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    Turnbull Airfield (No. 3 Strip) Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

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Ruff Jan 17, 1943

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5th AF March 7, 1943

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5th AF Association 1990

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Richard E Smith 1943

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5th AF Association 1990

Location
Turnbull Airfield was located at Milne Bay near Gili Gili beside Swinger Bay (also known as Stringer Bay). Bordered by trees of the prewar coconut plantation. Also known as 'Turnbull Field'.

Construction
Under construction during the Battle of Milne Bay, a single runway was built running roughly east to west into Milne Bay. During its early days of operation, the strip was made of 5,000' of marston matting.

World War II Pacific Theatre History
During the Battle of Milne Bay, the Japanese 5th Kure SNLF was advancing from the east. Defending the strip were Australian A-Coy (25th Battalion), 61st Battalion and US Army 43rd Engineers. Barbed wire was strung across the runway, and half tracks, guns and mortars on the far side. Japanese attacked the strip on August 31, 1942 between 1:00-5:00am, failing to capture the strip, they pull back.

Naming Honor
On September 14, the strip was re-named Turnbull, to honor RAAF Squadron Leader Peter Turnbull, who was killed flying P-40E Kittyhawk A29-92 on August 27, 1942.

Allied & Japanese missions against No. 3 Strip (Turnbull) and Milne Bay
August 4, 1942 - April 14, 1943

B-17F "Fire Ball Mail" Serial Number 41-24551
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

B-17F Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-24540
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

B-17F "Fire Ball Mail" Serial Number 41-24551
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2639
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

B-24D-5-CO Liberator Serial Number 41-23824
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

American Units Based at Turnbull (No. 3 Strip)
8th FG, 36th FS (P-39) Garbutt Field Sept 18, 42 - Feb 22, 43 Mareeba
8th FG, 80th FS (P-39) November 10, 1942 - late January 1943 Mareeba
43rd BG, 403rd BS (B-17) Iron Range 11 23, 42 - 01 21, 43 Mareeba
418th NFS (P-38, P-70) from USA Nov 2 - Nov 22, 1943 Dobodura
71st TRG, 82nd TRS (B-25, P-39) USA 11-6 - 11 23 43 Dobodura
421st NFS (P-70) from USA Jan 4 - Feb 1, 1944 Nadzab

Today
Disused since the war, only the former runway area remains visible.

Japanese Mass Grave Marker
After the August 31, 1942 battle, two privates erected a simple sign on Japanese mass grave at the edge of the strip. Originally the sign read:

This marks the westernmost point of the Japanese advance
August 1942
85 Unknown Japanese Marines Lie Buried Here

The monument became a popular spot for photos to be taken. In May 1944 a permanent plaque was established.

Turnbull Field Monument
A metal plaque was placed at the airfield telling the history of Sqn Ldr Peter Turnbull, erected by donations from family and veterans, and propeller donated by the RAAF.

You are standing on the eastern side of
what was in 1942 No. 3 Airstrip later named
Turnbull Field
In Honor of Sqn Ldr Peter St George Turnbull, D. F. C.
C. O. of No 76 Squadron
Born Ammdale NSW 9-2-1917
Killed in Action 27-9-1942 during a strafing
run on enemy near Sandersons Bay
To Strive - To Seek - To Find
Not To Yield
Erected by donations from family, veterans
and those who remember
Propeller donated by R.A.A.F.

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Last Updated
April 16, 2016

 

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