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  HMNZS Kiwi (T102)
Royal New Zealand Navy
Bird class minesweeper

607 Tons (standard)
923 (full load)
168' x 30' x 15.3'
As Built
1 x 4" gun
2 x Lewis MG
40 depth charges

Added 1942
2 x 20mm Cannon
Click For Enlargement
Russell Clark c 1943

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New Zealand Navy c1943

Ship History
Built by Henry Robb Ltd at Leith Shipyards in Leith, Scotland. HMNZS Kiwi was the second of three ship order for the Royal New Zealand Navy (HMNZN) on September 26, 1939. Laid down March 19, 1940. Launched July 7, 1941 and completed sea trials off Northern England. Equipped wit ASDIC anti-submarine equipment and minesweeping equipment. Commissioned October 20, 1941 to captain Lieutenant Commander Gordon Bridson.

Wartime History
During December 1942, one of four ships of the 25th Minesweeping Flotilla that deployed to the Solomon Islands including HMNZS Matai, HMNZS Kiwi, HMNZS Tui, and HMNZS Moa.

During the night of January 29 1943 Kiwi and Moa were patrolling one mile apart off Kamimbo Bay on the northwest coast of Guadalcanal. The pair made sonar contact with a target 3,000 yards and Kiwi at once altered course toward the enemy and increased to full speed to attack with depth charges while the Moa kept her course and acted as the sonar directing vessel.

Kiwi dropped six depth-charges over the phosphorescent outline of submerged Japanese submarine I-1 at least one fell in the wake of the periscope. Shortly afterwards another six depth charges were dropped, forcing the submarine to the surface.

The damaged submarine tried to escape but Kiwi and Moa turned towards the submarine and fired star shells and illuminated the target with their searchlight and signaling lamp while Kiwi opened fire with their 4" deck gun. At least one of Kiwi's rounds impacted the submarine. Although damaged, I-1 returned fire with their deck gun and machine guns. Two enemy shells passed very close to Kiwi and three very close to Moa.

Closing, Kiwi deliberately rammed the submarine on the port side, aft of the conning tower. Numerous gunfire hits also impacted the submarine. Kiwi again rammed the submarine and aboard the submarine at least one crew member was observed to be hit by machine gun fire. A third ramming damaged both vessels, damaging the bow of Kiwi and forcing the ship to break off her attack while Moa continued to chase the submarine until it hit the reef near Kamimbo Bay and was disabled after an hour long battle.

For his actions, Captain Bridson earned two American awards: the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and Navy Cross. During the attack, the Leading Signalman Campbell Buchanan operated Kiwi's searchlight and was hit and mortally wounded but remained at his post until relieved. On January 31, 1943 he died of his wounds at hospital at Tulagi and posthumously earned the US Navy Cross and was mention in dispatches.

Afterwards returned to Devonport near Auckland and dry docked to repair the bow. Afterwards, Kiwi returned to the Solomon Islands until the end of the war. On April 18, 1944 assigned to Lt.Cdr. Arthur Allan Bell until October 7, 1944 assigned to T/Lt. James Frederick Allen O'Neill, RNZNVR.

During August 1945 when the war ended, returned to Auckland to clear New Zealand minefields. Afterwards, Kiwi was placed into reserve status and mothball storage.

Memorials
Buchanan is buried at Bourail War Cemetery at grave 8, 20.

Postwar
Recommissioned as a New Zealand Navy training ship during 1948-1949, then again in 1951-1952 and finally 1954-1956. During 1964, sold for scrap metal and broken up soon afterwards.

References
Navy Cross awards to members of Foreign Allies in World War II - Bridson, Gordon citation
Night action off Guadalcanal - HMS Kiwi and submarine, 30 January 1943 by Russell Clark
CWGC - Campbell Howard Buchanan

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Last Updated
January 10, 2018

 

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