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Royal New Zealand Air Force


IN the months which followed the Japanese evacuation of Guadalcanal, the main concern of the American Command in the South Pacific was to build up sufficient forces to carry out the operations which were planned against the northern Solomons and New Britain. During the period the strength of the RNZAF was increased by the addition of further operational squadrons, and also by the formation of ancillary units and the administrative staff required to organise and direct them.

When No. 3 Squadron had first moved to the forward area, it had gone as a self-contained unit complete with its maintenance, medical, and signals organisation. The posting of further squadrons to the area made it desirable to establish most of the ancillary services on a station rather than a squadron basis in order to avoid unnecessary duplication. This was achieved in the first instance by withdrawing a number of men from the administrative and maintenance organisations of each squadron. Later, additional administrative personnel arrived from New Zealand, and by the end of the year squadrons going overseas comprised merely the aircrews and one or two specialist officers. All ground services were awaiting them when they reached their destination.

In October 1942 when No. 3 Squadron first moved to the combat area, Group Captain Wallingford was appointed RNZAF staff officer to COMAIRSOPAC to provide liaison between the American Command and the New Zealand unit in the field. He was at first quartered in the USS Curtiss, which was stationed in Segond Channel at Santo and served as COMAIRSOPAC'S headquarters.

The control of air operations from a ship was by no means easy owing to communication difficulties. For example, it frequently happened that the ship swinging with the tide rode around its buoy, and the telephone lines connecting it with the squadron and other units ashore were put out of action. Consequently, early in 1943 COMAIRSOPAC set up his headquarters ashore. Wallingford and his small staff had already moved ashore and set up a nucleus headquarters near No. 3 Squadron in the New Zealand camp at Pallikulo. His function was to co-ordinate the work of New page 160 Zealand units in the forward area (No. 3 Squadron at Santo and Guadalcanal and No. 9 Squadron in New Caledonia) and to maintain close contact with the American Command on supply matters.