No. 31 Dive Bomber Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War

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No.31 Dive-Bomber Squadron, RNZAF, was a short-lived squadron that spent two months fighting on Bougainville in May-July 1944 before being disbanded as the role of the RNZAF changed.

The squadron trained at Gisborne, the only RNZAF base on the east coast of New Zealand. It replaced No.30 Squadron when that unit moved towards the fighting, and like No.30 Squadron was equipped with the Grumman Avenger.

In May 1944 squadron left Gisborne. Six of its aircraft were flown onto Bougainville, while the rest of the aircrew flew to the island in transport aircraft and took over the aircraft left behind by No.30 Squadron.

The squadron spent two months on Bougainville. It had two main tasks. The first was to take part in the constant stream of attacks on Rabaul and the nearby Gazelle Peninsula. Second was to attack the Japanese positions on Bougainville. Its most active day was 30 June when nine aircraft flew 27 sorties and droped 27 tons of bombs on suspected Japanese positions at the southern end of Empress Augusta Bay.

An unusual target were the many gardens that the Japanese were cultivating on Bougainville to make up for the loss of contact with the rest of the Japanese Empire. At first these gardens were sprayed with diesel oil. In later attacks the diesel was followed with incendiary bombs. Although some damage was done these guardens remained in use until the end of the war or until they were captured during the Australian offensive of 1944-45.

After returning from Bougainville the squadron was disbanded in August 1944.

December 1943-August 1944: Grumman TBF Avenger

December 1943-May 1944: Gisborne, New Zealand
May-July 1944: Bougainville



How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 February 2022), No.31 Dive Bomber Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War,

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