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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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1 Squadron (NZ) PV-I Ventura NZ4561 P/O. George Trevor Parker

Operation: Training

Date: 05th October 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 1 Squadron (NZ) (motto: 'With Vigilance We Serve')

Type: PV-I Ventura

Serial: NZ4561

Code: -

Base: Henderson Field, Guadalcanal

Location: Solomon Sea

Pilot: P/O. George Trevor Parker NZ/424508 RNZAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed

Nav: P/O. Thomas Helier Vautier NZ/421364 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leo James Comeskey NZ/428082 RNZAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Barry Rosenberg NZ/434680 RNZAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Roy Smith NZ/436695 RNZAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed


N24361 took off at 08:41 with one other for an anti-submarine exercise, but at 1000 feet at 09:35 hrs. advised accompanying Ventura (NZ4612) that it was turning back with a defective port engine. Jettisoned fuel while flying loose formation with NZ4612 but could not maintain height, being forced down to 200 feet by 09:56. Preparing to ditch, but stalled and dived into the sea off a reef on the north coast of Olevuga Island immediately west of Florida Island.

Above L-R: P/O. George Parker, P/O. Thomas Vautier, Fl/Sgt. Leo Comeskey, Sgt. Barry Rosenberg and Sgt. Leslie Smith (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

The navigator's body was recovered by an RNZAF Catalina and buried on the 06th in the Allied Military Cemetery on Guadalcanal. He was later reinterred at Bourail, New Caledonia, Wish missing comrades are commemorated on the Bourail Memorial.

Above as described (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Burial details:

P/O. George Trevor Parker. Bourail Memorial. Panel 5. Born in Auckland on the 25th June 1915. Educated at the Aucklan Grammar School. Enlisted at Rotorua on the 02nd May 1942. Awarded his wings on the 29th December 1943 and promoted to sergeant on the 06th March 1943. Joined 1 squadron on the 15th August 1944.

Son of George William and Ivy Moana Parker (née Beazley - died 07th April 1966, age 73), of Auckland City, New Zealand. Husband of Jessie Elizabeth Armit Parker (/née Forbe), of 19 Grange Road, Mount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 505 flying hours logged with 171 on the Ventura..

P/O. Thomas Helier Vautier. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave B.26. Born in Napier on the 31st December 1920. Educated at Wellington College. Enlisted at Nelson in October 1942. Awarded his navigator badge on the 29th March 1944. Joined 1 squadron in July 1944.

Son of Thomas Philip (died 14th March 1932, age 65) and Florence Vautier (née Russell - died 08th October 1973, age 94), of 18 Mayfair Flats, The Terrace, Wellington City, New Zealand. A total of 300 flying hours logged.

Fl/Sgt. Leo James Comeskey Bourail Memorial. Panel 6. Born in Upper Hutt on the 25th June 1920. Educated at St. Patrick's College Silverstream. Enlisted on the 11th July 1942 at New Plymouth. Trained in New Zealand and Canada. Awarded his air gunner badge on the 11th November 1943 and promoted to sergeant. Joined 1 squadron in July 1944.

Son of Patrick Bernard (died 1943, age 58) and Gladys Elizabeth Comeskey (née Cudby - died 1979, age 83), of Henry Street, Upper Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 316 flying hours logged.

Sgt. Barry Rosenberg. Bourail Memorial. Panel 8. Born on the 22nd December 1924 in Hastings. Educated at the Havelock North School, Hastings High School. Awarded his Air Gunner's Badge on 13th May, 1944 and promoted to sergeant. Joined 1 squadron in July 1944.

Son of James Rosenberg (died 1937), and of Dorothy Rosenberg, of Joll Road, Havelock, Marlborough, New Zealand. A total of 180 flying hours logged.

Sgt. Leslie Roy Smith. Bourail Memorial. Panel 8. Also remembered on family grave in Hastings Cemetery and Crematorium. Born in Featherston on the 11th September 1924. Educated at Featherston District High School. Awarded his Air Gunner's Badge on 13th May, 1944 and promoted to sergeant. Joined 1 squadron in July 1944.

Son of Leslie Francis Bishop Smith (died 25th August 1979, age 82) and of Mary Gladys Smith (nee Donaldson - died 23rd August 1979, age 83), of Otaki, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 176 flying hours logged.

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.

Other pages that may interest you:

Pages regarding accident losses

Pages detailing RNZAF losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 17-09-2023

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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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