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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 (NZ) Squadron Corsair F4U-1D P/O. Ernest Charles Laurie DFM

Operation: Test Flight

Date: 30th April 1944 (Sunday

Unit: No. 16 (NZ) Squadron

Type: Corsair F4U-1D

Serial: USMC - No data

Code: -

Base: Torokina, Bougainville, Solomon Islands)

Location: Solomon Sea

Pilot: P/O. Ernest Charles Laurie DFM NZ/42417 RNZAF Age 20. Killed


After becoming airborne at 08:45 the pilot apparently throttled back, ded down again, then reapplied power in an attempt to continue the take-off, but stalled and spun into the sea 50 yards from the end of the runway. He was buried in the August Bay American War Cemetery but transferred to the Australian War Cemetery before final interment at Bourail, New Caledonia.

The Corsair's full ownership, type and serial details have not been identified.

Above left: P/O. Ernest Charles Laurie DFM. Right L-R Rear: F/O. Keith Walter Starnes NZ/413141 ✞, P/O. Erniet Charles Laurie NZ/42417 ✞, P/O. David Keith Mulligan NZ42441.
Front; Fl/Lt. Mervyn Charles Pryce Jones NZ/402873, Sq/Ldr. Allan Gerald Sievers NZ/391848, Fl/Lt. Allan Gabriel Mitchell NZ/413452. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Burial and other details:

P/O. Ernest Charles Laurie DFM. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery Grave 8.6. Born on the 06th October 1923 in Auckland. Enlisted on the 11th January 1942 at Levin. Wings awarded on the 27th July 1942 with promotion to sergeant on the 17th October 1942. Commissioned on the 01st February 1944. Joined 16 squadron at Woodbourne. in May 1943. Son of Charles Trevor Gordon Laurie and of Florence Louisa Laurie (nee Goodhew - died 20th May 1992 age 87), of 3 Cintra Flats, Symonds Street, Auckland. Stepson of Arthur Frederick Smith. A total of 79 operational sorties flown.

DFM Citation - 24th February 1944:

'On December 17th 1943, Flight Sergeant Laurie took part in a fighter sweep over Rabaul, an operation which involved flying a single-engined fighter aircraft over 240 miles of open sea, and on arrival engaging superior numbers of the enemy over hostile territory.

His section attacked a greatly superior force of Zeros over their own airfield at a height of a few hundred feet. During this action he destroyed one Zero for certain. Later in the engagement he observed the leader of his formation to be in difficulties and under attack by 9 enemy aircraft. Although his own aircraft had been hit by a cannon shell and damaged, he stood by his leader until he was attacked himself and forced to take evasive action'.
After throwing off the attack he returned alone to assist his leader in spite of the presence of the enemy in vastly superior numbers.
The courage and determination displayed by Flight Sergeant Laurie on this occasion are typical of the standard set by him at all times during his 187 hours of operational flying, involving 61 operations against the enemy. In addition, he has proved himself to be a reliable and resourceful leader and a courageous fighter pilot.'

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, Wings Over New Zealand.

Above: RNZAF at Bougainville, Solomon Islands. (Courtesy Pacific Film Unit Pathe News)

Other pages that may interest you:

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Pages detailing RNZAF

KTY 29-02-1944

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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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