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  F4U-1D Corsair Serial Number NZ5402 Code 02
No. 20 Squadron

Former Assignments
No. 23 Squadron
No. 24 Squadron
RNZAF Sept 8, 1945
Pilot  Flight Sergeant Ronald Charles Warren, NZ425959 (POW, survived)
Crashed  June 21, 1945

Aircraft History
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.

Wartime History
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 No. 23 Squadron. On October 26, 1944 assigned to No. 20 Squadron. On May 20, 1945 assigned to No. 24 Squadron. During June 1945 returned to 20 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On June 21, 1945 at 7:45am took off from Jacquinot Bay Airfield 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 Airfield.

After the crash, his Corsair was observed by other RNZAF aircraft crashed roughly 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
In fact, while diving at an altitude of roughly 400', 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 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 Allied prisoner that survived the war were embarked aboard HMAS Vendetta (D69) at Rabaul then transported to Jacquinot Bay and admitted to the hospital. On September 8, 1945 Warren was photographed at the hospital and interrogated by Missing Aircrew Investigation Unit (MAIU) about his experiences as a prisoner and the fate of other New Zealanders that remained missing.

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 [1945], 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."
Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph - Ronald Charles Warren
Pacific Scrapbook 1943–1947 (1997) page 90 (photo)
Thanks to Henry Sakaida and Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
July 31, 2023

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