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Merle Farland
Methodist Nurse in the Solomon Islands

Click For EnlargementNew Zealander Merle Stephanie Farland was born February 26, 1906 and worked as a piano teacher. During the Great Depression, she became a nurse and during 1938 assigned to the Solomon Islands as a Methodist missionary.

In 1942, when civilians were evacuated from the Solomons, she decided to say at her post at Bilua village on Vella LaVella, and was 36 years old. During the Japanese occupation, She aided coastwatchers Jack Keenan and Henry Josselyn and assisted the crew of B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24531.

On December 3, 1942, it was requested that she relocate to Segi. Using a native canoe she arrived on December 6, 1942. There, she assisted coastwatcher Donald Kennedy, operating his teleradio. The first message she received was ordering her to be evacuated. Regardless, on December 16, 1942 assisted another B-17 crew.

On December 20, 1942 a U.S. Navy PBY Catalina from VP-91 piloted by Paschal that landed at Segi, withdrawing Farland, 13 Solomon Island Police (SIP) and fourteen Japanese Prisoners of War (POWs) flying them to Tulagi Seaplane Base.

U.S. Navy PBY Catalina from VP-91 piloted by Paschal landed at Segi, withdrawing Farland, 13 S.I.P. and fourteen Japanese prisoners, returning them to "Ringbolt" Florida Islands near Tulagi.

Based on her sudden appearance in the American base and her vague resemblance to a famous aviatrix, a false rumor began that she was Amelia Earhart. This myth was repeated by some veterans.

Memorials
Farland passed away on May 21, 1988 at age 82. She is buried at Purewa Cemetery in Meadowbank, Auckland at block M, row 27.

References
Lonely Vigil (1977) pages 112-115, 117, 138-139, 144
Solomon Islands Historical Encyclopaedia 1893-1978 - Merle Farland
Auckland Memorial - Merle Stephanie Farland
FindAGrave - Merle Stephanie Farland


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