Strictly speaking i guess this posting should of been placed in the Naval section of this site, if anyone agrees strongly with this i'll move it. My question is, how many aircrew served on board HMS Achilles at any one time flying it's single Walrus?? Thanks in advance, Kerry
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 29, 2009 11:14:16 GMT 12
I knew a member of No. 700 Squadron aboard HMNZS Achilles, Eric Ford, and he told me there was just the one aircrew (pilot, naviagtor and air gunner from memory). There were only a few RNZAF mechanics attached too.
I met the founder & editor of the Low Blower & Octopus 8 a couple of years ago on a visit back to NZ. When interveiwed, annoyingly he couldn't remember how many issues were printed of each. When i have time i'll dig out my copy of CC & let you know what issue it is. K
Last Edit: Dec 30, 2009 11:42:43 GMT 12 by wanganui
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 30, 2009 13:10:36 GMT 12
Thanks. There were definately only two of Low Blower, as the war ended and the tour was cut short. The first staes its is the inaugral one, and the second was the last as the squadron returned home and broke up. I know of several sets and they're always in pairs.
I have been only able to trace Octopus 8 to a release on 1 Feb 1945 and that is marked as Volume I. I do not believe there was a Volume II. I guess it's possible there's another volume but the squadron ended its tour in March 1945, so it's not likely.
I have had check and realised I don't have any copies of the Corsair Courier, I was thinking of the Kiwi Courier, another RNZAF Pacific news sheet
And that No. 700 Squadron served aboard HMS Manchester, HMS Norfolk, HMS Devonshire at varying times and places in the war but HMS/HMNZS Achilles is not mentioned in connection with the squadron. Yet they were abaord Achilles in 1941-42.
Hi Dave, I covered the Walrus and No.700 Captapult Flight in the "Golden Age of New Zealand Flying Boats" A few things to note it was a "Flight" not a squadron! The Walrus were deployed on Achilles and Leander until mid 1942 when the Catapults were removed. The normal complement for the aboard crew was one pilot, a wireless operator/crewman and supported by two RNZAF Technicians. one engines one airframe.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jan 5, 2010 8:16:11 GMT 12
Yes, you'd hardly call it a squadron, despite what their Chrismas card said on the front. So eric would have been one of the last members. I recently interviewed Fred Hall who was the Air Gunner from the Walrus aboard Leander in the early part of the war too.
I need to track down a copy of your book someday Paul. I know it's an awesome book but I've somehow never been able to add it to my collection.
After reading through this thread, I am convinced that we still have not really got to the heart of the matter, but we are getting closer. I have checked up on my notes on the Walrus amphibians operated by the New Zealand Division of the RN, No. 720 (Catapult) Flight (and actually a sub-unit rather than a fully fledged unit as already hinted by previous posters.) However it has to be said that the administration of this Flight had one of the most convoluted and confusing chains of command of just about any naval/military unit that I have ever come across, and Board members here might be surprised just how many sections of the British armed forces were involved in this, and how few within these great and very experienced services seemed to know what was actually happening, or who was responsible for what. No doubt this was partially caused by the very name of the NZ Division (officially the “New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy” despite fact that it was actually a part of the “New Zealand Naval Forces”, which consisted of “the Division”, the Reserve and the Volunteer Reserve, and was entirely funded by the NZ taxpayer. This title has, and continues to cause, great confusion to just about everybody who comes across it. I recommend that everybody with an interest in this subject should read “Blue Water Rationale” or carefully study all the Annual Reports of the NZ Naval Forces for the first 28 years of its existence, 1913 to 1941. It is also worth mentioning that yet another British Service was involved in the NZ Division, this being the Royal Marines. A small group of these gentlemen was included in the complement of each cruiser to provide the gun crews for the two after turrets (as was usual on all RN capital ships as well as cruisers for at least the first half of the 29th century), but that is quite another story which won’t be mentioned again by me at least!
My source for this explanation is a minute penned by the NZ Naval Secretary in Wellington, a Mr E L Tottenham, dated 27th August 1937, and apparently intended to inform the NZ Naval Board on the question of the administration of No. 720 (C) Flight, which seemed to him to be a complete shambles from the start. It would appear to be his attempt to bring this administration under proper control for the first time, and to simplify the whole confused structure. He deserves a medal for his exertions, as the problem was indeed very knotty. The notes below are repeated verbatim.
1) When H.M Ships “ACHILLES” and “LEANDER” were transferred to the control of the New Zealand Government, they carried with them as part of their Fleet Air Arm equipment No. 720 (Catapult) Flight.
2) It was realized that as soon as the ships were transferred this Flight would also be transferred and it was decided to approach the General Officer Commanding (head of NZ Military Forces at this time) with a request that his department would be entirely responsible for providing personnel, stores, equipment and maintenance services on the basis of reimbursement from Naval Defence Funds. It was not possible to arrive at any very definite arrangement, though it was agreed in principal that the Flight should be manned by New Zealand personnel and that repair and storage facilities would be provided at Hobsonville.
3) HMS “ACHILLES” arrived in New Zealand waters in August 1936. Close relations were established at once with Hobsonville. Approval was given to store the necessary maintenance stores at the Naval Base.
4) Later in the year the Government announced that it proposed to adopt a new Air Policy. Until the new Air organisation was sufficiently far advanced the Naval Board had no alternative but to permit the Naval authorities directly responsible for the Fleet Air Arm to regard themselves, for purposes of administration and advice, as bound in a great measure by Admiralty and Air Ministry instructions. In particular no objection was taken to the receipt and despatch of messages and directions from and to the Air Officer Commanding in Chief the Coastal Area in England.
5) In order to avoid confusion a letter was addressed to the Admiralty asking them to concur in a proposal to keep open a direct channel of communication for such matters as defects and modifications required in aircraft. The actual suggestion was made that all messages should be addressed to the Naval Board, Wellington, repeated to Commodore Commanding, “ACHILLES” and/or “LEANDER” from the Admiralty. Replies should be addressed direct to the Admiralty and repeated to the Naval Board and Commodore Commanding. No reply was received.
6) In a report dated 20th June the Commodore Commanding informed the Naval Board that the Air Officer Commanding Far East Command had been in direct communication with him on matters connected with the Fleet Air Arm. On receipt of this information a letter was addressed to the High Commissioner, pointing out that the Catapult Flight No. 720 was transferred to the New Zealand Naval Forces and requesting him to inform Air Ministry that the procedure followed by the Air Officer Commanding Far East Command was irregular. Shortly afterwards an Air Ministry Weekly Order No. 452 was received which stated that the administration of No. 720 Flight was transferred from Coastal Command to Far East Command, to take effect on the 1st June 1937. Evidently the Air Council have not appreciated that the Fleet Air Arm Flight in the New Zealand Division is transferred to the New Zealand Government.
7) To clear up the position, it was decided to ask the Air Board whether they were in a position to undertake the administration of the New Zealand Fleet Air Arm. A reply has been received in the affirmative (see enclosures 1 and 2).
8) Another report has been received from the Commodore Commanding dealing with the maintenance and training of the Fleet Air Arm, (Copy attached). It also has been referred to the Air Board for their remarks.
9) It is clear that the time has arrived to consider future policy. As that policy must be bound up with administration it is suggested that the Board should now consider the following points:- (a) Has No. 720 Flight been transferred to the control of the New Zealand Government as part of the equipment of the cruisers. (b) It is desirable to transfer the administration of the Flight to the New Zealand Air Board, having due regard to:- (i) The necessity for rapid communication with the central authority at home to ensure that up-to-date technical information and advice may always be immediately available. (ii) Some uncertainty regarding this central authority in view of the projected transfer of the Fleet Air Arm from the Air Ministry to the Admiralty. (iii) General administrative convenience. (c) It is desirable to transfer the responsibility for the maintenance of the Flight to the New Zealand Air Force authority at Hobsonville in accordance with paragraph 9 of Achilles No. 4775/138/2 dated 5th July 1937. (d) Is any further communication to the Admiralty or Air Ministry required at present, e.g. (i) Announcement of policy. (ii) Request to cancel AMWO 452/37. (iii) Request for information regarding the future of the Fleet Air Arm at home.
David Duxbury back in here again in 2012, no longer the Naval Secretary in 1937. By way of explanation for much of the above administrative nightmare, it should be noted that the following major organisational changes were underway during this period, more or less simultaneously in New Zealand and the UK. 1) The RNZAF was in the process of being transferred to the control of a new Government department known as Air Department, a result of the visit of Wing Commander the Hon Ralph Cochrane, RAF. Previously the RNZAF was an integral part of the New Zealand Military Forces, nominally under the command of the General Officer Commanding. As alluded to above, Air Department did not even exist when the first cruiser arrived on the New Zealand Station, and as a department it was barely functional through much of 1937. This was why the Naval Secretary had to struggle to bring the NZ FAA under proper control before requesting that the Air Secretary assume control of the NZ FAA and relieve him of this irksome responsibility Including all major maintenance and technical issues), leaving the Navy to simply operate the aircraft and get on with it. 2) The Royal Air Force was changing over its whole command structure in the “Home” establishment, from the former “Coastal” and “Inland” areas to a new command structure, with Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands taking over control of distinct parts of the metropolitan RAF. 3) The Fleet Air Arm, originally formed as a distinct part of the Royal Air Force, was gradually being wrested away from its former management, and finally came to rest in the arms of the Admiralty in 1939, as noted above. 4) The mistaken allocation of the administration of the NZ FAA to the AOC Far East Command further upset arrangements, and it seems as though the RAF had no idea that the Admiralty had handed over the two cruisers carrying the Walruses to the tender care of another sovereign government! To them 720 Flight must have appeared to be simply another Catapult Flight operating in “their patch”, and fact that the ships were still prefixed “HMS” would have confirmed this idea in their minds. This was of course not corrected until the NZ Prime Minister (Peter Fraser, on a trip to the “old country” in mid-1941) thought to ask HM King George VI to grant the honour of re-designating the NZ Division as the Royal NZ Navy, which also entitled these ships to carry the HMNZS “designator” (pardon my non-naval term here!)
FURTHER NOTES ON HISTORY OF 720 (CATAPULT) FLIGHT. 15th July 1936; Aircraft carried on the ships of the NZ Naval Forces become No. 720 (C) Flight. 1st June 1937; Administration of the Flight transferred from Coastal Command (RAF) to Far East Command. 6th October 1937; No. 720 (Catapult) Flight transferred to control of the NZ Government (possibly NZ Air Board?), although ultimately decided to leave it with the NZ Naval Board. 23rd May 1939; No. 720 (Catapult) Flight redesignated as No. 720 (Catapult) Squadron.
I see from my “British Naval Aircraft since 1912” by Owen Thetford (Putnam, 1982 edition) that all the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Catapult Squadrons then in existence (of which 720 was but one, although it was really a “special case”) were administratively combined into No. 700 (Catapult) Squadron, with a strength of 42 Walruses, 11 Seafoxes and 12 Swordfish, so with 65 aircraft on strength it was quite a large and rambling sort of unit, and unusual in that its constituent parts never saw much, if anything of any of the other parts.
Another detail which corrects previously published information on the New Zealand Walrus is that the NZ cruisers (well, Achilles at least) continued to operate Walrus aircraft until at least September 1942 rather then earlier that year, as confirmed by details from an accident report, as follows: HMNZS ACHILLES reported that Walrus W2724 had been damaged during a catapult launching in the Hauraki Gulf on Thursday, 10th September 1942 (Pilot, Sub Lieutenant (A) W T Billings, RNZNVR) plus an observer (unidentified), the purpose of the flight stated to be an anti-submarine patrol, followed by practice anti-submarine bombing. I have extensive details of this accident, among many others, but the June 1942 removal of Walrus aircraft from NZ cruisers does seem a little premature to me. Incidentally W2724 had been on the NZ Station since about April 1942, with P/O Koss Newman flying it out to Great Barrier Island on 20th of the month from Hobsonville, ditto on 25th April.
For Board members' amusement and enlightenment, I enclose a few incidents involving Walrus aircraft of 720 Flight, and 700 Squadron aboard the NZ cruisers. I am afraid this is a rather convoluted selection of documents, but one can see that administration of a Catapult Flight was no job for the faint hearted! Much of interest is contained in these memos and reports if you REALLY concentrate.
AN EXCITING WALRUS ‘INCIDENT
HMS LEANDER was absent from New Zealand from May 1940 onwards and became involved in escorting British Commonwealth convoys across the Indian Ocean between Fremantle and Colombo, with other activities taking it to South Africa and Alexandria, then to the Red Sea in June 1940. Based in the Red Sea, she assisted for six months in escorting Allied convoys heading to and from the Suez Canal, a duty made much more interesting by Italy’s entry into the war later that month on the 10th, and the proximity of enemy bases in Italian Somaliland to the south. These activities are detailed in S D Water’s “The Royal New Zealand Navy” on pages 75 – 92 (Chapter 6), which records that LEANDER escorted a convoy from Bombay to the Red Sea from 27th December 1940, then escorted a south-bound convoy down through the Red Sea, this convoy then dispersing “beyond Aden” on the 11th January 1941. “That ended the LEANDER’s service with the Red Sea convoys. She sailed from Aden on 14th January and arrived at Colombo on the 21st”. The loss of this Walrus (which despite statements contained below WAS apparently LEANDER’s new aircraft) is also recorded briefly in this book, on page 94. It is also mentioned that LEANDER sailed from Colombo (minus Walrus and crew) on the afternoon of the 24th in answer to an urgent request from the Indian Ocean that a British steamer was under attack near the Seychelles by a German raider. S D Waters also states that this circumstance left the Walrus crew “to procure a new aircraft.”
Aircraft L2188, 24/1/41. Fitted with Pegasus engine No. 17419/115289 (believed first number is Bristol number, second comes the Air Ministry number), on strength of 700 Squadron, FAA. This aircraft was taken over from the FAA Maintenance Unit at Aden on 13/1/41 by Lieutenant G W R Nicholl, RN, from HMS LEANDER. Aircraft reported to be serviceable and flight tested. However a forced landing on the aerodrome was made by Lt Nicholl shortly after take off, cause found to be dirty petrol. The fuel system was flushed out and refilled with clean petrol pumped through a chamois-leather filter. On following day (14/1/41) L2188 was utilised by Nicholl for a H/A (High Angle) practice firing – flight lasted 1 hour, 40 minutes. Presume after this the aircraft was hoisted aboard LEANDER and the ship proceeded to Ceylon.
On 24/1/41, Lt Nicholl (crew LAC Windleborn, Telegraphist, Sgt Tulloch, camera operator), and Lieutenant Commander C C B Mackenzie, RN (passenger, to gain flying experience) was authorised to undertake a training flight from Colombo to Trincomalee, purpose of flight was to provide flying practice for pilot, and also to enable him to make the acquaintance of the FAA Repair Base at Trincomalee. Take off at Colombo was at 0705 hours, the Walrus having been previously hoisted down from the ship, and petrol tanks checked (65 gallons in both tanks, to total of 130 gallons.) Telegraphist was ordered to make his callsign every 15 minutes during flight, satisfactory W/T communications having been established. Course was set to the northward along the coast as far as Kalpitya where (course) alteration was made towards Trincomalee. At 0935 hours, at 2,400 feet over flat, jungle-covered country, the engine suddenly cut out with no warning.
Lieutenant Nicholl spied a small lake, or tank, to port and soon made a good landing on it. The lake was approximately half a mile long and 20 – 30 yards wide. The telegraphist had signalled the ship that a forced landing was being made soon after the engine cut out, and gave a rough position. Only one map was carried, which gave little detail of the island’s interior. Some natives soon assembled on the bank but as they only spoke Tamil, Nicholl, who could speak Hindustani, was unable to communicate.
Nicholl then examined the petrol system and soon found that the starboard tank was completely dry, but the port one still held the original 65 gallons although the fuel cock was in the “ON” position (butterfly was in the streamlined condition), but the lock-wire was hanging loose. The cock for the starboard (empty) tank was in the normal “OFF” position so Nicholls assumed that both butterfly nuts had been assembled wrongly on the cock spigots. When the port cock was turned “OFF”, fuel flowed freely. “My conclusion as to the cause of the forced-landing was that the port tank supply cock had, at some period, broken adrift from the locking wire and had been turned off by the force of the slipstream, through being incorrectly assembled, while the aircraft was in the air.”
W/T contact was made with the ship, stating that they would take off soon, signal timed at 0935 hours. Little or no wind was blowing, but as the ship was under orders to sail at short notice, Nicholl decided that a take off should be made immediately. Although the engine of this aircraft was not as good as the ship’s own aircraft, Nicholl considered they should have little trouble in clearing the low trees at the western end of the lake. He made a dummy run along the take off path to ruffle the water for the take off, and check for floating debris. For the actual take off the telegraphist was ordered to move from his aft position to one nearer the CoG (centre of gravity). (Note, reference to “the ship’s own aircraft in this passage confusing; however it seems that L2188 WAS the LEANDER’s NEW aircraft, previous one presumably having been landed for overhaul at one of the FAA shore stations.)
Towards the end of the take-off run the aircraft was on the step and Nicholl felt they would clear the scrub in the gap between the far trees. Unfortunately considerable weed lay below the surface at the far end of the lake and this snared the tail-wheel and impeded forward speed. Although the aircraft became airborne it could not accelerate and the tail-wheel struck the gentle slope of the bank, then became airborne again but 70 yards further on the hull struck the ground and then “pecked” for another 150 yards. Nicholl kept the throttle open until he felt the definite retarding effect of tree branches and scrub, then he closed it and the aircraft soon slithered to a halt, swinging at right angles to the line of advance and listing slightly to starboard. The engine could not be turned off and was already well ablaze, so the four shaken occupants got clear of the aircraft and retired to a safe distance. They only suffered minor scratches from thorn bushes, but the telegraphist also had a superficial glass cut on the right forearm. When the ammunition began to explode, the four retreated further away from the blazing wreck. It was considered that the petrol tank or the petroflex hoses had been pierced by a tree branch or some other object, thus spraying the engine with petrol. At 1030 hours, Lieutenant Commander Mackenzie set out to find a telephone so as to contact Trincomalee, leaving Nicholl and the two FAA ratings to stay with the aircraft. (Observation: judging by their ranks, these were almost certainly RAF personnel attached to the FAA.) Nicholl made an attempt to examine the aircraft and salvage some gear at 1230 hours, but as the fires were still smouldering strongly he wisely retired as there was still much unexploded ammunition on board. At 1630 the fire was nearly out and an examination revealed that the aircraft’s interior was completely gutted, even such items as the wheels, fuel tanks, bulkheads, cylinder heads, etc, being reduced to ashes, the exception being the fore end of the forward gun position. He salvaged the remnants of the Syko machine in its case, two Lewis guns, and five pans of unexploded ammunition (latter from forward gun position. The main body of the search party arrived near the crash site with Lt Cmdr Mackenzie at 0400 hours on morning of 25th January at the village of Kamili Ullpota near the lake, and the whole party set out at 0430 hours on the return journey, eventually arriving at the road soon after 0800 hours, where cars waited to pick them up and take them to Trincomalee; they arrived at their destination at approximately 1015 hours.
Lieutenant Nicholl added that the natives of the village were most helpful, providing food and shelter for the three aircrew overnight, and providing a guide for Lt Cmdr Mackenzie.
MORE EXCITEMENT FOR A WALRUS
Aircraft L2322, 17/5/42. Fitted with Pegasus VI, maker’s number P.17850, Service (Air Ministry) number 121990; aircraft on strength of HMS (Sic! Should now be HMNZS) LEANDER, No. 700 (Catapult) Squadron. Normal pilot at this time was Sub Lieutenant (A) Watts, A B R, Royal Navy. Accident occurred at 0530 hours (dark), when the aircraft was being hoisted from the catapult before the front locking bolts were withdrawn. The front spools of the aircraft were forced out of the jaws of the front legs of the catapult trolley and thus released themselves with a jerk. Three of the four legs of the aircraft slings parted on the shock of the rebound and one of these legs whipped round, withdrew the pin and operated the disengaging lever of the quick release hook, thus allowing the aircraft to fall back on the catapult. (This last sentence elicited the annotation “Remarkable!” in the document’s margin.)
Accident held to be primarily responsible to Lieutenant C W Dyer, RN, for his failure to adhere to the drill (“Off loading amphibian aircraft” in CB 4012 (40) Section VII, paragraphs 9 to 23), and for not personally seeing that the front locking bolts were clear before ordering “Up purchase”. This latter could easily have been done by ordering the catapult officer to shine his torch on them. Some blame is attached also to Mr. T H Pearse, Temporary Warrant Mechanician, Royal New Zealand Navy, for failing to make certain that the Directing Officer realized that the order “Down front locking bolts” could not be obeyed.
This accident rendered unserviceable “every part of the airframe which could be examined in the time available. The hull and port lower mainplane are considered to be beyond repair, but the engine is probably serviceable and the mobile equipment is undamaged.”
“The aircraft has been shipped (on 17th) to Suva on USS “ARTHUR MIDDLETON” for onward shipment to Auckland.”
On 25th May, at 1225 hours, message sent by (Naval Office?) Wellington to NOCF (Fiji?) stating: “LEANDER’s 0121/17 – Endeavour should be made to render hull temporarily seaworthy before arrival at Auckland”, presume referring to the unlucky L2322.
On 2nd June 1942, Hobsonville was advised that “Unserviceable spare aircraft engine Bristol Pegasus 166 165/P33320 has been landed at Suva. NOCF is requested to arrange for onward shipment to Hobsonville.” (Presume that NOCF was Naval Officer Commanding, Fiji. Note that the first engine number does not make sense, probably corrupted in signal.)
A more detailed engineering report describing the damage suffered by L2322 was compiled at RNZAF Base Hobsonville in early June 1942, and signed by Wing Commander G B Bolt, dated 9th June. Hobsonville had been requested to write this report on 4th June. “Report on damage to L2322. Hull: Port side chine crumpled from bow to main step, affecting plating for 6” each side of chine (side and bottom). Starboard side chine crumpled at flare 2’6” from step forward. Main keel slightly twisted at curve 3’ from bow, and bottom plating damaged at that area. “Bottom of hull from main step aft on port side for 12’6” completely destroyed between keel and chine. Keel and chine at this point crumpled and side plating affected 6” along chine. Two special frames at this area require complete rebuilding. Mainplanes: Port lower mainplane has both main spars broken. Port lower aileron main spar badly bent. Starboard lower aileron crumpled at trailing edge. Centre Section: Front spar crushed. Port lower rear root end hull fittings suspected of being distorted.” “It is estimated that there would be 6 – 8 months work for four experienced men and the parts required would use up most of the spares now available for the other serviceable aircraft.” “It is therefore suggested that if the Navy Department consider there are sufficient aircraft now ready and serviceable in New Zealand for their requirements, it may be more economical to convert L2322 to spares, of which stocks are now so low.”
Three days later, on 12/6/42, the Admiralty was advised by signal of the accident to L2322, and said that it was proposed to return the aircraft to Australia for repair or reduction to spares.
(All the original incident information extracted and/or paraphrased from a report compiled by the captain of LEANDER to the Naval Secretary, Wellington, dated 18/5/42. On 20/5/42 LEANDER requested details of when a Walrus a/c could be ready for shipment, presume seeking a replacement. Following day LEANDER advised Wellington that she “had embarked Seagull V a/c A2-5 (Bristol Pegasus engine No. 1795/125689) from “MANOORA” who request supply of replacement on arrival Sydney.”
Initially Wellington believed that the Walrus concerned in this incident was L2222 and NOT L2322 as noted in the original signals and accident report, as it had already received an intimation that L2222 was to have been landed at Brisbane for a 120 hour inspection (ref. ACNB’s 1434/31/31) “but was probably retained in LEANDER on receipt of AFO 58/42 which extended the major inspection intervals to 180 hours or 6 months.” Also noted that “L2222’s cards have been noted accordingly” on 22/5/42. It was subsequently revealed that “L2222 had been landed at Brisbane and was later transported to Rose Bay, Sydney for inspection. L2322 was exchanged for this aircraft” and came from Rathmines, NSW. It was pointed out that “L2222 is the property of the Admiralty and the responsibility of the NZ Government” in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, Melbourne on 22/6/42.
When LEANDER signalled that she had embarked (Seagull V) A2-5, it was noted in Wellington on the form that …. “Both LEANDER and ACHILLES now have Seagull aircraft, and our Walrus W2707 is embarked on AUSTRALIA, and taken on charge. This is undesirable as a permanent arrangement since minor differences in the two types will cause difficulties in the supply of spares in New Zealand. Suggest therefore that ACNB (Australian Commonwealth Naval Board?) be approached with a view to the eventual return to their respective stations of the above aircraft.”
On 16th July 1942, a Message was sent by the NZ Naval Board to ACNB (R) Eastern Area Air Board, as follows: “1) My 1503/4/6 to ACNB only. Seagulls A2-5 and A2-12 shipped per SS KLIPPONTEIN consigned HQ Eastern Area. ACNB please pass to Air Authorities. 2) My 1717/12/6. Request instructions for disposal of Walrus L2322.”
A Navy Office Minute Sheet, File No. NA 05/10/2 – WALRUS W2322 dated 12th August 1942, stated:- “A memo and three signals (1717/12/6, 1527/16/7, and 1046/10/8) have failed to elicit any response from ACNB. If, therefore, we now take matters into our own hands, I do not think they have any cause for complaint. We can either (a) Reduce the airframe to spares and take them and the engine on charge in NZ; or (b) Return the wreck to Australia with our best wishes. Presume financial considerations will be the deciding factor in the choice of alternatives.”
On 14th August 1942, Flying Officer J R McGRANE, Flight Commander, FAA Base Hobsonville, wrote to the Naval Secretary, Navy Office, Wellington, pointing out that no disposal instructions had yet been received for L2322. “In the meantime, owing to its excessive corrosion, the engine installed in this aircraft has been removed for cleaning and anti-corrosive treatment.”
On 22nd August, 1942, Hobsonville received a message: “WALRUS L2322, now at Hobsonville, to be shipped to Sydney by next available transport.” A reply was received on 23rd September, stating that “Transport arranged for tomorrow, 24th September.” On 25th September, Wellington advised that the Walrus “had been shipped to NSO, Sydney, in KAIRANGA.” (Note, latter ship was Union Steam Ship Coy vessel. Presume NSO = Naval Supply Officer, or similar.)
On 8th December 1942, a message was sent from Commonwealth of Australia Navy Office to the Naval Secretary, Wellington, NZ, enclosing copy of a message sent to the Overseas HQ, RAAF, Kingsway, by the Department of Air, Melbourne, regarding damage sustained by Walrus L2322 (This latter message dated 9/11/42). “Walrus L2322 (was) badly damaged while embarked in HMS LEANDER in June 1942 (actual date was 17/5/42) and has been returned to Australia. At present being repaired. Question of financial adjustment to cover cost of repair under consideration at present. This aircraft previously belonged (to) FAA and received from RAAF on loan. However two Australian aircraft, Walrus L2318 disembarked ex CANBERRA at Colombo for repairs in December 1941, and Seagull A2-18 disembarked ex AUSTRALIA at Aden for repairs in December 1941 have not been returned (to) RAAF. Presume therefore Walrus L2322 replacement for one of these aircraft. Confirm with Admiralty if this correct. If so, financial adjustment in respect this a/c will be between Australian and NZ Governments without reference to Admiralty.”
The New Zealand Government pointed out in a letter to the Australian Naval Secretary on 31st December 1942 that L2322 was the property of the Imperial Government, and NOT the NZ Government, as it was only “on loan” as equipment on the cruisers.
On 7th January 1943, the Director of Air Material, Admiralty, London, sent a (signal? Minute?) to the AOC, RAAF Overseas HQ, Kingsway, London, stating that: “Under the conditions of loan whereby the Dominion is responsible for loss or damage, other than fair wear and tear, the Government of NZ should bear the cost of repairs to L2322. The proposal that this aircraft should be retained against L2318 is concurred in, subject to the Government of Australia remaining responsible for the cost of repairs to L2318 after disembarked in Colombo. With regard to Seagull A2-18, disembarked at Aden, Walrus L2327 was issued to HMAS AUSTRALIA by the Naval Officer i/c, Aden, as replacement aircraft.”
COST OF A WALRUS, JULY 1939.
After the loss of Walrus K5783 (at Aitutaki, Cook Islands, 15/7/39) it was necessary to obtain a replacement aircraft. On 24th July, the Base Stores Officer, Auckland, was asked to forward a demand for such an aircraft for HMS ACHILLES, fitted with a Pegasus VI engine. “The High Commissioner has already been requested by W/T to arrange supply.” (Message signed by N T P Cooper, Naval Secretary.) Also on this date (24/7/39) Cooper wrote to the Hon. Minister of Defence, asking for approval for the purchase of a new Walrus (value approximately £7,500 Sterling), and for his signature on a proposed telegram to the High Commissioner.
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 12, 2012 10:56:43 GMT 12
I have met the Leander's Walrus Air Gunner, Fred Hall, who I am sure was on that Red Sea patrol they did. He actually was British and decided to join the Royal Navy but on looking into it he discovered that the NZ Division was hiring directly and they paid more than the RN did. I may possibly be wrong with the timing, maybe he joined up after the formation of the RNZN, but i do know that he was in the Leander's Walrus crew on a Meditteranean patrol and went through a canal and they eventually got to New Zealand, where the ship's crew got leave. At that time he met Pat, a New Zealand WAAF, and they fell in love. He had to sail again and so she got permission to leave the WAAF and sailed to London to mee thim there, but Leander ended up in the Pacific instead!! He later ended up as XO in a Corsair squadron on HMS Illustrious, I think it was, and he ended up also supporting the Army at El Alamein. A very interewsting man. Pat died just a few weeks ago, they married in the end and they lived in Auckland.
Also further to that same story it reminds me a lot of another incident. Don Mackenzie was an RNZAF pilot based in Ceylon. He was posted to a maintenance unit and was testing and ferryng aircraft all over the place. On one occasion he was flying in a Walrus, I am almost sure he was alone, and he too had engine failure over the jungle. He also put down in a strip pond, just as this Leander aircraft had done. He told me that villages often had these ponds there as irrigation for their plantations. From memory the strip of water was just too short for the landing and he over ran onto the bank. I can't recall all the details off hand but its all recorded. I think from memory a party came and repaired it and someone else flew it out. Interesting to hear his rather unique sounding landing was not actually unique.