Rabaul’s notorious reputation grew quickly among those tasked with bombing the region. But as Tom Spencer describes, none would experience it more closely than an intrepid New Zealand airman

RNZAF PERSONNEL WITH TBF-1 AVENGER NZ2521 AT PIVA, BOUGAINVILLE, ON MAY 31, BEFORE THE FATEFUL SORTIE WHEN IT WAS LOST AFMNZ self-repatriation were slimmer still. However, for those shot down over Japanese-held islands, the chance of escape was, surely, impossible.

Should an Allied aircraft be shot down over Europe, then baled-out aircrew had a chance to evade capture and go on the run. Most attempts ended in capture, and the odds for those who sprung themselves from German camps were equally slim.

Fewer Axis POWS sought to escape from camps in Britain, Canada, Australia or the United States, as their odds of a successful

But at least one New Zealander did not see it that way...

Living up to its rep

In September 1943, six Grumman TBF-1 Avengers arrived in New Zealand aboard the SS William Keith. These were the first of 48

Want to read more?

This is a premium article and requires an active subscription.

Existing subscriber? Sign in now

No subscription?

Pick one of our introductory offers