It Was a Spitfire!
I sent an email about the incident. My memory was that the fighter plane was a Spitfire which was piloted by an Australian, although I did not say this as I wasn't sure. The reply from Brett Green confirms my recollection. Thought this might interest your readers. The letter and Brett's response are below.
I was with the USA 31st Infantry Division at Morotai. I remember on Christmas night 1944 a fighter plane chasing a Jap bomber across the island. The guys manning the AA guns cut their fire and we Infantrymen sitting on top of our pillboxes watched as the searchlight remained on the enemy plane. We could clearly see the tracer bullets as the planes fired at each other. We were yelling "Get him" which he did as the Jap bomber burst into flames and fell into the ocean. A loud cheer then went up from all the Infantrymen. I am not sure but I believe the fighter plane was a Spitfire which was piloted by and Australian. Can you confirm this ?
Thank you for relating your experiences on Morotai Island.
Three RAAF fighter squadrons were based on Morotai around this time - 79, 452 and 457 Sqns. All were equipped with the Spitfire LF.VIII and HF.VIII.
Some records suggest that the Squadrons did not move until January 1945, but the island was secured in September 1944. Forward units of the Squadrons were based there at Christmas.
As per your recollection, at 10pm on 24 December F/O J.A. Pretty of 452 Sqn. RAAF shot down a twin-engined Japanese "Nick" night fighter.
452 Sqn. Spitfires normally carried "QY" codes, but F/O Pretty was flying Wing Commander Clive Caldwell's personal mount, CR-C (serial A58-484).
You witnessed a very rare event. After their desperate
defence early in the Pacific campaign, RAAF Squadrons were relegated to
mopping-up operations and scarcely saw an enemy aircraft. The previous
victory for the Squadron was 12
I hope this is of interest to you.
Bye for now,
June 6, 2000