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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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16 (RNZAF) Squadron P-40 Warhawk NZ3175 Fl/Lt. John Osbourne McFarlane

Operation: Sweep

Date: 17th December 1943 (Friday)

Unit: No. 16 (RNZAF) Squadron

Type: P-40 Warhawk

Serial: NZ3175 (1)

Code: 65

Base: Ondonga, New Georgia, Solomon Islands

Location: Mt. Turanguna near Rabaul

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Osbourne McFarlane NZ/402881 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed


After refuelling at Torokino at Bouganville and then taking off at 09:00 hrs leading 24 aircraft from 14 and 16 Squadron which arrived over Rabaul at 10:30 hrs. They were joined by 22 US Navy Hellcats and 31 US Marine Corp F4U Corsairs. Over Rabaul, the squadron engaged in air combat with Zeros and encountered anti-aircraft fire.

Over the target, McFarlane was flying as wingman for element leader Ft/Lt. Mortimer Tuke Vanderpump NZ/40994 RNZAF (3) who dove into eight Zekes above shipping in the harbor. Vanderpump shot down a Zeke, then chases a Zeke attacking McFarlane, both escaping by diving through intense anti-aircraft over Rabaul, McFarlane was hit and crashed near Praed Point.

Also lost on this operation W/Cdr. Trevor Owen Freeman DSO. DFC and bar. NZ/1026 with 16 Squadron. Believed to have been shot down near Hunter Point, New Ireland flying NZ3153 - 65. F/O. Patrick Arthur Bull NZ/412653 (2) flying NZ3151 - 55 was hit twice by enemy fighters but managed to return safely to Torokina, but was ordered to crash land his Warhawk on the beach as he could not lower his undercarriage. Pilot safe, aircraft later struck off charge the following year.

Above as described, Mt. Turanguna is shown centre left

Pacific Wrecks website state the following:

'In fact, McFarlane likely collided with A6M Zero piloted by Seaman Masajiro Kawato (4) from 253 Kōkūtai (253 Air Group). Both pilots managed to bail out and were rescued by a Japanese patrol boat. McFarlane became a Prisoner Of War but did not survive captivity until the end of the Pacific War and remains listed as Missing In Action'..

Above L-R: Fl/Lt. John Osbourne McFarlane, W/Cdr. Trevor Owen Freeman, F/O. Patrick Arthur Bull, Ft/Lt. Mortimer Tuke Vanderpump and Masajiro Kawato.

(1) Aircraft History:
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Constructor Number 28779. U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40N-5-CU Warhawk serial number 42-105017. Disassembled and shipped overseas to New Zealand as part of defence aid. Assigned to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as P-40N Kittyhawk IV serial number NZ3175. On August 16, 1943 reassembled by No.1 Aircraft Depot and BOC at Hobsonville Airfield. Assigned to No. 16 Squadron coded 65. No known nickname or nose art.

(2) F/O. Patrick Arthur Bull NZ/41265. Awarded commission on the 18th October 1941. Promoted to F/O. 18th October, 1942. Born on the 11th February 1919. Husband of Alma Ruby Bull (passed away on the 13th August 2009, age 84). Patrick Bull passed away on the 03rd September 1994, age 75.

Above as described (Courtesy Wings Over New Zealand Forum)

Patrick had an earlier lucky escape whilst with No. 2 Operational Training Unit after forced landing NZ3038 on the beach near Manakau, Wellington. The engine, starved of fuel, caught fire in the air due to a broken connecting rod which broke the sump, on the 13th October 1943.

(3) Sq/Ldr. Mortimer Tuke Vanderpump DFC. DFC(US) Born on the 14th May 1920. Husband of Betty Margaret Vanderpump (née Signall, later Jacobsen - died 08th April 2011, age 90, at Maygrove Village Hospital, Orewa.) Killed on the 02nd April 1955, age 34 at Putorino, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand in an aircraft accident. Further details here.

(4) Masajiro 'Mike”'Kawato. Born on the 19th September 1925 in Kyoto, Japan. He volunteered for fighter pilot school in 1941 at the incredible age of 16. He became a Zero pilot and ace who was credited with 19 kills and suffered 17 wounds as a Japanese Naval aviator in WW2. Passed away on the 17th December 2001, age 76 in Washington USA..

Above: Ondonga, New Georgia, Solomon Islands (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Burial and further details:

Fl/Lt. John Osbourne McFarlane. Bourail Memorial. Panel 3. Born at Auckland on the 16th December, 1920, John McFarlane received his secondary education at the Otago Boys' High School, where he gained his University Entrance, School Certificate and Higher Leaving Certificate. He later attended classes at the Dunedin Art School. He was interested in rugby, hockey and tennis.
At the time of his application for aircrew training - on the 6th August, 1939 - he was employed by Messrs. Mandeno and Fraser, Dunedin, as an architect. Prior to his enlistment he served for a period in the Territorials with the 12th Field Battery, from June, 1939 onwards.
F/Lt. McFarlane entered camp on the 0lst September, 1940, reporting at the Ground Training School, Levin. Late the same month he proceeded to No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School, Taieri, for training as a pilot.
On the 23rd November, 1940, he was posted to No. 1 Flying Training School, Wigram, where he was awarded his flying badge on the 16th January, 1941.
On the 0lst March, 1941, he was commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer, and twelve months later promoted to Flying Officer. Early in October, 1943, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. On the 15th March, 1941, F/It. McFarlane was posted to the Flying Instructor's School, Hobsonville, for a course.

On the completion of the course late in April he proceeded to No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School, Taieri for duty as a Flying instructor.
Late in July, 1941, he was posted to No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School, New Plymouth, where he carried out similar duties.
On the 26th October, 1942, he proceeded to the General Reconnaissance School, New Plymouth for a course, and on its completion - on the 18th December, 1942 - he was posted to No. 7 (General Reconnaissance) Squadron, Waipapakauri.
From Waipapakauri, during the next six months, he flew Vildebeeste, Vincent and Harvard aircraft on general flying dutiest He also carried out several anti-submarine patrols.
On the 9th June, 1943, Fl/Lt. McFarlane was posted to No. 30 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron, Gisborne, for flying duties. Late in September he proceeded to No. 2 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit, Chakea, for operational training on Harvard and Kittyhawk aircraft.
On the completion of the course - on the 18th October, 1943 - he was posted to No. 16 (Fighter) Squadron, Fairhall, Woodbourne•
Nearly a week later he was attached to Whenuapai before proceeding overseas - on the 03rd November, 1943 - with No. 16 squadron, to Espiritu Santo, in the New Hebrides.
On the 25th November, 1943, F/It. McFarlane proceeded with the Squadron to Ondonga, New Georgia, calling at Guadalcanal on the way.
From Ondonga he carried out offensive patrols, including sweeps over Impress Augusta Bay, and Matchin Bay, Bougainville. A total of 1,996 flying hours recorded in his log books.

Son of Herbert Osborne McFarlane (died 21st October 1951, age 70) and Fanny Cathcart McFarlane (née Coote - died 01st January 1963, age 82), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.

Note: The CWGC incorrectly spells his middle name as 'Osborne'.

The parents of Fl/Lt. McFarlane lost all four sons during the war:

24 year old, LAC. Maurice Francis McFarlne NZ/391840 RNZAF killed on the 15th June 1940 in an Airspeed Oxford NZ279 during a training accident, Both crew lost theirm lives whilst with 1 Service Flying Training School.

23 year old. Fl/Lt. John Osbourne McFarlane NZ/402881 RNZAF missing - believed killed on the 17th December 1943 in Warhawk NZ3175 whilst with 16 squadron.

25 year old, F/O. Laurence Herbert McFarlane 39545 RAF killed on the 02nd July 1940 in Whitley V N1461 whilst with 58 squadron. Four crew killed, one PoW.

23 year old, 2nd Lt. Donald Forrester McFarlane 2475 5 Field Park Company, New Zealand Engineers killed during the Libyan campaign on the 03rd December 1941..

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”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, Pacific Wrecks. Wings Over New Zealand Forum.

KTY 07-06-2024

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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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