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Royal New Zealand Air Force

no. 56 unit

no. 56 unit

A mobile GCI unit, No. 56, was formed in New Zealand in July 1943 under the command of Pilot Officer Lawrence1 and was installed at Munda in September. The Americans were setting up a station on Kokohale Island just off Munda, but as theirs was a fixed set which it was expected would take a considerable time to install, the New Zealand unit began operations immediately. One of its controllers, Flying Officer Bell,2 was a New Zealander and the others were Americans. At the beginning of 1944 the unit was ordered to return to Guadalcanal and its equipment was dismantled and packed ready for the move. However, as the American unit was not yet functioning satisfactorily, it was instructed to continue operating for some time longer. It finally ceased operations at the end of February, handing over its equipment to the Americans. During its tour of duty it was responsible for three successful interceptions resulting in the destruction of enemy aircraft.

1 Fg Off E. Lawrence; Wanganui; born Lytham, England, 7 Mar 1907; radio audition officer.

2 Fg Off L. D. Bell; Taihape; born Hunterville, 4 Jan 1912; farmer.