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    Turnbull Airfield (No. 3 Strip) Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
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Ruff Jan 17, 1943

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5th AF March 7, 1943

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5th AF Association 1990

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Richard E Smith 1943

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5th AF Association 1990

Turnbull Airfield was located near Gili Gili bordering Swinger Bay (also known as Stringer Bay) inside Milne Bay. Prewar and during World War II located in the Territory of Papua. During 1942 known as "No. 3 Strip". On September 14, 1942 renamed Turnbull Field. Also known as Turnbull Airfield. Today located in Milne Bay Province (MBP) in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

This area was owned by Lever Brothers and planted with coconut palm trees to harvest copra.

This airfield was under construction during the Battle of Milne Bay. a single runway was built running roughly east to west into Milne Bay. During its early days of operation, the strip was made of 5,000' of marston matting (Pierced Steel Plank, PSP).

World War II Pacific Theatre History
During the Battle of Milne Bay, the Japanese 5th Kure SNLF was advancing from the east. Defending the strip were Australian A-Coy (25th Battalion), 61st Battalion and US Army 43rd Engineers. Barbed wire was strung across the runway, and half tracks, guns and mortars on the far side. Japanese attacked the strip on August 31, 1942 between 1:00-5:00am, failing to capture the strip, they pull back.

Naming Honor
On September 14, 1943 this airfield was officially re-named Turnbull Field, to honor Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Squadron Leader Peter St George Bruce Turnbull killed August 27, 1942 piloting P-40E Kittyhawk A29-92.

Allied & Japanese missions against No. 3 Strip (Turnbull) and Milne Bay
August 4, 1942 - April 14, 1943

B-17F Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-24540
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

B-17F "Fire Ball Mail" Serial Number 41-24551
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2639
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

B-24D-5-CO Liberator Serial Number 41-23824
Destroyed January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid

Lockheed Hudson Mark IIIa Serial Number A16-239
Damaged during January 17, 1943 during Japanese air raid, destroyed January 20, 1943

American units based at Turnbull (No. 3 Strip)
8th FG, 36th FS (P-39) Garbutt Field Sept 18, 42 - Feb 22, 43 Mareeba
8th FG, 80th FS (P-39) November 10, 1942 - late January 1943 Mareeba
43rd BG, 403rd BS (B-17) Iron Range 11 23, 42 - 01 21, 43 Mareeba
418th NFS (P-38, P-70) from USA Nov 2 - Nov 22, 1943 Dobodura
71st TRG, 82nd TRS (B-25, P-39) USA 11-6 - 11 23 43 Dobodura
421st NFS (P-70) from USA Jan 4 - Feb 1, 1944 Nadzab
RAAF units based at Turnbull (No. 3 Strip)
6 Squadron (Hudson) Ward Drome December 14, 1942 - November 26, 1943 Vivigani

Disused since the war, only the former runway area remains visible.

Japanese Mass Grave Marker
After the August 31, 1942 battle, two privates erected a simple sign on Japanese mass grave at the edge of the strip. Originally the sign read:

This marks the westernmost point of the Japanese advance
August 1942
85 Unknown Japanese Marines Lie Buried Here

The monument became a popular spot for photos to be taken. In May 1944 a permanent plaque was established.

Turnbull Field Monument
A metal plaque was placed at the airfield telling the history of Sqn Ldr Peter Turnbull, erected by donations from family and veterans, and propeller donated by the RAAF.

You are standing on the eastern side of
what was in 1942 No. 3 Airstrip later named
Turnbull Field
In Honor of Sqn Ldr Peter St George Turnbull, D. F. C.
C. O. of No 76 Squadron
Born Armidale NSW 9-2-1917
Killed in Action 27-9-1942 during a strafing
run on enemy near Sandersons Bay
To Strive - To Seek - To Find
Not To Yield
Erected by donations from family, veterans
and those who remember
Propeller donated by R.A.A.F.

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Last Updated
April 7, 2020


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