Peter St George Bruce Turnbull was born February 9, 1917 to parent Archibald Turnbull and Maud (née Gwendolen) Turnbull in Glen Innes, New South Wales, Australia. Turnbull enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with service number 481. He completed flight training as a trainee pilot at No 1 Flying Training School A Course between January 1939 until October 1939. In July 1940 sent overseas to the Middle East.
During World War II, Turnbull became one of the leading fighter pilots in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). In total, he was credited with twelve aerial victory claims (including nine in North Africa and three in New Guinea).
Assigned to No. 3 Squadron and was credited with nine aerial victory claims during the North Africa and Syria-Lebanon campaigns. Turnbull earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his role in the Africa and Syria-Lebanon campaigns where he claimed nine aerial victories.
On May 21, 1941 while off duty, a group of pilots including Turnbull plus Bill Carson, Ken Carson, and John F. Jackson swam in the Dead Sea and were photographed floating on the surface.
On June 6, 1941 war correspondent Damien Parer photographed Pilot Officer Turnbull holding his flight gear while testing new P-40B Tomahawk fighter planes at Lydda Airfield in Palestine (today Lod, Israel).
On June 15, 1941 in the evening he intercepted and shot down a French Glen Martin piloted by SCH Jacques Tanchoux over south Syria. Afterwards, the crash site was visited by pilots from the squadron and the tail wreckage photographed and the bodies of the crew buried and marked with stones.
Afterwards, returned to Australia.
In March 1942, assigned to No. 75 Squadron flying the P-40E Kittyhawk at 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby. In New Guinea, he claimed three aerial victories.
In May 1942, Squadron Leader Turnbull became the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of No. 76 Squadron flying the P-40E Kittyhawk at No. 1 Strip (Fall River) near Milne Bay and participated in the Battle of Milne Bay.
On August 27,
1942 took off from No. 1 Strip (Fall River) near Milne Bay piloted P-40E Kittyhawk A29-92 a mission to search for and strafe Japanese positions near K. B. Mission. Soon after take off, this Kittyhawk crashed near Sanderson Bay. The cause of the crash was never established,
but it was believed he was hit by small arms fire.
Recovery of Remains
On September 4, 1942 the crash site was located and Turnbull's remains were recovered by the Australian Army.
Turnbull was officially declared dead the day of the mission at age 25. After his remains were recovered on September 4, 1942, he was buried at Dowa Dowa at the base of a coconut palm tree in a grave marked by a wooden cross was decorated with a DFC medal and "Sqn. Leader P. Turnbull DFC 76 Sqn. RAAF Killed In Action 30.8.42 [sic 27.8.42]. Next, he was buried at Milne Bay War Cemetery with a white wooden cross that reads "481 Sqn. Ldr. P. B. Turnbull, D.F.C. R.A.A.F. 27.8.42". He is permanently buried at Bomana War Cemetery at A2. C. 27.
On September 14, 1942 his former airfield, No. 3 Strip was renamed "Turnbull
Field" in his honor.
WW2 Nominal Roll - Peter St George Bruce Turnbull, 481
Pacific Wrecks - P-40E Kittyhawk A29-92
CWGC - Peter St George Bruce Turnbull
Squadron Leader Peter St George Bruce Turnbull (photos, grave photo)
Milne Bay 1942 pages 31, 43, 45-47, 68, 80-81, 107, 117, 122, 161, 167-168, 169 (Turnbull photo), 249, 283-284, 288 (artwork), 355, 393, 434 (photos Turbull Field plaque), 451-452 (Turnbull poems), 494 (index Turnbull)