During a brief air battle in WW2, Audet raised the RCAF bar by shooting down five enemy aircraft over Osnabruk in five minutes from his Spitfire.
High over the battlefield in World War Two, the young pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force scanned the skies for enemies. His Spitfire swooping and soaring under his practiced hands, Richard Joseph “Dick” Audet’s fighter plane permitted deft manoeuvrability. The agile action was just what the situation needed when the 411 (Grizzly Bear) Squadron and the 442 (Caribou) Squadrons took on the German foe on December 29, 1944. Never before shooting down a plane, Audet became an Ace that day.
Spitfires Dive into Battle
Part of the RCAF 411 Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Audet was leading the Yellow section over Osnabruk and the Rheine in central Germany on December 29, 1944. (The Spitfire was a single-seat aircraft, designed for high-performance short-range intercepting.) The Luftwaffe was spotted flying in the distance, four Messerschmitt 109s and eight Focke-Wulf 190s. The Canadian Day Fighters swooped into battle.
Flight Leader Audet
The first plane F/L Audet attacked was “at approximately 200 yards and 30 [degrees] to starboard.” According to Audet’s reports in “The RCAF Overseas: The Sixth Year by the Minister of National Defence” (Oxford University Press, Toronto 1949), the Canadian pilot wrote “at 10,000 feet I opened fire and saw strikes all over the fuselage and wing roots. The 109 burst into flames on the starboard side of the fuselage only, and trailed intense black smoke. I then broke off my attack.” Moments later, Audet saw his next target.
Seeing an FW.190, Audet again went on the attack. “I saw strikes over cockpit and to the rear of the fuselage,” he wrote. “It burst into flames from the engine back and as I passed very close over top of it I saw the pilot slumped over in the cockpit, which was also in flames.” Seconds later, Audet shot down an Me.109, the Luftwaffe pilot “baling” from his aircraft. Audet saw the plane “hit and smash into many flaming pieces on the ground.”
Luftwaffe Plane Bursts into Flames
Other members of the Grizzly Bear Squadron were also in skirmishes with the enemy in the sky. “I spotted an FW.190 being pursued at about 5,000’ by a Spitfire which was inturn pursued by an FW.190,” wrote Audet in his report. I called this Yellow section pilot to break and attacked the 190 up his rear. The fight went downward in a steep dive.” Opening fire, Audet made “many strikes on the length of the fuselage and it immediately burst into flames. I was this FW.190 go straight into the ground and burn.”
Attempting to form up his section but still in the midst of air combat with the Germans, Audet “dived down on him [an FW.190] and he turned in to me from the right. Then he flipped around in a left hand turn and attempted a headon attack.” Audet shot at the enemy, but could not see any immediate hits. The enemy’s aircraft “flicked violently, and continued to do so until he crashed into the ground. The remainder of my section saw this encounter, and Yellow 4 (F/O McCracken” saw it crash into flames.”
Enemy Equipment Destroyed
Completing other missions during the day of destroying train locomotives and rail cars, the Squadrons returned to base, pleased with the numbers for the day: nine enemy aircraft destroyed and one damaged. Audet achieved five of that total – three FW.190s and two Me.109s.
The brilliant career of the 22-year-old was soon cut short. Barely two months later, Dick Audet was killed in action while firing at locomotives on March 3, 1945 – always a dangerous and risky mission. “Bob McCracken (Yellow 4 on this flight) claimed the train that Dick was strafing blew up underneath him as he flew over it,” said Aces of World War 2. His body was never recovered.
Audet a Canadian Ace
Richard Joseph “Dick” Audet was born in Lethbridge, Alberta on March 13, 1922 to Paul and Edewisca Audet. Married, Audet was survived by his wife Iris Christine of Pinner, Middlesex. He enlisted with the RCAF in September 1941, and received his wings and commission on October 1942 at Brandon, Manitoba. After several postings, Audet was attached to No. 411 Squadron on October 23, 1944.
On that winter day in late December 1944 between Christmas and New Year’s, Audet joined the elite group of pilots renowned and esteemed for daring, skill and success. Audet was an Ace.
- Minister of National Defence, “The RCAF Overseas: The Sixth Year,” Oxford University Press, Toronto 1949, Pgs 238 – 240
- “Richard Joseph ‘Dick’ Audet,” Aces of World War 2 Accessed December 22, 2011
- “Profile: Spitfire, Canadian Aces, Richard ‘Dick’ Audet,” Veteran’s Affairs Canada Accessed December 22, 2011 (Page no longer available.)
This article was originally published on Suite101.com in 2011. Copyright Susanna McLeod