15.01.1945 No. 16 Squadron RNZAF Corsair NZ5283 Fl/Lt. Johnson MiD
Date:15th January 1945 (Monday)
Unit: No. 16 Squadron RNZAF
Type: Corsair F4U-I
Base: Green Island, Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea (now known as Nissan Island)
Location: Between Green Island and Feni Island
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Thomas Randall French Johnson NZ/401276 RNZAF Age 30. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Although the description, as shown above, refers to Fl/Lt. Johnson this Archive Report attempts to describe what has become known in New Zealand as 'Black Monday' - involving the loss of 7 RNZAF pilots in the unsuccessful rescue attempt of Johnson's colleague Fl/Lt. Francis George Keefe NZ/417066 RNZAF. This constitutes the largest loss of life of New Zealand pilots on the same operation in history, remarkably all but one directly through enemy action.
However, we have also dedicated a page to Fl/Lt. Thomas Johnson as Beverly Johnson submitted a great deal of further information on him and he deserves this special recognition. To read his fuller biography and further photographs click this link.
Aircrew Remembered have been assisted with this by Mr. Bryan Cox the last surviving member of this operation and by Beverly Johnson, the daughter of the pilot, as well as the respected aviation historian Mr. Errol Martyn who provided many details on the pilots involved. Additional information was provided by relatives of some of the pilots. We would welcome contact from others who maybe able to add to this page.
We have received a large number of photographs from Beverly Johnson and Mr. Bryan Cox and the selection made to accompany this story maybe augmented in future when we have developed a suitable way to display them all.
'The story begins with Fl/Lt. Keefe along with some 35 other Corsairs making a strike against Japanese targets at Taboi Wharf in Simpson Harbour. Keefe was hit by ant-aircraft fire at 09:05 hrs and, although wounded in the arm, he managed to abandon his aircraft and landed by parachute in an area known as the 'Beehives', a group of rocks in the centre of Simpson Harbour. He began to swim towards the entrance of the harbour despite his wounds. However owing to the tide he drifted back.
A Catalina from the USAAF requested permission to attempt a rescue landing but the anti-aircraft batteries and the overwhelming Japanese forces would have made this a suicide mission and consequently Sq/Ldr. Paul Green denied the request. (shown right)
The RNZAF never gave up on the rescue for the fallen pilot and during the day sections of Corsairs constantly flew overhead to prevent the Japanese from capturing their fellow pilot.
Towards dusk at 18:30 hrs a Ventura aircraft flown by P/O. Leo James Lyons MiD NZ/4216285 RNZAF, escorted by Corsairs from 14 Squadron and 16 Squadron, carried out a low level sortie to drop two bamboo life rafts for the pilot. The Ventura crew managed to return safely to their base.
In addition to Japanese land forces opposing the RNZAF there were no less than five Japanese airfields in the area - Namatanai on New Ireland, and the other four all around Rabaul - Lakunai, Keravat, Vunakanu and Raporo.
Part of the Ventura escort were confronted by a tropical storm on their return but they were all very low on fuel and had no option but to attempt fly though it to their base on Green Island in total darkness and hampered by heavy rain and lightning.
Seven New Zealand pilots failed to make it and were lost.
The pilot, Fl/Lt. Francis Keefe in the meantime had been picked up by the Japanese and taken PoW. Sadly he died on the 30th January 1945 from blood poisoning.
In November 2018 Mr. Bryan Cox now the only surviving RNZAF crew member from that day, sent us his recollections.
Following Corsair Conversion at Ardmore in September 1944, I was posted into No 16 Fighter Squadron commanded by Sq/Ldr. Paul Green DFC of Hamilton for squadron training. As an introduction to the tropics, and to conduct further squadron training we were then based at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal for a month, then ferried about 24 Corsairs up to Green Island, a flight of three hours.
At Green Island we were allotted a large Quonset Hut in the American Pilots’ Camp, housing officers and NCO pilots together, and whilst cutting jungle back from a primitive wooden showering structure, I accidentally cut my right knee deeply with my machete which we carried in our survival packs.
After a spell in hospital, consisting of a large tent, I made my first operational flight over Rabaul flying No 2 to Sq/Ldr. Paul Green on the 6th of January 1945. Along with pilots from 14 Squadron RNZAF, our major daily task was to patrol overhead the five Japanese airfields at Rabaul, to prevent any Japanese aircraft from operating. Three days later I also experienced my first dive-bombing attack on the Japanese airfield at Namatanai on New Ireland, which was quite an experience.
Six days later, on the 15th January I was given a welcome day off, it being my 20th birthday. I enjoyed a relaxed morning all on my own, lying on a raft in the lagoon, which had been left by the American MAG 14 Fighter Squadron which we replaced. On attending the midday meal at the American Pilots Camp I learnt of the loss that morning of Fl/Lt. Frank Keefe of 14 Squadron who had been shot down during a bombing attack on Toboi Wharf at Rabaul by 14 and 16 Squadrons based on Green Island, and 24 and 21 Squadrons based on Bougainville.
His aircraft was hit by Japanese anti aircraft fire, and caught fire causing Frank to bale out, landing in the middle of Simpson Harbour at Rabaul, surrounded by 100,000 Japanese. Unknown to me, pilots of both Green Island squadrons had been maintaining protective cover over Frank all day as he successfully swam towards the harbour entrance throughout the morning, but was then washed back into the harbour by the turning tide in the afternoon.
Although an American Black Catalina air-sea rescue flying boat was circling just outside the harbour entrance it could not land unless the weather closed in, which unfortunately didn’t happen. At least once whilst I was flying with Paul Green over Simpson Harbour, I heard the pilot of the US Navy Catalina (Capt. Lee Dobeberstein) call on the radio 'Requesting permission to land and pick up the downed pilot' to which Paul answered 'Negative' as such an attempt would have been suicidal under the existing weather conditions, although it was closing in a little.
Plan B was decided upon to have the Green Island natives construct two green bamboo rafts, to be dropped at low level by one of our RNZAF Venturas also based at Green Island. Being of green timber they would float lower in the water than our bright orange survival dinghies, which he was unable to deploy, so that he could hopefully paddle out of the harbour during the night.
At 16:30 hrs. I took off from Green Island in Corsair NZ5261, in formation with our C/O. Sq/Ldr. Paul Stanley Green DFC MiD NZ/401269 RNZAF, with myself on his right wing and F/O. Greville Randell NZ/427230 RNZAF on his left wing, to monitor Fl/Lt. Frank Keefe’s progress in Simpson Harbour at Rabaul, and direct the raft drop to him by our RNZAF Ventura. On approaching Rabaul, Grev Randell was instructed to climb to 10,000 ft overhead to maintain a VHF radio link with Green Island about 150 miles away.
On our first high-speed low-level run, Paul and I saw Frank Keefe valiantly breast stroking against an incoming tide, which had brought him back into the harbour. I flew close behind the Ventura as an observer for the raft drop, and Paul flew in front, indicating Frank’s position in the water to W/O. Ron Lindsey, pilot of the Ventura, by firing his guns into the water close to Frank.
Ron Lindsey dropped the rafts right on target, but I saw that Frank Keefe was now motionless, lying over something in the water, surrounded by 100,000 Japanese around the shoreline. Twelve other Corsairs from 14 and 16 Squadrons at Green Island strafed the shoreline during the raft-dropping operation, to divert the Japanese gunners attention from us, but I was too busy to see them!
Following the successful raft drop, fifteen of us Corsair pilots, plus the Ventura and Catalina crews, commenced what was normally a 45 minute flight back to Green Island diverting clear of the bottom of New Ireland still held by the Japanese.
The twelve Corsair pilots who strafed the shoreline of Simpson Harbour during the raft drop flew in two formations, one of four aircraft and one of eight aircraft, whilst Paul Green, Grev Randell and I flew as a formation of three - fifteen of us in all, flying in three formations, steering a heading for Green Island. After passing the bottom of New Ireland we noted an ominous looking jet-black tropical front lying right across our track to Green Island, with no other alternative airfield available. Before entering the front I noted the other two formations out to our left.
On entering the front we experienced heavy rain and very soon complete darkness as dusk fell, and before long all I could see of Paul Green’s aircraft was his starboard wingtip light.
Prior to entering the front I had luckily uncaged my artificial horizon, but as it was still day-light didn’t switch on any cockpit lighting. Whilst trying to hold tight formation with my leader Sq/Ldr. Paul Green on my left in complete darkness, I tried to locate the cockpit lighting switch in the lower right side of the cockpit, but fumbling with my right hand amongst 21 switches which I couldn’t see, apparently turned off the battery switch, losing all electrics including lights and radio for the rest of the flight. After becoming totally spatially disorientated, I suddenly lost sight of Paul’s starboard wingtip light under my port wingtip, so broke away to my right to avoid a collision.
Without cockpit lighting, the only two fluorescent instruments I could dimly read were the artificial horizon and the altimeter. The former showed that I was in a diving turn to the right, and the latter showed zero feet! I had been completely unaware that we had been flying at only 300 feet due to the reported low cloud base at Green Island, which I hadn’t heard due to my electrical failure.
Immediately levelling the wings, and climbing to and levelling off at 1,000 feet, which I could vaguely read on the altimeter, being short on fuel after almost three hours in the air, I was contemplating whether to bale out, or attempt a landing in the water, which would have been virtually impossible. The former option of baling out didn’t appeal too much either as in complete darkness I wouldn’t know when I was about to strike the water, and I imagined becoming entangled under my parachute and amongst all the shroud lines, wearing heavy boots, revolver, and survival pack etc, with the additional risk of sharks. I also knew it was still raining by feeling water running down my face from an apparently leaking canopy!
My brother Grant had been reported missing flying a Lancaster on a Berlin raid several months earlier, and at home my parents had just been advised by the International Red Cross that wreckage of his Lancaster had been located near Rimbeck in Germany with no survivors.
(Further information on this loss can be read here)
With no idea in which direction I was flying, and not expecting to ever see my parents again I was wondering how they would accept my own loss when unbelievingly I saw trees and a curved coastline directly below me illuminated in a flash of lightning. With little forward vision due to rain, I throttled back to select wheels and flaps, and although I couldn’t read the numbers on the airspeed indicator, noted the slant of the indicator needle for a 100 kts approach speed in a lightning flash, and continued following the curved coastline with the needle pointing at that angle to maintain 100 kts until sighting the dim flare path ahead.
However, I soon realised that three hours earlier we had taken off in the opposite direction, so with no lights showing, and aware that there could be another 14 Corsairs, an RNZAF Ventura bomber, and a US Navy Catalina all landing in the opposite direction decided to re-circuit to land the opposite way. During that manoeuvre I briefly lost sight of the flare path a couple of times, apparently in rain, but luckily managed to find the dim flare path again.
Making my first night landing, and probably my worst in a Corsair as I bounced badly, I was determined not to overshoot due to lack of fuel for another circuit, and luckily managed to come to a stop on the runway, then taxied back to dispersal following a lit-up American 'Follow Me' jeep, still in one piece. Total logged flight-time was 2 hours 30 minutes Day and 40 minutes Night- a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes since take-off, flying for 40 minutes after official evening civil twilight.
They would not have seen me taxi in, showing no lights, and no radio, and when I began to climb out there were about 20 airmen below me reaching up to give me a hand down. My friend and Flight Commander Fl/Lt. Edwin Leonard 'Butch' Avery NZ/42355 RNZAF (later DFC) of Hamilton was saying 'Take it easy, take it easy, Coxy' but I was completely unaware of the situation regarding the fate of the other 14 pilots, with no radio for the last half hour or so. I was taken to the operations office - a tent where Sq/Ldr. Paul Green was standing on his own looking down at the table, then he raised his head and said 'Christ I thought you were dead'!
I celebrated my 20th birthday with half a mug of neat rum given to me by the 'Intelligence Officer' Ralph Karsten during debriefing. After being driven back to our large squadron Quonset hut in a jeep, I was all on my own as everyone was at the strip listening to R/T calls being made by the other twelve pilots, some of whom were still airborne after I landed. I firstly wrote a letter to my parents telling them that I had been playing cricket that day, so that they would know that I was still alive, and was then visited by the squadron Medical Officer who gave me an injection of morphia to put me to sleep, which apparently worked as I didn’t recall any more until next morning.
My fellow pilot Grev Randell, who had been a flying instructor prior to joining 16 Squadron, had managed to hold position on Paul’s port wingtip until reaching Green Island, but then crashed and was killed on the far side of the lagoon, apparently from running into rain or cloud, and becoming disorientated in the darkness.
Above: The survivors from 14 Squadron.
Of the other twelve Corsairs, only six landed safely, in addition to Paul Green and myself, making our loss for the day of eight pilots including Frank Keefe, who was captured by the Japanese but died two weeks later, allegedly from infection of injuries received when his aircraft was hit and caught fire.
Pilots Tom Johnson and Ron Albrecht from 16 Squadron, and Bruce Hay, John McArthur and Bert Saward of 14 Squadron all either collided or flew into the water from disorientation, and Ian Munro of 14 Squadron managed to lead four of their pilots safely back to Green Island but he then just disappeared into cloud or rain without landing!
The next morning I attended Grev’s burial service, and later in the day was sent on an aircraft test-flight in Corsair NZ5277 flying for 1½ hours, during which I flew a 50 mile radius of Green Island, unsuccessfully looking for any signs of aircraft wreckage or survivors.
Since 16 Squadron pilot Norman Reeve’s death at Oropi in Tauranga on 24th April 2004 I have been the last survivor of this tragic operation, remembered sadly each year on my birthday - and many times in between!
However, of the crew of five flying the New Zealand Ventura bomber which dropped the life rafts to Frank Keefe in the water, only the navigator Athol White of Te Puke still survives, and we still meet occasionally.
Over the years since this sad event, I have continually pondered over how I managed to miraculously fly over a section of Green Island atoll measuring only about four miles across, being quite unaware of what direction I had been flying since avoiding collision with Paul Green, approximately 30 minutes previously.
I now sincerely believe that I owe my life to the Corsair’s great ability to hold an exact heading for long periods without pilot input, which may not have been achieved in say a Spitfire, Mustang or Kittyhawk with their ‘straight’ wings. The Corsair’s inherent lateral, and therefore directional stability is due to its ‘bent’ wings, which involve anhedral (down slope) inboard, and very obvious dihedral (up slope) outboard. Although employed to reduce the length of the undercarriage legs for heavy carrier landings, the outboard dihedral also results in improved lateral stability - which in turn results in excellent directional stability.
Prior to my quick avoidance manoeuvre to the right, Paul Green was probably holding a heading provided by radio from the American operated Green Island VHDF station, but unheard by me due to my electrical problem. When I quickly banked to the right to avoid collision, I immediately reverted to my instruments, which although only dimly visible showed me that I was in a diving turn to the right, with zero feet showing on the weakly luminous altimeter. I instantly hit the stick to the left to level the wings, and pulled back to avoid striking the water and to commence a climb. This action probably only took less than two seconds, during which I may have not turned more than a degree or two from our original heading. So although I was not aware of what heading I was flying, it was apparently very close to the heading that Paul Green had been leading me - which thanks to the Corsair’s ability to hold accurate headings, my trusty NZ5261 safely returned me back (home) to Green Island!
A few years after WW2 I took my parents out to Rukuhia airfield at Hamilton and photographed them with my faithful NZ5261 - still sitting forlornly awaiting its turn for the furnace!
Bryan Cox, Tauranga, New Zealand
Marvin Birk from Brooklyn, New York donated US $1,000 to the NZ Fighter Pilots Assn. prior to the 60th anniversary of the Green Island tragedy. Marvin then aged 20, like Bryan, was based on Green Island with the US Navy Seabees and had many fond memories of Kiwi pilots. He was introduced to sailing (with a raft and bed sheets), to playing the ukulele and to a strong form of home brew (contents unknown). With the money provided by Marvin and other member Fighter Pilots, a commemorative stone was prepared and unveiled at MOTAT 2 in Auckland, on a gloriously sunny, 15 January 2005. The ceremony took place outside under the reconditioned Spitfire and many aircrew, families and friends were there to remember those who didn’t return to Green Island. (courtesy Beverly Johnson)
From 16 Squadron:
(see burial details below for further information)
Fl/Sgt. Ronald Wilfred Albrecht NZ/438630 RNZAF Age 20. Flying as No 2 with Fl/Lt. Thomas Johnson. Crashed into the sea at 19:24 hrs and exploded.
Fl/Lt. Thomas Randall French Johnson MiD. NZ/401276 RNZAF Age 30. Hit the water at 19:24 hrs and exploded.
F/O. Greville Randell NZ/427230 RNZAF Age 24. On return to Green Island base made a circuit but crashed into the jungle at Blue Beach and burst into flames as 19:25 hrs.
Survivors of 16 Squadron
Sq/Ldr. Paul Stanley Green DFC MiD NZ/401269 RNZAF Age 26. Born 15th December 1919 at Kawakawa. Citation: Mention in Despatches (2 Jan 1945 - 19 Sqn RNZAF (Kittyhawk)] In three tours in the Pacific forward areas, between June, 1943, and April, 1944, this officer has taken part in 111 missions against the enemy, and has flown 273 hours on operations as a fighter pilot. He displayed outstanding qualities of leadership during the Munda and Bougainville campaigns, and in the first fighter sweep over Rabaul on 17th December, 1943, his superior tactics drew a flight of enemy fighters into a position in which the top cover of United States aircraft were able to make a successful attack. Flight Lieutenant Green has displayed consistent courage and devotion to duty.
Citation: Distinguished Flying Cross (10 Jul 1945 - 16 Sqn RNZAF (Corsair) As a thoroughly experienced leader, Acting Squadron Leader Green has flown 112 operational sorties as a fighter and later as a fighter-bomber pilot. He has a strong offensive spirit and the utmost enthusiasm to engage the enemy. On the 15th January, 1945, he played a prominent part in a successful attempt to drop rafts to a New Zealand pilot down in Simpson Harbour, Rabaul. At a low altitude, and regardless of enemy fire, he made several runs to locate his fellow-pilot, and then led a bomber aircraft round Vulcan Crater and to the mouth of the Harbour, indicating the correct moment to drop the rafts by firing his guns. The rafts straddled the downed pilot. Acting Squadron Leader Green’s conduct on this occasion was typical of his attitude through his long operational career.
Sq/Ldr. Green flew five tours in the South and South West Pacific - two with 14 Squadron RNZAF and one with 19 Squadron RNZAF (all on Kittyhawks), and two with 16 Squadron RNZAF (Corsair). C/O. 16 Squadron October 1944-July 1945. Died Wellington, 2nd November 1975 age just 56. Was a statistician.
Fl/Sgt. Bryan Barker Cox NZ/437270 RNZAF Age 20. Born 15th January 1925. Enlisted 31st October 1943. Bryan is still flying today age 93. His brother was lost whilst serving with 61 Squadron, killed flying Lancaster JB129 QR-G on Saturday, the 25th March 1944.
P/O. Leo James Lyons MiD. NZ/4216285 RNZAF Age 23. Born 12th March 1922 at Christchurch. Citation: Mention in Despatches (10 Jul 1945): For meritorious service. Flew three tours with 16 Sqn RNZAF in the S and SWPAs - one on Kittyhawks and two on Corsairs. Passed away at Christchurch, Saturday, the 8th May 1982 age 82.
F/O. Norman John Reeve NZ/427563 RNZAF Age 21. Born 14th January 1924. Enlisted 11th July 1942. Passed away at his home at Oropi near Tauranga on Saturday the 24th April 2004 age 80.
From 14 Squadron:
(see burial details below for further information)
Fl/Sgt. Ian James Munro NZ/4212589 RNZAF Age 20. On return whilst in a circuit of the base seen to pull up into cloud and disappear at 19:40 hrs.
F/O. Albert Norman Saward NZ/4213927 RNZAF Age 22. Thought to have perhaps hit debris or taking avoiding action during the mid air collision of Fl/Lt. Bruce Hay and Fl/Sgt. John McArthur and crashed into the sea.
Fl/Sgt. John Seddon McArthur NZ42787 RNZAF Age 24. Whilst flying at about 300 ft. collided with Fl/Lt. Bruce Hay and crashed into the sea at 19:24 hrs.
Fl/Lt. Bruce Stafford Hay NZ/413846 RNZAF Age 23. Whilst flying at about 300 ft. collided with Fl/Sgt. John McArthur and crashed into the sea at 19:24 hrs.
Survivors of 14 Squadron:
W/O. Donald George Walther NZ/425712 RNZAF Age 24. Born on the 28th August 1921 at Woodville, a dairy farmer prior to service. Enlisted on the 30th May 1942.
F/O. Harold Patrick Crump MiD NZ/4211707 RNZAF Age 24. Born 19th September 1921 at Dargaville. Citation: Mention in Despatches (10 Jul 1945): For meritorious service. Served three tours in the Pacific with 14 Sqn RNZAF (Kittyhawk/Corsair). A university student prior to service.
F/O. Ronald Robert Mitchell NZ/431194 RNZAF Age 21. Born 10th April 1924 at Palmerston North, 10th April 1924. Enlisted 22nd January 1943. A fireman prior to service.
F/O. Stanley Robert Sparrow NZ/4214109 RNZAF Age 24. Born 11th June 1921. Enlisted on the 30th October 1942.
Burial - with further information:
Fl/Lt. Francis George Keefe. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave 8.14. Born on the 23rd July 1916 at Auckland, the son of M.F. Keefe, husband of Frances Adelaide Keefe (née Mackenzie) of Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand. Brother of William John Francis Keefe NZ/4210922 RNZAF (14th April 1913 - 19th January 1993).
Fl/Lt. Thomas Randall French Johnson. MiD. Bourail Memorial. Panel 3. Born on the 14th November 1914 at Gisborne, the son of Charles William and Catherine Young Johnson (née Wardrope) and husband of Winifred Pearl Johnson (née Brownlee), of Kingsland, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 2518 flying hours logged with 76 on the Corsair. Worked as a machinist for James Hardie and Company prior to service. Also served in the New Zealand Army as a gunner and later as a driving instructor and wireless operator. Joined the RNZAF as a pilot under training on the 07th May 1940.His biography as written by his daughter Beverly can be read here.
Fl/Sgt. Ronald Wilfred Albrecht. Bourail Memorial. Panel 6. Born on the 30th April 1924 at Palmerston North, the son of John George and Louisa Mabel Albrecht (née Grannowe), of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a factory assistant for Massey Collective (Dairy). A total of 283 flying hours solo with 96 on the Corsair.
F/O. Greville Randell. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave 8.9. Born on the 14th October 1920 at Tauranga, the son of William Edgar Randell and of Ivy Margaret Randell (née Poad) and husband of June Florence Jones Randell (née Hopkinson), of Wataitai, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as electroplater for the City Electroplating Company. A total of 1239 flying hours logged with 95 on the Corsair.
Fl/Sgt. Ian James Munro. Bourail Memorial. Panel 6. Born on the 15th August 1924 at Kaitaia, North Auckland, the son of Alan Munro and of Annie Munro (née Cosgrave), of Whangaripo, Auckland, New Zealand. Before joining the service worked as a farmhand on the family farm at Whangaripo. A total of 510 flying hours logged with 215 on the Corsair.
F/O. Albert Norman Saward. Bourail Memorial. Panel 4. Born on the 04th December 1922 at Hamilton, the son of Charles Arthur and Alice Rosalind Saward (nee Wakelin), of Manurewa, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a farm hand for S.G. Nixon, Eureka. A total of 538 flying hours logged with 226 on the Corsair. His brother 27 year old, Pilot 1 Howard Charles Saward NZ/4016222 RNZAF also served, both during the war with the Takoradi Defence Flight and 128 Squadron RAF in West Africa and later with 486 Squadron RNZAF when he was shot down in Typhoon Ib EJ915 on the 24th September 1943 and captured PoW No: 659 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug. Sadly he was killed post war on Thursday 26th August 1948 whilst with 222 Squadron when Meteor F.4 RA450 dived into the sea off Shoreham by Sea in England - he was thought to have become unconscious during manoeuvring. He had a total of 422 flying hours logged (40 on the Meteor) - and completed 63 operational sorties.
Fl/Sgt. John Seddon McArthur. Bourail Memorial. Panel 6. Born 18th August 1920 at Christchurch, the son of John Duncan and Ethel Seddon McArthur (née Brean) and stepson of John Trewin, of Kaikoura, Marlborough, New Zealand. Working as a farmer for John Trewin - his stepfather. A total of 462 flying hours logged with 125 on the Corsair.
Fl/Lt. Bruce Stafford Hay. Bourail Memorial. Panel 3. Born on the 02nd December 1921 at Taihape, Manawatu, the son of Herbert Miller Hay and Marjorie Hay (née Powell), of Taihape, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a clerk for Dalgety and Company. A total of 2007 flying hours logged with 220 on the Corsair.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: 'For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3', Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, we are also indebted to Beverly and the families of Fl/Lt. Johnson and that of Fl/Lt. Keefe. Also to Mr. Bryan Cox - the sole surviving RNZAF pilot who took part in this rescue operation who kindly sent us a CD packed with information and photographs. Thanks also to Paul Keefe, Chantel Strydom and the people of the Copy Centre Specialists at the East Tamaki Store, Auckland, New Zealand for their kind assistance and to Jenifer Lemaire for her contributions. Brian Ramsey and Ian Martyn of Medals Reunited New Zealand. Their assistance made this page and many others possible.