Post by aircraftclocks on May 10, 2020 1:42:24 GMT 12
From Fleet Air Wing One, War Diary February 1944.
The following entry is made:
(c) Ventura Group: Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED FORTY (12 PV-1s) based at the Russell Islands, and also operating out of Munda, serviced by Patsu ONE-NINE; RNZAF #1 (16 PVs) and RNZAF #2 (17 PVs) which relieved #1 on 17 February 1944, based at Guadalcanal and operating from Munda; and Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-EIGHT (15 PV-1s at Stirling Field, Treasury Islands), (with 4 planes at the Russells until 13 February), serviced by Patsu ONE-EIGHT. These squadrons except Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-EIGHT conducted daily strategic searches, all made special searches, Anti-Submarine patrols and miscellaneous missions, including bombing of surface and shore targets.
U.S.S. Coos Bay was also under command of this air wing.
It looks like the RNZAF were most likely not in action in this area on the 18th as they had just swapped squadrons over the day before.
The search and rescue assets showing as being present during the month are:
2. Search and Reconnaissance: RNZAF #1 (PV-1) -Squadron Leader H.C. Walker. RNZAF #2 (PV-1) -Squadron Leader Greenway. VS-64 (SBD) - Lt. Comdr. Alfred D. Morgan, USNR. VB-138 (PV-1) -Lt. Comdr. Hanson, USN. VB-140 (PV-1) - Lt. Comdr. V. Williams.
Given this I looked up the war diaries of the 2 PV squadrons and for VB-138 there was this entry:
February 18th Lieut. Guy HOWARD, USN, found raft at entrance to St. Georges Channel, dropped dye marker, called Dumbo and circled while Dumbo landed and made rescue.
Well done aircraftclocks, you have nailed down the identity of the PV-1 squadron, and the crew (well the captain at any rate). Incidentally, 2 Sqdn RNZAF on this day WAS operational, according to their Operations Record Book (Form 540), but as you say, 1 Sqdn was not, having ceased all operations the previous day (17th Feb): 2 Sqdn took over their aircraft (serviced by 10 SU based at Henderson Field with a detached flight of servicing personnel at the advanced base, Munda.)
2 Squadrons ops on 18th Feb, flown from Munda as follows: Six X-Ray patrols. First three away from Munda over period 0619 - 0628 (one returned 0646 with engine trouble, but this crew away again at 0751, could have been in same aircraft after rectification, or in replacement aircraft; these 3 returned 1010, 1144, and 0842. Captains were F/Sgt Wilson, F/O Scott, F/O Cook. Second three away from Munda over period 1125 - 1134, returned 1531 - 1547. All reports negative. Captains were F/L Golden, F/Sgt Baker, F/O Shuttleworth. Also three non-op travel flights, one Munda - Cactus and return, other Cactus - Munda. No times given. Captains were F/O Cook, and F/L McFarlane, DFC. Despite the "non-op" status of these flights, crews were always warned to be alert for any signs of unusual activity en route, and especially for enemy submarines, although these were not commonly seen as far south as Guadalcanal by this late date.
Unfortunately from the time this squadron began flying operations from Munda, they ceased entering aircraft serial numbers and names of crew members, also times for non-operational flights, and from 19th February onwards they also dropped landing/take off times for operational flights.
If any Board members were wondering what the PATSU's in one of aircraft clock's earlier posts referred to, these were the US Navy equivalent of our own Servicing Units, in fact they inspired us to replicate this type of reorganisation. PATSU was a true acronym, meaning Pat(rol aircraft) S(ervicing) U(nit). The other US Navy permutations of PATSU's were CASU's (for all types of Carrier Aircraft - fighter, scout bomber, torpedo) and the third was SOSU's, designed to support small shore-based floatplane units which operated such aircraft as OS2Us, OS2N's, SOC's, SO3C's, etc. Incidentally the PATSU's provided support for all types of medium and large patrol aircraft, twin and four-engined, land and sea-planes.
Post by Dave Homewood on May 10, 2020 11:19:24 GMT 12
The key now that we have a date is to find out which Catalina crews were operating from the Treasuries base at that time and then find their personal flying logbooks. You'd only need to find one logbook from the crew to nail it as I'm sure all the crew members whould have noted the rescue in their logbooks.
Dave, absolutely no doubt which crew it was, Crew No. 5, under F/O J R McGrane as on my 8 May post (times 1144, 1506), confirmed by the 6 Sqdn narrative for this rescue. We already have the names of all his crew, although there is still doubt about the second Tradesman Air Gunner I have nominated, so we are closer than you think!
Post by aircraftclocks on May 10, 2020 15:09:38 GMT 12
Have not been able to narrow down which PV-1 it could have been.
There were 12 aircraft on strength at the beginning of the month, one which was damaged the pervious month (34891) was transferred out. 4 moved from Russell Islands to Stirling on the 13th February. 3 new aircraft arrived on the 12th February (34786, 48810, and 48811). 33340 crashed on 22nd February. The war diaries only show, generally, date, aircraft captain, brief outline of the sortie. If the sortie was operational, you may get an action report with a lot more detail.
So in conclusion only 4 aircraft are known to be possibility available on the day, being 33340, 34786, 48810 and 48811.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 10, 2020 17:41:44 GMT 12
In relation to Catalina activity by 6 Sqn at this time, the following comments are made in Fleet Air Wing 1 war dairies:
Feb 1944 (d) The Catalinas of Patrol Squadron FOURTEEN, Patrol Squadron SEVENTY-ONE and RNZAF #6, in addition to daily patrol flights, performed Dumbo rescue of 33 aviation personnel and carried 143 passengers to various points in combat areas. Patrol Squadron FOURTEEN attempted to rescue 2 Japanese pilots in rafts. Due to determined resistance shown and the inadvisibility of remaining longer in close proximity to enemy airdromes on New Britain, the first Jap was abandoned and the second was shot.
"Dumbo" Rescue Missions:
During March, nine (9) successful rescue missions were performed by Catalina Squadrons of Fleet Air Wing ONE and accounted for the rescue of 28 flight personnel. "Dumbo" missions were accomplished by Royal New Zealand Squadron 6 and Patrol Squadron FOURTEEN flying Catalina Flying Boats, also Patrol Squadrons TWELVE and EIGHTY-ONE flying PBY-5A Catalina Amphibians.
Some of these guys would easily be identified by those in the know?
3:36 in the PATHE film is WIlliam Wreford Lewis Jardine; Rank Flight Sergeant, aged 20, and who was killed in Sep that year. Looks like families were given stills from this film - first time I’ve seen this footage.