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.
Early life and sporting career
Born in Prahran, Victoria, Truscott attended Melbourne High School, where he captained the First XI for the school in cricket.
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.
Truscott played 44 games (and kicked 31 goals) of VFL football as a half-forward flanker from 1937-1940 including Melbourne's 1939 and 1940 premierships.
Truscott joined the Royal Australian Air Force
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."
This problem would come to have a grim significance.
Truscott completed flight training in Canada and joined No. 452 Squadron RAAF, flying Spitfires in England on 5 May, 1941. He destroyed at least 14 Luftwaffe aircraft, was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and was made flight commander. Truscott was later made acting Squadron Leader.
In 1942, he was then posted back to Australia with 76 Squadron, flying Kittyhawks. By this stage Truscott was, along with Clive Caldwell, one of the most famous RAAF pilots.
Truscott's squadron was posted to Milne Bay, Papua and played a significant role in the Battle of Milne Bay.
It was later transferred to Darwin, Northern Territory for a time, then Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. Truscott was killed in an accident in Exmouth Gulf on March 28, 1943. 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.
The RAAF later named a base on the northern coast of the Kimberley region
as Truscott Airfield
The Melbourne Football Club's award for the Best and Fairest player is named in his honour, the "Bluey" Truscott Memorial Trophy.
At Melbourne High School (Vic, Australia), a scholarship is awarded in his name to a student displaying all round achievement in academic, sporting and extra-curricular activities. For reasons unknown it was discontinued, apparently in 1948. In 1994 Old Boy – Dr John Miller AO, winner of the 1946/47 Bluey Truscott Scholarship, Principal Ray Willis and the MHSOBA re-established the Bluey Truscott Scholarship. Dr John Miller provided the Bluey Truscott bronze plaque (hanging in the school foyer) and the "John Miller Distinguished Achievement Medal" to be awarded to all subsequent MHSOBA Bluey Truscott winners.
Truscott Street in North Ryde, Sydney is also named in his honour.
Honours and awards
- Main, J. & Allen, D., "Truscott, Keith DFC and Bar", pp.342-348 in Main, J. & Allen, D., Fallen — The Ultimate Heroes: Footballers Who Never Returned From War, Crown Content, (Melbourne), 2002. ISBN 1-740-95010-0
- Southall, I., Bluey Truscott: Squadron Leader Keith William Truscott, R.A.A.F., D.F.C. and Bar, Angus and Robertson, (Sydney), 1958.