Royal New Zealand Air Force
OPERATIONS BY NO. 3 SQUADRON
OPERATIONS BY NO. 3 SQUADRON
No. 3 Squadron was still based at Guadalcanal, where it remained until towards the end of October. During the early part of the Munda campaign, its commitment had been four searches daily to the west and north of Guadalcanal, and a fifth (known as the X-ray search) which involved flying up the ‘Slot’ to a point north-west of Vella Lavella and then south-west between Vella Lavella and Treasury Islands, south round New Georgia and back to base. This patrol extended right into the Shortlands area, from which any page 198 information, positive or negative, was vitally important to the conduct of the campaign. Most of the sightings of enemy aircraft and shipping at this period were made during X-ray patrols. The squadron lost two aircraft during July. One lost on the 7th, captained by Flight Lieutenant Rutherford,1 had been ordered to drop flares off Tonolei Harbour, in southern Bougainville, to illuminate any shipping there for an attack by American torpedo-bombers, and then to drop more off Vella Lavella to guide the bombers home. It was last seen by the American pilots after completing an excellent flare-dropping run near the harbour, and was probably shot down by an enemy night fighter.
The other aircraft was brought down by Japanese fighters off Baga Island, near Vella Lavella, on 24 July. It was attacked by eight Zeros while on patrol and fought them off in a running fight over 40 miles. Finally, with the aircraft on fire and three of the crew wounded, the captain, Flight Lieutenant Allison,2 made a water landing two miles off the coast of Baga. The crew all got out safely. As they floated in the water the Zeros came over and strafed them for ten minutes. There was only one survivor, Sergeant Ganley,3 the rear-gunner. He swam ashore and several days later made his way to Vella Lavella. There he spent a month with the coastwatcher, who treated his wounds, and he was finally picked up by an American PT boat and returned to his squadron. During the action it is probable that Ganley shot down one of the attacking Zeros, although in the absence of definite corroborative evidence no claim for its destruction was made.
At the beginning of August the X-ray patrol was taken over by a squadron of American PV1s4 which had been recently posted to the Solomons. For some time the American crews operated under the instructions and control of No. 3 Squadron. From then on the PV1s were given the odd jobs of minor bombing strikes which had previously relieved the monotony of No. 3 Squadron, and for the rest of its tour the squadron, apart from occasional weather flights and transport flights to Munda, was employed solely in patrolling over the rear area in the Solomons.
It handed over its duties to No. 1 Squadron, RNZAF, on 23 October and retired to Santo, where it remained doing routine patrols until January 1944, when all aircrews and aircraft returned to New Zealand for leave and re-equipping.
Bridge on the East Coast of New Ireland, February 1944, after low-level bomb attack
A bombed pillbox at Tawai Point, Rabaul, September 1945
Ventura over Rabaul
Section of camp at Bougainville, June 1945
No. 15 Squadron operations room, Bougainville, November 1944
Corsair pilots in crew room, Bougainville, January 1945
Japanese airstrip, Kieta, Bougainville
Japanese gardens, South Bougainville
Camp at Los Negros, March 1945
Staff conference at comairsopac Headquarters, Santo, July 1943. Air Commodore S. Wallingford, Rear-Admiral O. B. Hardison, Vice-Admiral W. L. Ainsworth, Vice-Admiral A. W. Fitch, Major-General R. J. Mitchell, Major-General N. F. Twining, Brigadier-General B. C. Lockwood
Air Vice-Marshal L. M. Isitt signing the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay, September 1945—General Douglas MacArthur at the microphone
CHIEFS OF AIR STAFF