The town of Maryborough lies 13 miles WSW from the mouth of the Mary river in Great Sandy Strait. The airfield lies 2 miles N. of the town of Maryborough on the east side of the main road to Maryborough, and ½ mile from the NW bank of the Mary River below town reach. Before the outbreak of war Maryborough was a small civil airfield, this was secured for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) use in December 1940 under the provisions of National Security (General) Regulations and more land was acquired to extend the runways and facilities. The resulting airfield was 30 feet above mean sea level, and had 3 bitumen all weather runways, two of 1100 x 50 yds and one of 1765 x 50 yds. The station had two permanent hangers of 112 feet x 95 feet and a control building on the SW. side of the landing area.
RAAF Headquarters, RAAF Maryborough was opened on Thursday September 18th 1941, on the same date the stations training unit, No. 3 Wireless Air Gunners School (3WAGS) was formed; both the station and the school were under the command of Wing Commander J.S. Cardell. The first intake for 3WAGS was on November 16th with the commencement of Course 19. The school was to complete 30 courses over the next three years at Maryborough before being closed on December 6th 1944. On November 11th 1944 No. 1 Radar School (1RS) arrived on the station having relocated from RAAF Richmond.
RN use of the airfield
In the spring of 1945, the Admiralty were deploying mobile naval air support units to to provide aviation repair and servicing facilities for the Brutish Pacific Fleet (BPF) as it began operations in the war against Japan. Only one of the 6 units had been deployed as planned, following the Fleet as the front-line moved nearer to the Japanese mainland, the other 5 had been installed at sites in Australia loaned from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The station at Maryborough was proposed as a possible site for Mobile Naval Air Base (MONAB) VI until the unit was called into the forward area.
Flag officer Naval Air Pacific (FONAP) planning staff sent Captain McClintock, Commanding Officer MONAB VI, in company with Commander Wilson, Commander Coote, Commander Kennet and Lieutenant Commander Lavers, to visit RAAF Station Maryborough, on May 19th. As a result of this visit the decision was taken to accept Maryborough as a suitable location for MONAB VI, in lieu of another station becoming available.
The advance party of MONAB VI arrived at RAAF Maryborough on May 24th. A second party comprising of 2 Officers, 6 Petty Officers and 30 ratings arrived on the 28th. One of the main functions of the MONAB was to hold a stock of reserve aircraft, mainly Corsair and Avengers, for squadron replacements. The first RN aircraft, a corsair, arrived at Maryborough, along with six (loaned) vehicles of the units MT section on the 29th.
Commissioned as an RN Air Station
MONAB VI commissioned the station as HMS NABSTOCK, Royal naval Air Station Maryborough, on June 1st 1945 at a ceremony attended by Rear Admiral Portal (FONAP). The unit was to share the establishment with the RAAF Radar School effectively lodging on the airfield which nominally remained under RAAF control. At this time the unit had limited capabilities since most of its stores, equipment and vehicles were still on passage, the first transport, the EMPIRE CAPTAIN docked at Sydney on May 30th and the stores and equipment then had to be transhipped by road and rail to Maryborough. The second transport, the EMPIRE SPLENDOUR was diverted and docked in Brisbane on June 15th.
The first squadron to arrive at Maryborough was 'A' flight of 1701 Ait Sea Rescue (ASR) squadron on June 15th, operating 4 Sea Otter amphibians which disembarked from the escort carrier HMS BEGUM. Next to arrive on June 23rd were 1845 (Corsair) Squadron from Transportable Aircraft Maintenance Yard (TAMY) 1 at
RNAMY Archerfield, Brisbane where It had reformed with 24 Corsair IVs. Next to arrive was 843 Corsair) Squadron which disembarked 24 Corsair IVs from the escort carrier HMS
Both Corsair squadrons departed on July 24th; 1845 for
RNAS Nowra (MONAB I), and 1843 for
RNAS Jervis Bay
(MONAB V). The aircraft of 1701 alternated between operating from Maryborough and RNAS Bankstown (MONAB II) in Sydney, and they also departed for Bankstown on July 24th. On the sane date a detachment of Seafires from 899 Seafire Operational Training Unit at RNAS Schofields
(MONAB III) arrived on the station in preparation for carrying out Deck Lansing Training (DLT) for Australian pilots on No 1 RANVR conversion course; the 12 pilots carried out their DLT sessions in the Fleet Carrier INDOMITABLE between the 24th & 27th of July, all being certified for Deck Landing after completing 10 landings apiece. The successful pupils received RANVR(A) commissions and were to form the nucleus of the Australian Fleet Air Arm. The detachment returned to RNAS Schofields
over Japan and reorganisation
August was a busy month at Maryborough, 1701 'A' Flight returned from RNAS Bankstown on August 7th to resume its detachment, and a period of Deck landing practice for pupils of No. 2 RANVR conversion course was undertaken, this time utilizing the escort carrier
ARBITER operating off the Brisbane coast. The DLT session was under way when Victory over Japan was announced on August 15th and appears to have been postponed. On August 23rd 1834 & 1836 (Corsair) and 849 (Avenger) squadrons disembarked from HMS VICTORIOUS, the latter departed for Mascot airfield, Sydney, the next day.
On the 28th a new resident unit arrived, 706 Pool & Refresher Flying Training Squadron having been transferred from RNAS Schofields
with a squadron strength of 36 aircraft, 6 each Avenger, Barracuda, Corsair. Firefly, Hellcat, & Seafire. Another unit to arrive from Schofields on the 29th was 1770 (Firefly) squadron; this was transferred to make room at Schofields for squadrons disembarking from HMS INDEFATIGABLE. MONAB VI was not equipped to handle Fireflies so a detachment of 13 men from MONAB III was assembled from the personnel of Mobile Servicing (MS) 3 to travel to RNAS Maryborough to support 1770 & 706 squadrons the detachment comprised of Lt. Romanoff, CPO Hughes, 8 POs, 2 Leading Air Fitters and one steward. This party left Schofields for Maryborough by train, and was issued with equipment from MONAB VI on reaching Maryborough.
September started quietly, 899 squadron returned for to conduct DLT with
ARBITER to complete the second and final RANVR conversion course during the period 10th to 13th, again all trainees qualified for Deck Landing. The personnel of 1834 & 1836 squadrons departed on the 25th to re-embark in VICTORIOUS for passage to the UK where they were to disband upon arrival, their aircraft had been flown to RNAS Bankstown for disposal earlier in the month. 1770 squadron was disbanded at Maryborough on the 30th leaving only 706 and 1701 on the station.
As part of a review of the naval air support in the Pacific theatre the Admiralty announced in October that four Mobile Units were to be disbanded in early November 1945, these were to be MONAB I, III, IV and VII; MONAB II, V & VI plus TAMY I would continue operations in support of fleet operations and the reception and disposal of aircraft arising from the disbandment of squadrons as the BPF began to reduce its size. As part of this downsizing operation MONAB V was to replace MONAB I at Nowra and MONAB VI would replace MONAB III at Schofields. MONAB VII personnel were to be redistributed to other units, many joining TAMY I. MR 2 was to be reallocated from MONAB V to MONAB VI.
The Sea Otters of 1701 'A' Flight again flew south to operate from RNAS Bankstown on October 15th returning to Maryborough the 21st. October also saw the departure of 706 Pool Squadron which moved to
RNAS Nowra (MONAB I) on the 24th, its strength having reduced to two of each aircraft type in service with BPF. Flying operations ceased on October 24th once 1701 adrift had landed andn MONAB VI began migrating men and equipment to their new home at RNAS Schofields, New South Wales. On November 1st 1701 'A' Flight left Maryborough for the final time, the squadron moving to TAMY 1 at Archerfield in preparation for redeployment to Hong Kong.
The stations flying safety record was very good, in the five and a half months of operations only four accidents are recorded: Firefly MB503 of 1770 squadron flown by Sub-Lt A.R. Thomas RNVR, Stalled on approach during an Aerodrome Dummy Deck Landing session on September 6th; Hellcat FN378 of 706 Squadron, flown by t Lt DR Crabtree) RNVR, made a forced wheels-up landing, in a farmer's backyard after his throttle linkage became disconnected at the bulkhead on September 8th,; a 706 squadron Corsair, JT313 flown by Sub-Lt N. Williamson RNVR, swung on landing and ground looped, damaging one wing & tail plane which struck the ground on September 29th; a 1701 Sea Otter, JN118 flown by Sub-Lt R.N.C. Carr-Gregg RNVR, had its Starboard oleo collapse on landing on October 16th.
Returned to RAAF Control
HMS NABSTOCK paid off at Maryborough on November 15th 1945, the unit transferring its commission to RNAS Schofields
on the same date, MONAB III, HMS NABTHORPE having also been paid off the same day, A small retard patty remained at Maryborough to complete the clearing up operations and to hand the facilities back to the RAAF, the last RN personnel left by train in early December 1945.
No. 1 Radar School was to complete over 100 courses, instructing RAAF, UASF, and RAF aircrew and maintenance personnel before it was transferred to RAAF Ballarat in November 1945, the unit having completed its move by the 24th. Control of the airfield was transferred to the Department of Civil Aviation with effect from January 31st 1947, and RAAF. Maryborough was finally disposed of on June 10th 1947. Commercial operations began soon after the RAAF had left, the airport being operated by Maryborough City Council.
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