|Pilot Flight Sergeant Ronald Charles Warren, NZ425959 (POW, survived)
Crashed June 21, 1945
Built by Vought. Constructors Number 5815. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1D Corsair bureau number 50568. Disassembled and loaded as cargo aboard USS Kwajalein (CVE-98). On July 19, 1944 departed the United States across the Pacific to Espiritu Santo.
Assigned to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as Corsair
serial number NZ5402 with code 02. On August 5, 1944 assembled by Unit 60 on Espiritu Santo. On October 9, 1944 assigned to 23 Squadron. On October 26, 1944 assigned to 20 Squadron. On May 20, 1945 assigned to 24 Squadron. Finally, assigned back to 20 Squadron during June 1945. No known nickname or nose art.
On June 21, 1945 took off from Jacquinot Bay Airfield at 7:45am piloted by Flight Sergeant Ronald Charles Warren on a patrol mission over Rabaul and the Gazelle Peninsula with wingman F4U Corsair piloted by F/Sgt Turner. After searching the Rabaul area for targets unsuccessfully, the pair flew eastward to the Duke of York Islands at low level.
While flying on the northwest side of Ulu Island, Turner spotted an empty canoe on the beach. The pair climbed to 1,200' to initiate a strafing run. Afterwards, this Corsair hit a palm tree and crashed into the jungle roughly 150' to 200' from the shore of Ulu Island. When this Corsair failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). This aircraft was officially written off the books at Jacquinot Bay.
After the crash, this Corsair was observed by other RNZAF aircraft at 150-200' inland on Ulu Island and was observed to be completely wrecked, and no sign of the pilot was observed.
Fate of the Pilot
At roughly 400' during his dive, Warren lost consciousness and blacked out. When he awoke, he was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW). Afterwards, Warren was transported to Tunnel Hill POW Camp where he was detained with other Allied prisoners until the end of the Pacific War. He was the only New Zealand POW to survive captivity to be liberated.
On September 7, 1945 Warren was among a group of 28 former POWs who were taken aboard HMAS Vendetta at Rabaul and were transported to Jacquinot Bay and admitted to the hospital. On September 8, 1945 he was interrogated about his experiences as a prisoner and photographed at the hospital.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4U-1D Corsair 50568
"50568 (MSN 5815) to New Zealand as NZ5402"
ADF Serials - NZ Serials Corsair NZ5402
New Zealand Fighter Pilot Association Journal, Nov, Volume 29, p.20-22, (2000)
RNZAF - Interrogation Report - NZ425959 Warren, Ronald Charles
"W/O Ron Warren, a member of No 20 Squadron, was posted missing believed killed on 21st June 1945. With his No 2 F/Sgt C. H. Turner, he was on a routine Gazelle Peninsula patrol taking off from Jacquinot Bay at 0745 hours. He was last seen by F/Sgt Turner strafing a canoe on the NW coast of Ulu Island, in the Duke of York group. A subsequent search revealed an F4U on the NW side of Ulu Island, 150 to 200 feet from the shore. The aircraft appeared to have been completely wrecked. There was no sign of the Pilot. W/O Warren was a member of a party of 28 European Service personnel taken aboard H.M.A.S. VENDETTA at Rabaul on the morning of 7th September 1945. His interrogation is as follows:"
Missing Aircrew Investigation Unit "Interrogation:
NZ425959 Warren, Ronald Charles W/O Missing Believed Killed" September 8, 1945
RNZAF MPIU Photograph 7685 "Jacquinot Bay 8th Sept. 1945 NZ P.O.W W/O Warren at Jacquinot Bay (the only NZ P.O.W. found alive at Rabaul)."
Prisoner of War: Rabaul, New Britain by Jose Holguin:
"In early May , three new Marine airmen joined us. They were to be the last except for a New Zealand pilot by the name of Ronnie Warran [sic, Warren] who in late July, 1945 [sic June 21, 1945], flew too low wile strafing a truck and hit the palm trees... During that time he brought us up to date on how the war had progressed up until he had gone down and also told us about an American prisoner by the name of Sanger [sic Zanger pilot of FG-1 Corsair 14417] who had been held at the same place with him, but who had been killed trying to escape."
Thanks to Henry Sakaida and Edward Rogers for additional information.
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June 23, 2018