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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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RNZAF crest
18 Squadron Warhawk P-40 NZ3156/56 F/O. Bew

Operation: Patrol

Date: 21st November 1943 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 18 Squadron RNZAF

Type: Warhawk P-40

Serial: NZ3156/56

Code: -

Base: Ondonga, New Georgia, Solomon Islands


Pilot: F/O. John Desmond Bew NZ402842 RNZAF Age 29. Killed


One of eight taking off for a patrol over Empress Augusta Bay Bouganville at 05:35 hrs.

During take pff the Warhawk crashed in flames in a deep jungle swamp 300 yards off the east end of the strip after failing to gain full power on becoming airborne.

Fireman LAC W.R. Linnell and driver AC1. A.J. Fullerton waded through the swamp with considerable difficulty suffering cuts on the legs by concealed roots and obstructions. Sadly on reaching the wreckage they found the pilot to be dead. Both airmen were commended for their rescue attempt.

The cause was thought to be likely caused the engine was not being run up before take off. The spark plugs bribable becoming leaded whilst taxiing and idling for some time.

Burial and other personal details:

Initially buried in New Georgia but temporarily transferred to the Torokina Australian War Cemetery before final internment at Bourail.

F/O. John Desmond Bew. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave 8.5. Born on the 19th of October 1914 at Auckland. Educated at Sacred Heart College, Seddon Memorial Technical College and Auckland and Auckland Technical College. Worked as a self-employed printer/stationer. Served in the territorial army for 3 years. Obtained his 'A' licence with Auckland Aero Club on the 01st June 1937. Enlisted at Levin on the 01st September 1940. With No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School 30th September 1940.With No. 2 Flying Training School 26th December 1940.

The pilot badge was awarded on the 10th of February 1941 and commissioned on the 22nd of March 1941. With No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School as an instructor and involved on 29th July 1941. (See photograph below) With No. 2 Operational Training Unit on the 07th August 1943 flying the P-40. Joined 18 squadron on the 10th September 1943. to the Pacific on 21st September 1943. (delayed due to the death of his mother). Son of John William Bew (died 11th April 1953, age 74) and Mary Cecelia New (née Gllers - died 15th September 1943, age 65) of Ellerslie, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 2009 flying hours were logged with 179 solo on the P-40.

Above: As described (Courtesy Airforce Museum of New Zealand)

L-R: Rear; Ronald William Bremner NZ/422361 ( Killed 05 February 1944), AR Walker, Barnabas Wilder Williams NZ/422739 (Died 31 May 1991), Harold Havelock Souter NZ/41551 /(Killed 13 February 1944), Clive Dudley Alfred Highet NZ/ 401273 (killed 27 January 1944), Clifford William Douglas Knight NZ/425910 (Killed 27 January 1944), Kenneth Tancred Palmer Chapman NZ/425689 (/Died 20 September 2012), Murray Adamson Nagel NZ/421163 (Killed 11 July 1944), JI Mackie, Anthony Francis Hough NZ/424080 (Died 21 April 2010).
Front; Peter Shiers Rishworth (NZ412740 (Killed 22 November 1943) , LA Rayner, Robert Hamish Balfour NZ/40958 (Died 28 June 1996), John Anderson Oldfield NZ/1316 (Died 20 March 1985), James Alfred McBride NZ/1879 (Died 2 March 1978), Raymond Jack Nelson Archibald NZ/416435 (Died 21 August 2010), John Desmond Bew NZ/402842 (Killed 21 November 1943), Bernard Lewis Hoskin NZ/40297 (Died 01st March 2006).

Above: As described (Courtesy RM Clarke personal collection and Airforce Museum of New Zealand)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 06-06-2022

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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