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Royal New Zealand Air Force



From the middle of October until 6 December No. 3 Squadron operated from Pallikulo. During the last fortnight of this period, a detached flight of six aircraft was stationed at Guadalcanal. While at Santo the squadron was directly under the orders of COMAIRSOPAC, whose flagship and operational headquarters, the USS Curtiss, was stationed in Segond Channel. For aircrews and ground staff it was a period of training and acclimatisation to tropical conditions. At the same time the squadron was given a specific operational commitment which involved daily searches by from two to four aircraft over the seas round Santo up to a distance of 400 miles from their base, as well as regular anti-submarine patrols within a radius of 20 miles from Segond Channel.

Six hundred miles to the north-west, American task forces were engaged in repelling repeated attempts by the Japanese to land large reinforcements on Guadalcanal. Santo, as the Allies' forward page 139 base and the concentration point for a vast amount of American shipping, was well defended by sea and air forces. Enemy surface vessels kept well clear, although submarines were operating in the area and on two occasions came close enough to shell American shore installations.

Patrols by RNZAF aircraft were in the main uneventful. One possible contact with the enemy was made when a Hudson sighted what might have been an enemy submarine 10 miles away. It searched the area thoroughly, but the object disappeared. Three weeks later another Hudson dropped bombs and depth-charges on what appeared to be a periscope moving through the water, but no oil or wreckage came to the surface.

During November it was reported that Japanese patrols had landed on Gava, Vanualava, Banks and Torres Islands, immediately to the north of Santo, and No. 3 Squadron was ordered to cover the islands in its searches. Nothing suspicious was ever seen.