Flight Lieutenant John Ridgeway STURM

Service No: 407133
Born: Payneham SA, 15 February 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 June 1940
Unit: No. 452 Squadron
Died: Aircraft Accident: Mindoro and Luzon (No. 452 Squadron Spitfire aircraft A58-478), Merauke, 17 December 1944, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Townsville War Cemetery, QLD
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Charles Frederick and Agnes Emma Ottilie Sturm, of Seaton Park, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

At 1054 hours on 17 December 1944, Spitfire aircraft A58-325, A58-478 and A58-534 collided while landing at Merauke and one pilot, Flight Lieutenant Sturm, was killed.

Three aircraft had already landed, and A58-534 had completed a successful landing but had stopped halfway down the strip. The second aircraft to land, A58-525 flown by Flight Lieutenant Lumley had landed close behind the first aircraft, and collided with it, swinging it sideways and blocking the runway. Pilot Officer Chrystal in A58-478 who was making a flapless landing due to damaged flaps, landed against the red light, and could not pull up in time to avoid a collision with A58-534 flown by Flight Lieutenant Sturm. It struck A58-534 behind the cockpit and 534 caught fire. Flight Lieutenant Sturm was killed instantly and Pilot Officer Chrystal seriously injured in the accident.

The pilots were:

Pilot Officer (later Flying Officer) William James Hastie Chrystal (402729) (Spitfire A58-325) Seriously injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 25 September 1945
Flight Lieutenant Albert Laurence Lumley (411587) (Spitfire A58-534) Uninjured, Discharged from the RAAF: 6 May 1946
Flight Lieutenant John Ridgeway Sturm (407133) (Spitfire A58-478) Killed


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 79


Wilson, S. (Stewart) Spitfire, Mustang and Kittyhawk in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1988

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