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Old 1st October 2018, 19:27
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
Alter Hase
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Paris, France
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Two incidents of friendly barges being strafed by US fighters in Solomons.

On 5 December 1943 a former Japanese barge now used by New Zealanders after capture was being used to transport a padre to Tambama to visit his parishioners and conduct the SUnday service, but became grounded at Suanatalia, off Vella Lavella. A large American flag had been draped across the deck and a large white star painted on the roof of the wheelhouse. Five New Zealanders had gone over the side to push the barge off the coral reef when two American Corsair fighters appeared and commenced a strafing run. Two soldiers, Sapper F. L. Knipe and Corporal J. J. Todd, were killed, and another, Sapper A. T. Quirke, was wounded. The dead men were from 20th Field Company, and the death were flet very keenly.
An inquiry was later held, and the explanation given was that the flight leader had simply been test-firing his guns and his wingman had followed suit. Major Generam Harmon acknowledged that there had been a flagrant breach of safety regulations and gross neglicence. He informed the New Zealanders that one of the pilots had been killed in combat, while the other had received forfeiture of hald a month's pay and a formal reprimand.
Source: book "The Battle for Vella Lavella: The Allied Recapture of Solomon Islands Territory, August 15-September 9, 1943" by Reg Newell

On 16 October 1943, a US barge left Matu Suroto for Wataro with the intention of delivering supplies and gear to New Zealand troops. At 0915 hrs, when the barge was in open water just south of Mundi Mundi, four Corsairs were sighted. One peeled off, dove straight at the barge, and opened fire. It killed the coxswain, N. Blackmore, USNR, and wounded C.W. Sorrels, USNR, and two New Zealandes, Pte Lincoln and Pte N D Kingon, both of 16 MT Cpy ASC. Lincoln's arm had to be amputated, and he later died. "Lt L.T? McMillan and the coxswain had a marvelous escape, the steerting wheel being splintered and the barge well peppered." They were the only ones left uninjured, so he immediately headed back to Matu Suroto at full speed. The New Zealanders were perplexed by the attack, since no enemy barges had been seen in daylight for at leats three weeks prior to the attack.
In order to prevent further casualties, orders were issued that "in view of the Air Force practice of testing guns on wrecked barges round the coast, wrecks will be given a wide berth and it is forbidden to visit them."
Source: book "The Battle for Vella Lavella: The Allied Recapture of Solomon Islands Territory, August 15-September 9, 1943" by Reg Newell

The above text is a near-complete summary of the book and the contradiction between the US coxswain being killed in one sentence, and the coxswain and a NZ Lt surviving unhurt in another is in the book!

Regarding the second incident, the two dead were probably:
1) F2C Merlin Dale BLACKMORE, a crew of USS Fuller (APA-7). Source:
2) Pte William Franck Lincoln. Source:

An American report describes this attack from the air, available here:
(no more time to retype it there, Brian ask if you don't have access)
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