Bio / Text:
Graham Harwood FRIIS
From the National Archives AIR/27/2072
19-Mar-45 W/O Friis hit by flak crash landed near Piove de Sacco and failed to return
19-Mar-45 W/O Friis hit by flak and crash landed (PL351)
A New Zealander NZ421137 W/O Friis, G.H. flying in Spitfire IX L.F. PL351 was hit by flak, and crash landed in a field 2 miles South of PIOVE de SACCO. The incident occurred whilst they were operating against a target at MR. (E) 2738, sheet 13, Venice, Italy 1:250,000.
Almost immediately after W/O. Friis had completed his bombing run, he called up on his R/T and reported that he had been hit in his elevator controls, he stated however that he could manage to retain control of the aircraft.
When he was told by No. 5 that his a/c was emitting white smoke, W/O. Friis decided to make for base. This he started to do, with No.5 flying as escort. The white smoke soon changed to a brownish colour and W/O. Friis reported that his temperature was rising. He was then flying at 7500 ft.
He was asked if he could remain at that height, and he replied 'No' and that he intended to crash land. He was then instructed to attempt and reach the marshes around the Gulf of Venice as it would be possible to get a Walrus to pick him up. Soon, it became apparent that it would be impossible for him to make the area, and as a result he commenced to crash land.
He made a good approach, but undershot touching down approximately ten feet short of the field and landing on a road that ran alongside the field. The aircraft was seen to slide off the road turn over onto its back and the starboard wing detached itself.
About 12 people were seen to run to the scene of the accident, but it is believed they were civilian owing to the lack of uniform seen.
On return of the escort to base, and having no further information regarding either W/O. Friis or his aircraft the were categorised as Pilot Missing Particulars Unknown and the Spitfire as Cat. E.2.4.(Missing).
Graham Harwood Friis survived the war. He was a PoW for a short while.
He died on 10 June 1986 and is buried in the Magaroa Cemetery