by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
Vic Murphy was a former real estate agent and – scout’s honour – one of the nicest, most decent blokes I have ever known. Many years ago my wife and I bought a holiday unit on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast through his agency, Vic Murphy Real Estate. We remained friends with Vic until he died in 2005. Vic Murphy Real Estate still operates at Maroochydore and in the office window, along with the usual photos of properties for sale, is this Anzac Day story which I wrote (for a number of publications) about the remarkable man who founded the agency.
Every Anzac Day, retired real estate agent Vic Murphy would recall how he spent that day in 1945. This former RAAF fighter pilot was at that time still feeling lucky to be alive after his Spitfire was shot down over Nazi Germany.
On April 25th 1945, with only a week or so remaining before the war in Europe would come to an end, 25 year old Vic was being held in solitary confinement in a 2m x 3m cell on a Luftwaffe (German Air Force) base. “My bed was a table with a straw mattress on it,” he recalled. In adjoining cells were British soldiers and a number of other fighter pilots. But they were not allied pilots. These prisoners were Luftwaffe officers who refused to fly because, Vic explained, “they were scared of our Spitfires and Mustangs, and because of their losses from our ground-strafing.”
In Vic’s case it was a matter of “just doing a job, flying for your country and doing the best you could.” Which is how Vic Murphy modestly described his World War II service which effectively ended on April 19, 1945 during a sortie over enemy airfields in Northern Germany to ensure the few remaining Luftwaffe planes stayed on the ground.
Unfortunately some enemy aircraft were already in the air, and being flown by German pilots still keen to do their defensive job. On that spring afternoon Flying Officer Murphy’s four-plane section found itself attacked and outnumbered by a formation of Focke Wolfe 190s which, he still suspects, were factory-fresh because they had no camouflage on their fuselage.
His later debriefing report for the Royal Air Force, to which he was attached, described one of the last aerial dogfights in the European theatre:
“I was in a steep turn attacking a FW 190 when I saw another FW 190 firing at me, but as his angle off was 60 degrees I did not think he could hit me. But then my engine cut and I caught fire, so he must have hit me. I bailed out and landed south of Wittenburg.”