Stuart Crosby Walch was born in Hobart, Tasmania on 16 February 1917. He commenced a RAAF cadetship at 1 Flying Training School, Point Cook in July 1936. Jack Kennedy was one of his course mates. Stuart solo-d after flying 11 hours 5 minutes dual and after his solo was assessed as ‘satisfactory apart from a tending to overshoot and to do “wheel” landings’. He improved and graduated 14th in his class with 71.74%.
travelled to England and, on 26 August 1937, was granted a short service
commission with the RAF. After training, he was posted to 151 Squadron where he
was Sub Flight Leader of A Flight at the outbreak of war. On 15 May 1940 he was
posted to the newly forming 238 Squadron, based at Tangmere.
He was one of the
first Australians to claim victory against the Luftwaffe after the opening of
the Battle of Britain and was lost in action on 11 August 1940, just one month
after that victory. After his death, the station medical officer wrote to
Stuart’s family and told them of how their son ‘had the reputation of being the
“father” of his squadron’, how he ‘took on all the most dangerous jobs himself
and made a point of shepherding young pilots so that they could make their
first “kills” safely’ and how he was ‘like a brother to the younger men, many
of whom never realized how his superior skills saved them’.