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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 Squadron (NZ) PV-1 Ventura NZ4607 W/Cdr. Andrew Frederick Henderson Tye

Operation: Medium-level strike

Date: 01st July 1945 (Sunday)

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

Type: PV-1 Ventura

Serial: NZ4607

MSN: 6205

Base: RNZAF Emirau

Location: At airfield

Pilot: W/Cdr. Andrew Frederick Henderson Tye 391852 RNZAF Age 24. Seriously injured

Nav: Fl/Lt. Alexander John Knox Baxter 638005 RNZAF Age 33. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Lt. Arthur Henry Lambie 413761 RNZAF Age 26. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Brian Desmond Joseph Welch 41719 RNZAF Age 26. Survived

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William John Henry Torkington 4210014 RNZAF Age 21. Seriously injured


NZ4607 captained by the Squadron's commanding officer, who was leading eight others on it strike, swung to port taking off along the left-hand edge of the airstrip at 07:07, and swung sharply towards a centre on being overcorrected.

Climbed away under full power at a steep angle to 30 feet, stalled and crashed, tail and port wingtip striking a bank at the side of the strip. Two of the crew died in the crash, while the captain and one of the air gunners died of their injuries the same day at US Navy hospital 'Acorn 7', the air gunner at 16:00hrs.

Suffering only slight injuries was air gunner F/O. Welch, this reportedly being the third occasion which he was the sole survivor of a crash. Those who died were flown to Bougainville by C-47 and buried in the Australian War Cemetery at Torokina, but later reinterred at Bourail, New Caledonia.

Burial and other details:

W/Cdr. Andrew Frederick Henderson Tye. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave 5.3. Born on the 19th April 1921 in Dunedin. Educated at Otago Boys' High School, Worked as a clerk for New Zealand Government Railways. In 1938 when he applied for enrolment in the Civil Reserve of Pilots. His application was accepted on the 6th June 1939. He was enlisted at the Initial Training Wing, Levin, on the 17th December, 1939, and on completion of his Ground Training Course, proceeded to No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School, Taieri, to commence his elementary flying training, then on the 11th March, 1940, to No. 1 Flying Training School, Wigram. While at this Unit he was awarded the Flying Badge and appointed to the rank of Pilot Officer, on the 28th June 1940. He was further promoted to Flying Officer one year later while serving overseas, to Flight Lieutenant on the 28th June 1942, to Squadron Leader on the 1st February, 1944 and to Wing Commander on the 12th March 1945.

Meanwhile he had embarked on the 'Rangitane' on the 12th July, 1940 for the United Kingdom. Wing Commander Tye arrived at No. 1 Depot, Uxbridge, Middlesex on the 27th August, remaining there until the 7th September, when he proceeded to No. 1 General Reconnaissance School. Squires Gate, Lancashire, then on the 30th November, to No. 1 Operational Training Unit, Silloth, Cumberland for crewing up prior to joining No. 269 Squadron (Coastal Command), wick, Scotland, on the 24th February, 1941. With this Squadron he flew Hudson aircraft, and in May moved with the Squadron to Iceland, carrying out numerous patrol and reconnaissance flights. The Squadron returned to Wick in August, and on 02nd January, 1942, was again stationed at Reykjavik, Iceland, remaining there until October. In these months Wing Commander Tye carried out numerous operational flights including photographic reconnaissance flights, and patrols. In November, 1942, Wing Commaner Tye was repatriated to New Zealand for duty disembarking on the 13th December, and proceeding to New Plymouth on the 30th of the month.

He was then posted on the 10th January, 1943 as Flying Instructor to Ohakea. He remained there until the 18th May when he joined No. 40 Squadron, Whenuapai, as Officer Commanding No. 2 Flight, carrying out numerous flights to the Pacific, and on the 21st August, 1944, was appointed Flight Commander of No. 41 Squadron, Whenuapai. With this Squadron he continued flying in the Pacific, and on the 12th March, 1945 he was appointed Officer Commanding No. 4 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron, Whenuapai. With the Squadron he embarked for the Pacific on the 18th May, being stationed at Emirau Island and from this base as pilot of Ventura air-craft, he carried out ten operational flights, including dusk patrols, air-sea sweeps and bombing raids on Rabaul, Panapai and Tobera.

Son of George Frederick (died 22nd July 1964, age 68) and Agnes Patterson Henderson Tye (died 28th March 1956, age 68), of 115 Clyde Street, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.

Fl/Lt. Alexander John Knox Baxter. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave 5.7. Born on the 05 October 1911 in Auckland. Educated at Kowhai Junior High School. Worked as a Preventive Officer in the Customs Department at Auckland. Enlisted in the Auckland General Reconnaissance Squadron before the war, and mobilised on the 4th September 1939 at Hobsonville moving with the squadron to Whenuapai in March 1940.

He was promoted to Corporal on the 01st May 1940, to Sergeant on the 01st December 1941; commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer on the 01st December 1942, promoted to Flying Officer on the 01st February 1943, and while overseas further promoted to Flight Lieutenant on the 01st August 1944. Meanwhile he continued to serve at Whenuapai, first as Air Gunner, until being awarded the air Observer badge on the 01st December 1941. He embarked with No. 4 Squadron for Pacific service on the 10th

May 1943, and returned to New Zealand on the 16th February 1944. After a period of leave, he joined No. 3 squadron on the 15th March, serving with this Squadron in New Zealand until again proceeding overseas on posting to No. 4 Squadron as squadron Navigation Leader on the 24th May 1945.

Son of David and Florence Baxter (née Mullins - died 1969, age 82), of Auckland City, New Zealand. Husband of Zita Mary Baxter (née Berg later O'Donnell), of 316 New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland City, New Zealand

Fl/Lt. Arthur Henry Lambie. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave 5.6. Born on the 21st March 1919 in Leeston. Educated at Southbridge District High School. Employed by the National Mortgage Co. of Christchurch, and also served in the Territorials for a year. He applied for Air Crew enlistment in March 1940 and was selected as an Air Gunner. After ground training, he embarked for Canada and was posted to No. 3 Wireless School at Winnipeg in November 1941. From there he passed on to No. 7 Bombing and Gunnery School at Paulson, Manitoba and became a qualified Wireless Operator Air Gunner on the February 12th 1942. Commissioned as Pilot officer on the 16th March 1942.

He crossed to the United Kingdom in May, but was selected with a special batch of trained men to return to NZ and was posted as a ReconnaissanceFlying Officer to No. 2 General Reserve Squadron at Nelson in October 1942. There he was Wireless Operator Air Gunner in Hudson aircraft captained by Flying Officer Robert Clifford Barclay, and after general patrols and operations they went forward to the Pacific with No. 4 Squadron in April 1943. Serving at Nausori, and Espiritu Santo, they carried out patrols and bombing in these areas until October, when they returned to Whenuapai and joined No. 40 Squadron.

From December 1943 until March 1945, F/O. Lambie was Wireless Operator in Hudson, Dakota and Lodestar aircraft, captained and piloted by Fl/Lt. Robert Clifford Barclay, which carried island mails continuously between Whenuapai, Santos, Guadalcanal, Emirau, Tontouta, Norfolk, Funafuti and Nausori, to New Zealand troops and units. By April 1945, when he became a Flight Lieutenant, Arthur Lambie had flown 1837 hours as Wireless Operator. In June 1945 he went to Imirau as Squadron Signals Leader to No. 4 squadron.

Son of Robert Drummond Lambie (died 20th April 1968, age 89) and of Christina Theresa Lambie (née Thian - died 15th June 1968, age 83), of Lakeside, Leeston, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. William John Henry Torkington. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Grave 5.1. Born on the 27th March 1924 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Educated at the Miramar South Primary School. He was employed by I.W, Dear Ltd. of Wellington and then the Self-Help Co-op as a grocer's assistant. He applied for aircrew training in March 1942 while a member of the Wellington wing of the Air Training Corps. He entered camp in August 1942 after having served for 16 months in the Air Training Corps.

Reported at Seagrove. After passing through the Ground Training School, Whenuapal he was posted to the Initial Training Wing, Rotorua In June, 1943. In December he commenced training as an air gunner at No. 1 (Bomber) Operational Training Unit, Ohakea and was awarded his air gunner's badge and promoted to Sergeant in January 1944. On the 31st January he was posted to No. 3 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, but returned to No. 1 (Bomber) Operational Training Unit in February for operational training.

On 25th April he proceeded overseas to No. 4 (General Reconnaissance) Squadron at Nausori, Fiji. For the next three months he was engaged on anti-submarine patrols. 1944. he was promoted to Flight Sergeant on the 28th July,

On 20th August he was a member of the crew of a Hudson which, in the company of six other aircraft was on a transit flight from Fiji to Whenuapad. Two of the aircraft were reported missing and he took part in the search for them. He returned to Fiji in September, He was engaged on further anti-submarine patrols and combat training until in November he moved with the Squadron to Emirau.

This was the first NZ Squadron to operate from that island. For the next three months he took part in bombing raids on Japanese installations on New Ireland, and New Britain. In February 1945 he returned with the Squadron to New Zealand, After a period of operational training in NZ he returned overseas with the Squadron to Guadalcanal on the 25th May, 1945. He was engaged on training exercises until in July he again proceeded with the Squadron to Emirau,

Son of William Francis and Nancy Gertrude Torkington, of 8 Bruges Avenue, Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand.

F/O. Brian Desmond Joseph Welch 41719 RNZAF. Survived. Born on the 05th May 1919 in Wellington. He embarked on the 'Awatea'. He trained at the Royal Canadian Air Force No. 3 Wireless School, Winnipeg, Manitoba on Course 1: Class 21. He graduated on the 13th April 1942. He then trained at the RCAF, 3 Bombing and Gunnery School, MacDonald, Manitoba and the RCAF, 1 Air Observer School, Malton, Ontario. After his training in Canada, he went to England. He joined 11 Operational training Unit in Bassingbourne and No.1483 (B) Gunnery Flight, flying as a tail gunner in Stirling and Lancaster bombers. On the 18th May 1943 he served as an Air Gunner. He married Valerie Isabelle Davison, who he had met in London during leave, on the 31st October 1943, and the marriage was registered at Hendon, Middlesex, England. They had one child.

On the 18th November 1943 promoted from Pilot Officer to Flying Officer. After flying 194 hours on operations over Europe, including raids on Berlin, Essen, Nuremburg, Cologne, Hannover, Wilhelmshaven, Manheim, Wuppertal, Stuttgart, Lorient and St Nazaire, Brian was transferred back to New Zealand as a gunnery instructor. Then he went to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Island for operations against the Japanese. He made raids on Japanese supply dumps and gun positions on New Ireland, Emirau and Panapai. He also carried out anti-submarine patrols.

On the 18th May 1945 he was promoted from Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant. He returned to New Zealand on the 14th July 1945. After the war he was a clerk and his father a hotel keeper. He went back to England on the 'Rimutaka' leaving from Auckland and arriving on the 22nd February 1949 at Southampton. He was not accompanied by his wife and his occupation was given as P.C.R.A.F. He and his child Anthony returned from London on the 'Rangitane' on the 08th November 1952. He was listed as in the RAF and aged 32. He later became Senior Staff Welfare Officer with the Royal Hong Kong Police Force. He divorced his wife in 1964 at the Wellington High Court. He married for the second time in Hong Kong in 1976.

He was living at Paeroa Road, Te Aroha at the time of his final illness. Brian died on the 30th January 1989 at Greenlane Hospital, Auckland. He was buried in Te Aroha Cemetery, Waikato, Soldier's Lawn, Block RSA, Row 6, Plot 189.

Son of Desmond Ryan Welch (died 04th March 1962, age 67) and Catherine Josephine (née Jameson - died 08th December 1976, age 83) Welch. Brother of Betty Catherine Welch (later O'Brien - died 05th March 1993, age 71 in Australia)

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.

Other pages that may interest you:

Pages regarding accidents
Pages detailing RNZAF losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 24-08-2023

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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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