Louis Thomas Spence, DFC & Bar, was a fighter pilot and squadron commander in the Royal Australian Air Force. During World War II he flew with No. 3 Squadron, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. He commanded No.452 Squadron in 1944, flying Supermarine Spitfires in defence of Australia’s North-Western Area against the Japanese. He died in a plane crash in South Korea on 25 September 1961.
About Lou Spence in brief
Louis Thomas Spence, DFC & Bar, was a fighter pilot and squadron commander in the Royal Australian Air Force. During World War II he flew with No. 3 Squadron, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. He commanded No. 452 Squadron in 1944, flying Supermarine Spitfires in defence of Australia’s North-Western Area against the Japanese. After a brief return to civilian life following World War II, he rejoined the RAAF in October 1946. He took command of No 77 Squadron, operating P-51 Mustangs as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, in February 1950. He was killed during a low-level mission over South Korea in September 1950. Spence was the fifth child of Robert John Spence and Louise Margaretta Marie, née Koob. He attended Longreach State School from 1924 to 1931 and Thornburgh College in Charters Towers from 1932 to 1934. He married Vernon Swain, a nurse, in St George’s Cathedral, Perth, on 24 May; the couple had two children. He died in a plane crash in South Korea on 25 September 1961. He is buried in the Melbourne suburb of Melbourne, with his wife and two children, in a private burial ground near the family home.
He also leaves behind a wife and a son. He worked as a bank clerk at the Bank of New South Wales in Brisbane, and studied at the bankers’ Institute of Australasia. He flew P-40 Tomahawks and Kittyhawks against German and Italian forces in North Africa in 1940. He received a Mention in Despatches for his leadership during the Korean War. He won two aerial victories and two aerial awards during the war, including the DFC and a bar to his DFC, as well as the US Legion of Merit and the US Air Medal. He served as an instructor at No 2 Operational Training Unit in Mildura, Victoria. The unit operated several types of aircraft, including Kittyhawks, CAC Boomerangs and Supermarine Superfires, and was posted to Mildura in September 1942, where he was a pilot instructor. He retired from the Air Force in 1946, and went on to work as a banker in Brisbane. He had a son, Peter, and a daughter, Victoria, who died in 2007 at the age of 46. He has a son and a step-son, David, who both served in the Australian Army and the Australian National Guard. He passed away in 2011 at age 83.