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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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16.10.1942 No. 3 Squadron RNZAF Hudson IIIA NZ2055 F/O. Lauchlan

Operation: Patrol and Transit flight

Date: 16th October 1942 (Friday)

Unit: No. 3 Squadron RNZAF

Type: Hudson IIIA

Serial: NZ2055

Code: Not known

Base: Palikulo Airbase, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Location: Palikulo Bay

Pilot: F/O. William James Little Lauchlan NZ/391361 RNZAF Age 31. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: Sgt. Stephen William George Bishop NZ/413015 RNZAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Nav: F/O. Lister Charles Mulholland NZ/411225 RNZAF Age 28. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Maxwell Herbert Walker NZ/411306 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William John Cornish NZ/412865 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed


Fitter/Pax. AC1. Noel Louis Fowler NZ/411673 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

LAC. James Bett Ferguson NZ/401483 RNZAF Age 39. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 03:25hrs on an emergency patrol following reports that a large enemy naval force including an aircraft carrier were within striking range of the base.

The Hudson climbed steadily to 300 ft. They then climbed steeper causing the aircraft to stall and enter into a spiral dive. The Hudson exploded and disintegrated when they hit the sea some 125 yards from a reef. None of the crews bodies were recovered.

The two passengers were to be dropped off at Port Vila after the patrol. The report of the enemy naval force later turned out be incorrect.

Burial details:

F/O. William James Little Lauchlan. Bourail Memorial, New Caledonia Panel 4. Born on the 02nd February 1911 at Palmerston North, the son of James Barr Lauchlan and Hellen Brown Lauchlan (née Little) Husband of Iredale Edith Lauchlan (née Trent, later Thomas - sister of Gp/Ctn. Leonard Trent VC. DFC). Worked as a plantation manager prior to service.

Sgt. Stephen William George Bishop. Bourail Memorial, New Caledonia Panel 7. Born on the 23rd April 1917 at Wellington, the son of Robert Charles and Selina Catherine Bishop (née Cole), of Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a clerk for P and T Department.

F/O. Lister Charles Mulholland. Bourail Memorial, New Caledonia Panel 4. Born on the 13th December 1913 at Christchurch, the son of Charles Roland and Elizabeth Phoebe Mulholland (née Alyer) of Christchurch, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a clerk at Lands and Survey Department.

Sgt. Maxwell Herbert Walker. Bourail Memorial, New Caledonia Panel 8. Born on the 26th April 1919 at Methven, the son of William Herbert and Alice May Walker and husband of Isabel Rose Walker (née Langman), of Gonville, Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand. Worked as a telephone exchange clerk prior to service.

Sgt. William John Cornish. Bourail Memorial, New Caledonia Panel 7. Born on the 14th October 1919 at Runanga, the son of Percy Albert Cornish and of Elizabeth Cornish (née Low), of Kokiri, Westland, New Zealand. Worked as a taxi driver for Gold Band Taxis prior to service.

Fitter/Pax. AC1. Noel Louis Fowler . Bourail Memorial, New Caledonia Panel 9. Born on the 09th June 1921 at Stratford, the son of Clifford Egmont Fowler and of Lissa Muriel Fowler (née Shotter), of Stratford, Taranaki, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a cabinet maker for E.D. Evans Ltd.

LAC. James Bett Ferguson. Bourail Memorial, New Caledonia Panel 8. Born on the 30th July 1903 at Wellington, the son of Nicol and Isabella Campbell Ferguson (née Robb), of Murray's Bay, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service worked for himself as a motor mechanic.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire, also to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Adopt an Anzac Project, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 09.08.2019

KTY 18.09.2019 updated F/O. Lauchlan wife christian name

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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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