|Pilot Flight Lieutenant Dennis Hugh Hobbs, 404444 (KIA, BR) Canterbury, NZ
Crew F/Sgt Frederick Dudley Murphy, 422427 (KIA, BR) Blenheim, NZ
Crew Flight Lieutenant Robert Leslie Scarlett, 412905 (KIA, BR) Nelson, NZ
Crew Warrant Officer Stanley Anzac Nuttall, 421285 (KIA, BR) Hawkes Bay, NZ
Crew FSgt N. Gardiner (WIA, rescued)
Crashed December 20, 1944
Built by Lockheed in Burbank, CA. Model 237-27-01. Constructor number 6396. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as PV-1 Ventura bureau number 49580. Disassembled and shipped to Oahu then reassembled and shipped to New Zealand as part of lend-lease.
On June 15, 1944 assigned to the to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as Ventura NZ4634. Reassembled by Unit 45 at Hamilton Airfield. Assigned to No. 1 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On December 20, 1944 took off on a mission to drop supplies to Allied troops on Bougainville. When it failed to climb out of a valley, it stalled and crashed into a ridge near the Aita River. Four of the crew were killed in the crash. The sole survivor was FSgt N. Gardiner who suffered a broken leg.
FSgt Gardiner was located and a radio message to send an aircraft to medivac him from Pusupa village. On December 26, 1944 the rescue aircraft Auster A11-16 piloted by F/O James A. Russell landed at Pusupa village but suffered a damaged propeller during the landing. Afterwards, a replacement propeller was air dropped in a storpedo but landed damaged.
On December 27, 1944, the aircraft was repaired with another replacement propeller air dropped and the aircraft was tested. Gardiner was loaded aboard in a stretcher during the attempted take off, the aircraft failed to get airborne and crashed, neither the pilot nor Gardiner was injured.
On December 28, 1944 Russel, Gardiner escorted by Sgt Wigley and Sgt McEvoy plus ten native police and 30-40 carriers began walking back to base. Gardiner was carried in a stretcher for four days to the coast where they were met by a barge and transported to Torokina.
The four crew killed in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the crew was permanently buried at Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery. Hobbs at 6. 26. Murphy at 6. 13. Scarlett at 6. 28. Nuttall at 6. 12.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - PV-1 Ventura 49580
ADF Serials - Ventura NZ4634
CWGC - Dennis Hugh Hobbs
CWGC - Frederick Dudley Murphy
CWGC - Robert Leslie Scarlett
Stanley Anzac Nuttall
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May 17, 2018