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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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4 rnzaf
4 Squadron (NZ) PV-I Ventura NZ4578 F/O. Keith Maxwell Graham

Operation: Patrol

Date: 28th May 1945 (Monday)

Unit: No. 4 Squadron (NZ) (motto: 'Always attack')

Type: PV-I Ventura

Serial: NZ4578

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solon Islands

Location: Between Hauhui and Kiu

Pilot: F/O. Keith Maxwell Graham NZ/436754 RNZAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Obs: Sgt. Melville Pascoe Lawrence Moxsom NZ/4313880 RNZAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leo Parkes Marshall NZ/432216 RNZAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric George Priest NZ/4314322 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglas David Read NZ/44810 RNZAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed


Aircraft history:

Built by Lockheed as model 237-27-01 in Burbank. Constructors Number 237-6209. Delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as PV-1 Ventura bureau number 49393. Disassembled and shipped to Hawaii and re-assembled on Oahu then shipped overseas to New Zealand as part of defence aid. On February 29, 1944, Assigned to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as Ventura NZ4578 . Reassembled by Unit 19 at Whenuapai Airfield. In late 1944, assigned to 2 Squadron on Guadalcanal. In January 1945 transferred to 8 Squadron. Later assigned to 4 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Taking off at 06:11hrs. While flying at 1650 ft. in bad weather, the aircraft port wing struck trees and swung the Ventura into a hillside just inland of the west coast on Malaita and where the load of 4 depth charges exploded on impact, killing the entire crew.

The wreckage was spotted from the air later in the day. A ground party reached the scene on the 30th May but due to the explosion they found little trace of the five crew. The scarce partial remains which were found at the time, were buried followed by a short service.

Above: The starboard vertical stabiliser of RNZAF Lockheed Ventura PV-1, NZ4578, in the jungle mountain crash site in 2010. Note the last two digits of plane serial, ‘78’ in yellow above the fin flash. Note impact damage in leading-edge from high-speed crash which killed everyone on board and detonated the depth bomb loading on May 28, 1945. (Courtesy TV Producer Les Dawson).

Above: F/O. Keith Maxwell Graham, Sgt. Melville Pascoe Lawrence Moxsom, Fl/Sgt. Leo Parkes Marshall, Sgt. Douglas David Read, Sgt. Eric George Priest. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Burial details:

F/O. Keith Maxwell Graham. Bourail Memorial. Panel 4. Born on the 07th September 1924 in Hokitika. Enlisted at Harewood on the 15th May 1943. 1119 flying hours logged with 159 on the Ventura. Son of Peter and Elizabeth Muriel Graham (née Pringle), of Franz Josef Glacier, Westland, New Zealand.

Sgt. Melville Pascoe Lawrence Moxsom. Bourail Memorial. Panel 8. Born on the 17th November 1924 in Auckland. Enlisted at Delta on the 14th of December 1943. 303 flying hours logged. Son of William Arthur Pascoe Moxsom and Monowai Merle Moxsom (née Ross), of 45 Anglesea Street Ponsonby, Taupiri, Auckland, New Zealand. An only child, his engagement had only been announced on the 26th May 1945 to Jean Philips (WAAF) of Frost Road, Mount Roskill, Auckland.

Fl/Sgt. Leo Parkes Marshall. Bourail Memorial. Panel 6. Born on the 05th July 1924 in New Plymouth. Enlisted on the 20th February 1943 at Omaha. 221 flying hours logged. Son of Frederick James Marshall (died 17th August 1957, age 68) and of Nora Marshall (nee Parkes), of Raurimu, Wellington, New Zealand.

Sgt. Eric George Priest. Bourail Memorial. Panel 8. Born on the 22nd of May 1924 in New Plymouth. Enlisted on the 06th March 1944 at Delta. 220 flying hours logged. Son of Martin George Turner Priest (née Earp - died 30th January 1969, age 80) and Elsie Mary Priest (née Earp - died 30th November 1973, age 80), of Princes Street, Thames, Auckland, New Zealand.

Sgt. Douglas David Read. Bourail Memorial. Panel 8. Born on the 13th of September 1924 in Cambridge. Enlisted on the 11th February 1944 at Delta. Son of Arthur (died 10th May 1960, age 68) and Elizabeth Douglas Read (née Douglas - died 27th October 1977, age 88), of Maunu, Auckland, New Zealand

Above: L-R: Rear; P/O. H.C Acton-Adams, F/O. T.A Gallagher, F/O. R.F Boyce, P/O. Keith Maxwell Graham.
Front; Fl/Sgt. Jack Womack Mummery, Fl/Lt. William John Farnsworth, Fl/Lt. J.H.G Cooke, Fl/Sgt. Richard Leonard Floyd Wilks. (Courtesy Air 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 08-07-2022

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