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  PV-1 Ventura Serial Number NZ4613 Tail 13
RNZAF
8 Squadron

Former Assignments
1 Squadron

Click For Enlargement
K. Munday 1986

Pilot  F/O Norman Harold Benton, 428755 (MIA / KIA, BR) Auckland, NZ
Navigator  F/Sgt James Noel Cunneen, 432192 (MIA / KIA, BR) Wellington, NZ
Radio/Gunner F/Sgt Robert Hugh MacFarquhar Buchanan, 392012 (MIA / KIA, BR) Southland, NZ
Gunner  W/O Christopher Charles William Jeffares, 4216543 (MIA / KIA, BR) Taranaki, NZ
Gunner  F/Sgt James George Gardiner Mallett, 436918 (MIA / KIA, BR) Taranaki, NZ
Observer  Sgt Norman Egerton Merfield, WX14946 AIF (MIA / KIA / BNR) Kojonup, WA

Crashed  June 9, 1945


Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed at Burbank, CA. Constructors number 6268. Assigned U. S. Navy bureau number 49452. Disassembled and shipped to Hawaii, reassembled and flown to New Zealand.

Wartime History
Assigned to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as Ventura serial number NZ4613. On April 18, 1944 BoC with Unit 19 and assigned to 1 Squadron at Whenuapai Airfield. On August 15, 1944 flown to Guadalcanal. During January 1945 assigned to 8 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On June 9, 1945 took off from Emirau Airfield on a mission to drop propaganda leaflets over New Ireland. Aboard was Sgt Merfield, Australian Army Intelligence Corps FELO representative to oversee the operation.

This aircraft failed to return and was believed to have been hit by anti-aircraft fire over the target. In fact, it crashed into a mountain near Kimidam. The entire crew was killed in the crash. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
The next day PV-1 Ventura NZ4609 crashed while searching for this aircraft.

Wreckage
Crashed near near Kimidan, inland from Lamerika. After the crash, the Japanese visited the crash site and buried the crew nearby.

During November 1946 the crash site was visited by the RNZAF MPIU [Missing Personnel Investigation Unit] and the recovered the remains of the crew with the exception of Merfield.

Memorials
After the recovery of remains, the recovered crew members were buried at Bourail War Cemetery. Benton at 5. 32. Cunneen at 5.33. Buchanan at 5. 34. Jeffares at 5. 36 and Mallett at 5. 35.

Merfield was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He remains missing in action and is memorialized on the Rabaul memorial, panel 1 at Bitapaka War Cemetery (Rabaul War Cemetery).

References
The Wreck of NZ4613 by Chis Bittner includes photos of the wreck
ADF Serials - PV-1 Ventura NZ4613
CWGC - Norman Harold Benton
CWGC - James Noel Cunneen
CWGC - Robert Hugh MacFarquhar Buchanan
CWGC - Christopher Charles William Jeffares
CWGC - James George Gardiner Mallett
CWGC - Norman Egerton Merfield

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017

 

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