NZ’s Norfolk troops ‘are forgotten heroes’
About 2000 New Zealand troops stationed at Norfolk Island in the 1940s are some of the forgotten heroes of the Second World War, according to a Hastings man.
Mr Ned Wylie, Roberts St, was a member of N-force which was used to keep Norfolk Island secure from Japanese invasion.
But the force, under American command, rates little mention in historical writing and travel brochures about the island which was used as a convict colony in the 18th century.
With the Anzus row in full swing, Mr Wylie believes people should remember the role the island, with its American commanders, played in New Zealand defences during the war.
He believes the Americans and N-force stopped what could have been full-scale Japanese attacks on New Zealand.
“If the Japanese had taken the island they could have bombed any part of New Zealand or Australia.”
Mr Wylie who was a corporal with the group kept a dairy of daily events on the island, which was one of the focus points for allied planes during the war.
That diary could be one of the only records of the force’s time on Norfolk Island.
The group’s main task was to defend the island’s aerodrome used by the northward-bound _ fighter and bomber planes.
He said the island was a “hot spot” and necessary for the American forces wanting to establish air supremacy in the South Pacific.
About 150 planes used the island’s air strip each month and dawn to dusk patrols of the Pacific flew out from the base.
Mr Wylie remembers one day in August, 1943, when a Flying Fortress made a forced landing on Norfolk Island.
“Visibility was at treetop level and the radar station picked up the plane flying in circles 90 miles south of the island.”
The plane was guided to land on the airstrip, but the episode proved to Mr Wylie that Japanese bombers could also land and from that position bomb selected targets in New Zealand.
Members of N-force left the island in December, 1943, leaving little evidence of their presence.
All the buildings used by the group and other traces of their time on Norfolk Island were demolished.
“That history of the island was not recorded,’ said Mr Wylie.
Could have bombed NZ
Photo caption – Ned Wylie…”if the Japanese had taken the island they could have bombed any part New Zealand or Australia.”