (Bhowanipore) war cemetery. Members of No.615 Squadron took up a subscription for a remembrance window in St Augustine's Catholic Church, Yarraville, Melbourne. McCormack had been the epitome of the aggressive World War II pilot of single-seat fighter and ground-attack aircraft.
    Select Bibliography

    G. Odgers, Air War Against Japan 1943-1945 (Canb, 1957); Age (Melbourne), 26 June 1945; PR 88/083 and AWM 65 (Australian War Memorial). More on the resources
    Author: John McCarthy
    Print Publication Details: John McCarthy, 'McCormack, David William (1917 - 1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, Melbourne University Press, 2000, pp 180-181.
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I wonder how many more were disenchanted enough to talk about it ??

    India. C. 1944-06. Portrait of Flight Lieutenant D. W. McCormack DFC and Bar RAAF, a member of an RAF unit in India.

    ID Number:
    Title: McCormack, David William (Squadron Leader, DFC & Bar 615 Sqn RAF d: 1944 )
    Maker: McCormack, David William
    Object type: Diary
    Date made: 1945
    Measurements: 1 ITEM
    Copyright: External copyright
    Access: Open
    Related unit: 615 Squadron RAF
    Related place: India; United Kingdom: England

    AWM Collection Record: PR88/083 - McCormack, David William (Squadron Leader, DFC & Bar 615 Sqn RAF d: 1944 )
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Maybe an email here would get you a picture of the window !

    St. Augustine's Church, Melbourne, Australia
  4. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    The church is close to where Jodi works and would take me about 15-20 minutes to get to from work. Have a dentist's appointment on Friday so leaving work early. Might see if we can pop in.

    St. Augustine's Church, Melbourne, Australia

    He was certainly with 615 for a long time. Does anyone know if any records are accessible for 615 or even 55 OTU?
  5. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    It looks like an early EATS enlistment as well. I'll cross-reference with Bush Cotton's Hurricanes Over Burma as he was in the first training group, IIRC, and Ron Cundy's Gremlin On My Shoulder as he was also fairly early.
  6. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Another story of suffering and survival is that of John Payne, one of a pair of twin brothers flying Spitfires with 615 Squadron in Burma, who survived being shot down by a Japanese Zero. Although wounded, he struggled to safety through rugged jungle and Japanese lines, in constant fear of snakes and tigers

    HSC Online
  7. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Found this ...

    AWM Collection Record: SEA0204 - Nidania, Arakan, Burma. 29 March 1945. Twin brothers flying with No. 615 'Churchill's Own' (Spitfire) Squadron RAF on the Burma front are 409953 Warrant Officer (WO) John Payne (left) and 409957 ...
  8. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Thanks Annie. Had not heard of John Payne. Will follow up.

    EDIT: don't need to now. Thanks. I wonder if they're still alive...since they grew up in Hampton, Victoria...
  9. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    AWM Collection Record: REL32642 - Drogue parachute : Warrant Officer J E Payne RAAF, 615 Squadron RAF

  10. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    This church is in Bourke St Melbourne at the western end of the city. My niece was married there.

    Yarraville is a suburb about 10 kms away?
  11. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    I was wondering about that, Geoff, thanks. The right St Augustine's must be in Yarraville?
  12. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Ah ha, here we go:

    Pages 15-29 feature McCormack and include a wonderful comic strip from the Argus, career details and the history of the window including a photo of it. I'll still get out there to add a colour version of the stained glass window.

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