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Royal New Zealand Air Force

move to los negros

move to los negros

In June all RNZAF units on Emirau were ordered to prepare for a move forward. Their ultimate destination was to be Borneo, but page 307 they were to spend some weeks en route at Los Negros. An advance party of No. 10 Servicing Unit travelled to Los Negros by air on 7 July to prepare a camp and service the aircraft of No. 4 (BR) Squadron, which were due to follow in a few days. Owing to shipping difficulties, the balance of the unit, with its equipment, did not leave until 9 August. No. 14 (F) Squadron ceased operations from Emirau on 7 August and flew to Los Negros the next day. Its servicing unit, No. 5, followed by sea on the 20th.

New Zealand forces on Los Negros during 1945 comprised No. 4 Servicing Unit, the Corsair Assembly Unit, which was transferred from Santo in February, and a succession of fighter squadrons:

  • No. 23 (November 1944–January 1945)

  • No. 25 (January-March)

  • No. 19 (March-May)

  • No. 17 (May–September)

  • No. 14 (August-October)

No. 4 (BR) Squadron, which came from Emirau in July, and No. 14 did not become operational until after the war ended, owing to the late arrival of their servicing units.

Fighter operations during the year were similar to those carried out in 1944: dawn and dusk patrols, and scrambles to intercept unidentified aircraft. When interceptions were made strangers invariably turned out to be friendly; but there were occasions when they evaded interception and were presumably Japanese.

One enemy air raid was made on the night of 28–29 April. Two torpedo-carrying aircraft, flying low over the water, came in shortly after midnight to attack shipping in Seeadler Harbour. One of them hit and severely damaged a floating dock. The defences were taken by surprise, and both aircraft retired unscathed. Japanese records captured after the war showed that one of them was lost on the return trip to Rabaul. They also disclosed that the pilot of the other one thought he had hit an aircraft carrier with his torpedo.

When the war ended it was thought that a fighter squadron and servicing unit from Los Negros would be going to Japan, and volunteers were called for. The rumour came to nothing, however, and the next two months were spent in making all aircraft serviceable and despatching them to Bougainville on their way back to New Zealand.

At the same time a start was made with repatriating as many personnel as possible. Royal New Zealand Air Force strength on the island was 1085 in the middle of September, and at the end of the month it had been reduced to 533. Equipment was checked and packed ready to be shipped home and camps were dismantled. By page 308 the end of October only a small rear party, engaged in final clearing up, remained.