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Truk Lagoon in 1945, a Seafire of the BPF & S Lt M.H. Payne

Published: 15 Nov 2017

The following was received through the FAAOA Facebook page from 'Kwajalein MIA Project'


Hello, I just found this Facebook page and I was wondering if you could assist with some research I am doing. I am the leader of a group called the 'Kwajalein MIA Project' (we have a Facebook page here, and also a website at

I am researching a loss at Truk Lagoon in 1945, a Seafire of the BPF. The plane was lost over Truk Lagoon during Operation Inmate. The pilot was S/Lt M.H. Payne. I have gathered quite a bit of info on the loss. However, I am trying to track down a photo of S/Lt Payne. He was with the Newton-le-Willows unit when he was in training.

I've had a researcher attempting to contact the Newton-le-Willows unit, but have not heard from her in some time. My team is mounting an expedition to Truk Lagoon next year to search for American planes that went down in the lagoon with MIA's associated with them, and we are also keeping an eye out for the Seafire.

I'd like to obtain a photo of S/Lt Payne to go with our expedition pre-report, as well as to help tell his story.

Would it be possible for you to contact me at [email protected]? Any assistance would be highly appreciated!

All the best,

Dan Farnham, Project Leader
Kwajalein MIA Project

We suggested the FAA Museum as a port of call, but does anyone out there have any light to share on this?  We then received a response from Dan Farnham as follows.

Good morning, and thanks for the response. I've been in touch with the FAAM and I've obtained the squadron diary for that day from them, S/Lt Payne was part of No. 801 NAS off the HMS Implacable. I've also obtained a copy of a report from the squadron leader, Lt/Cdr G.P. Campbell Horsfall. I've also sourced accounts from two books, one being 'The Forgotten Fleet' by John Winton (published 1969) and the other being 'The British Pacific Fleet: The Royal Navy's Most Powerful Strike Force' by David Hobbs (published 2011). I've also sourced what info I could find from Forces War Records, although that is limited in scope. The limiting factor there is that no source of info I've found lists Payne's service number, so that's why I haven't been able to obtain his full service file yet. I'd be more than happy to forward my research results and summary, and I'd be happy to provide all research that might help. Any additional tips you would have would be most appreciated. And I also have a couple other information bits. I will definitely keep you posted, and would welcome further discussion on this. I'm in the process of finalizing my expedition proposal, and would be delighted if I could obtain a photo of Payne if possible. Any assistance recieved will of course be credited to the source and those helping. Please feel free to post to your website and social media, and also to Mr. Kerslake. I'd also welcome contact to my Gmail account on this. I'm about to head to work for the day, but will be more than happy to provide much more info later on. Thanks again for the response, and all the best,


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