|Pilot F/O Leslie Alexander McLellan-Symonds, 401314 (POW, died May 25, 1944) Dunedin, NZ
Crashed April 4, 1944
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 3799. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as SBD-5 Dauntless bureau number 28452. Disassembled and shipped to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Transfered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as a replacement for Douglas Dauntless NZ5059. As a replacement aircraft, never assigned a RNZAF serial number. No known nickname or nose art.
On April 4, 1944 one of three aircraft that took off from Guadalcanal on a ferry flight bound for Piva South Airfield on Bougainville. Along the way the flight experienced radio difficulties and became lost in deteriorating weather. "176" is presumed to have ditched, while the other two aircraft landed safely.
Fate of Pilot
McLellan-Symonds was captured by the Japanese and at some point shot in the thigh. He was transported to Rabaul where he was interned at Tunnel Hill POW Camp. He died from his injuries on May 25, 1944.
Testimonial of Jose Holguin by Jose Holguin:
"A prisoner of war known to me only as Simmons [McLellan-Symonds] arrived at Tunnel Hill Prisoner of War Camp in April 1944. He was suffering from a leg wound on his left thigh. I and other prisoners of war provided Simmons with first aid treatment by tearing our shirts into bandages. However, because of the lack of medical attention shown Simmons by the camp authorities, who did nothing to improve his condition, he became delirious and did not know his whereabouts or condition. This was after our removal from the Tunnel Hill prisoner of war camp cave on or about 15 March 1944, to a prison shack which we occupied after our removal from and near to the Tunnel Hill prisoner of war camp cave. Simmons would crawl towards the locked door and say, "Hurry, we will be late, the car is waiting and everything is all set". We would carry him back to his spot on the floor whenever he would escape our attention. After repeated requests were made by myself and the other prisoners of war, Chief Medical Orderly Oyamada came to the prison shack and after looking at Simmons, said that Simmons needed a blood transfusion and an operation to remove a bullet which was embedded in his thigh, but that it would be impossible to give such aid to Simmons without orders from Doctor Fusitita or Colonel Kikuchi. Simmons died on 28 May 1944 [25 May 1944] and to the best of my knowledge, the cause of his death was attributed to a lack of proper medical attention or treatment which he should have received and which developed into blood poisoning, thereby resulting in his death. I believe that Simmons was a member of the New Zealand Air Force, and had been shot down by the Japanese on or about 20 April 1944. in the vicinity of Bougainville, Solomon Islands."
McLellan-Symonds was officially declared dead on May 25, 1944. Postwar, after his remains were recovered, McLellan-Symonds was buried at the Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery at grave 8.18.
ADF Serials - Dauntless Bu No 28452
Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) - L A McLellan-Symonds
Wikipedia - No 25 Squadron, RNZAF
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January 5, 2018