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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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8 Squadron (NZ) PV-I Ventura NZ4550 Fl/Sgt. Walter William Young

Operation: Patrol

Date: 04th December 1944 (Monday)

Unit: No. 8 Squadron (NZ) Bomber Reconnaissance

Type: PV-I Ventura

Serial: NZ4550

Code: -

Base: Nausori, Viti Levu, Fiji

Location: Funafali, Elice Istands

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Walter William Young NZ/432267 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

Nav: P/O. Jack Douglas Dungey NZ/4215237 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Francis Mcauliffe NZ/427288 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leonard Jack Bowick NZ/439323 RNZAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman John Heal NZ/436778 RNZAF Age 21. Killed


Returning from a patrol the crew were attempting to land at Funafuti, north of Fiji.

The aircraft had been carrying depth charges and some exploded on impact increasing the conflagration.

As the plane came into land at 16:49hrs, it was noticed by the ground crew to be coming in too fast. The plane hit the runway, bounced, and then bounced a second time and swerved dangerously towards the 70-foot tall palm trees to the left of the runway. Hoping to climb over the trees, the pilot gunned the engines. But it was too late - the plane smashed into the trees at around 35 feet, tore apart, and flipped upside down in a fireball of flame.

Above L-R: Fl/Sgt. Young, P/O. Dungey, Fl/Sgt. Mcauliffe, Sgt. Bowick and Sgt. Heal

A US Navy radioman on the ground, Thorsten Lundquist, was in the nearby mess hall when he heard the roar of the engines and the plane striking the trees. Rushing to the scene, he attempted to open what doors were not already engulfed in flames, but they were jammed. Hearing screams, he worked frantically to find an entry, crawling on his stomach to get underneath the upside-down fuselage. But the flames were too strong. Running for cover, Lundquist was knocked over as the depth charges exploded, totally destroying what remained of the wreckage. He was later awarded the Military Medal for his actions.

The subsequent enquiry found that the pilot was inexperienced and drifted towards the coconut trees after landing but that there was no negligence or lack of discipline. Of Fl/Sgt. Young the enquiry was told that he was 'quiet and unassuming but industrious and eager to learn. Is a good pilot but as a Captain qualities of leadership have yet to be developed. Flying assessment average all round but above average in instrument flying'.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Walter William Young. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Coll. grave 1A.1. Born on the 29th September 1917 in Shefferton, England. Employed as a tractor driver by Do. Hardy of Hastings until he entered the Army at Walouru In May 1942. He was engaged on crew training until in November 1944 when he was posted to No. 8 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron. He proceeded overseas shortly afterwards to Nausor in Fiji. A total of 399 flying hours logged with 124 on the Ventura.

Son of Walter Young and of Ethel Young (nee Rogerson), of Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Husband of Irene Nira Young, of 23 Chaucer Road, Napier New Zealand.

P/O. Jack Douglas Dungey. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Coll. grave 1A.1. Born on the l4th May 1920 in Dunedin. Educated at the Otago Boys' High School and King Edward Technical College, gaining his University Entrance and nine subjects towards Accountancy. He was not over-confident while flying Kittyhawks and requested a remuster to Air Navigation in January 1944. He was then posted to New Plymouth for a Navigators course and gained his Navigator's Badge in August 1944. Posted to No. & Squadron for flying duties on the 15th November 1944, and went overseas with that Squadron. A total of 577 flying hours logged.

Son of John (died 28th January 1967, age 72) and Lilian Lucy Dungey (née Sourdon - died 09th May 1994, age 97, Husband of Nancy Eileen Dungey (nee Whitty), of of 27 Young Street, St. Kilda, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. Ronald Francis Mcauliffe. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Coll. grave 1A.1. Born on the 02nd December 1921 in Featherston. Educated at Christchurch Technical College, which he left in August 1938 for a position with the South Island Herd Improvement Association in Christchurch, being employed as a Herd Recording officer. Joined No. 8 Squadron at Nausori, Fiji in Nevember 1944. A total of 455 flying hours logged.

Son of Peter McAuliffe (died 31st August 1970, age 89) and of Elizabeth Mona McAuliffe (née McLeod - died 24th April 1968, age 71), Husband of Sylvia McAuliffe, of Wainui, Canterbury, New Zealand.Sgt. Leonard Jack Bowick. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Coll. grave 1A.1. Born at Taihape on the 04th April 1924. Educated at Whangarei High School, and after leaving school, was employed as a grocer's assistant by Perkins and Son of Pukekohe. A total of 150 flying hours logged.

Son of Leonard Owen Bowick and Beryl Mary Jean Bowick (née Johnston - died 29th December 1937, age 33), of Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand.

Sgt. Norman John Heal. Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Coll. grave 1A.1. born at Stratford on the 17th of February 1923. Educated at New Plymouth Boys' High School and after leaving school was employed as a clerk by Newton King Ltd. Joined No. 8 Squadron in November 1944. A total of 160 flying hours logged,

Son of Ernest Norman (died 10th June 1970. age 72) and Ellen Harriet Heal (née Wesley - died 20th July 1968, age 69), of 74 Cleman Road, Fitzroy, Taranaki, New Zealand.

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, New Zealand Archives.

Other similar pages that may interest you:

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Pages detailing RNZAF losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 21-08-2023

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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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