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Royal New Zealand Air Force



While the front-line squadrons were moving forward through the Solomons with the American forces, other New Zealand units were engaged in garrison duties and training in the rear areas of the South Pacific. At Santo there was always an RNZAF fighter squadron, on its way from New Zealand to the combat area, engaged in operational training and available for fighter defence duties if required. No. 9 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron was also there during most of the year, carrying out shipping escorts and anti-submarine patrols until it returned to New Zealand in October. It was replaced by No. 3 Squadron, which came back from Guadalcanal and operated from Santo until the end of the year. In November No. 2 (BR) Squadron also arrived at Santo and operated and trained there until February 1944, when it moved up to Munda. No. 1 Squadron, meanwhile, had replaced No. 3 at Guadalcanal.

From the time when No. 3 Squadron began operations at Guadalcanal in November 1942 until it was replaced by No. 1 Squadron in October 1943, its maintenance in the forward area was of paramount importance in RNZAF bomber-reconnaissance activities. Its continued efficiency was necessary in order to justify the inclusion of New Zealand units in the South Pacific Command. Its high standard was maintained by ‘milking’ the squadrons in the rear area of both aircraft and crews whenever they were required. This expedient was naturally resisted by the officers commanding No. 9 Squadron at Santo and No. 4 Squadron in Fiji, who disliked seeing their well-trained squadrons being depleted of their best crews. The RNZAF, however, was in a sense on trial with our allies, and could not afford to risk the disruption and delay which would have followed a complete changeover of squadrons. Moreover, operational necessity demanded continued maximum efficiency by our bomber-reconnaissance squadrons at Guadalcanal, which would have been impossible if a complete new unit had been posted there. Thus, during most of the year Nos. 4 page 223 and 9 Squadrons acted in reality as operational training squadrons with, at the same time, definite operational roles.