Latitude 33°43'00"S  Longitude  150°52'00"W

   

ACQUISITION

Airfield on loan form R.A.A.F.

 

COMMISSIONED

18 February 1945  as NABTHORPE
15 November 1945 as NABSTOCK
 

PAID OFF

15 November 1945 (NABTHORPE)
09 June 1946 (NABSTOCK)
 

COMMANDING OFFICER

 Commander (A) E.W. Kenton 15 Feb 1945
 Captain H.V.P. McClintock D.S.O. 15 Nov 1945
 

   

FUNCTION

The support of disembarked Squadrons.
The provision of a Crew Pool & Refresher Flying School (706 Naval Air Squadron)
 

ADDRESS

R.N. Air Station

Nowra,

New South Wales,

Australia

 

LOCALITY

 The airfield lies one mile S. of the town of Schofields, 19 mile. WNW of Sydney Bridge and 15 miles NNW of Bankstown (MONAB II)
 

LANDMARKS

Railway line to Sydney forms airfield's NE boundary. Eastern Creek, a tributary of the Hawkesbury River is W boundary.
 

ROAD AND RAIL ACCESS

 Sealed road to Quaker's Hill one half mile where there is a railway station on the Richmond line to Sydney.

   

 

   

CONTROL

Control Building

 

ELEVATION

50' above M.S.L.

 

RUNWAYS

Three, unsealed gravel pavement: -


04/24 QDM. 037° 217° .... 1335 x 50yds. 
11/29 QDM. 108° 288° .... 1500 x 50 yds. 

15/33 QDM. 148° 328° .... 1665 x 50 yds. 

 

TRACKS

50' perimeter tracks except runway ends 04 and 11.

 

OBSTRUCTIONS

Navigation

None.

Circuit

 

Approach

Trees surround, but approach fans have been cleared.

 

APPROACH

No special approach recommended.

 

WIND INDICATOR

 
   
   

HOMING - VISUAL

By day:

By night:

 

Supplied by MONAB

 

HOMING--RADIO

D/F:

Beacon:

 

Supplied by MONAB

 

APPROACH - VISUAL

By day:  

By night:  

Not known
Not known

 

APPROACH - RADIO

Not known

 

COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT

W/T and R/T:

VH/F:

 

Supplied by MONAB

GROUND RADAR

Not known 

 

   

ACCOMMODATION

At the time of transfer to Admiralty the station was still under construction with permanent accommodation for only 200. Tented accommodation provided for MOAB and squadron personnel.

 

approximate capacity:

MONAB

 Squadron

Officers:

50

140

Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings:

470

810

 

ARMOURIES

 

 

COMPASS BASE

One, concrete 70' diameter.

 

DISPERSAL

Four aprons outside of perimeter track, and one larger apron in centre of airfield.

 

HANGARS

 SE of landing area.

On arrival at Schofields MONAB 3 erected portable canvas hangers on the dispersal aprons while airfield construction continued.

 

Number /Type

Size

Door Height

Door Width

4 x Bellman

 187' 6" x 105'

25' 105'
4 x Dorland canvas ? ? ?
 

MEDICAL

 

 

METEOROLOGICAL

 

 

FUEL AND OIL

Aviation:

Not known.

M/T:

Not known.

Oil :

Not known.

   

TEST BASE

 

 

TEST BUTT

 

 

WORKSHOPS

 

 

VISITORS

 

 

EXPLOSIVES

 

 

BOMBING AND FIRING RANGES

 

Air to air

 

Air to ground and R. p. Firing

 

Live and practice bombing

 

Practice bombing

 

Assault training

 
   
   

Information taken from CB 4368 B. Admiralty Handbook of Naval Air Stations Aug. 45

 

List of first and second line squadrons, station flight and other flying units based at this location

 

702

 Instrument Flying Training & Checking Squadron

Formed here 04.09.1945.  Disbanded here 10.09.1946.

Equipped with Oxfords and Harvard IIbs

 

706

 Pool & Refresher Flying Training Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Jervis Bay 06.03.1945.  Moved to RNAS Maryborough 28.08.1945

Equipped with 6 each Avenger, Barracuda, Corsair, Firefly, Hellcat & Seafire

 

723

Fleet Requirements Unit

Moved here from RNAS Nowra 21.01.1946. Disbanded here 31.05.1946.

Equipped with Martinet Target Tugs and Corsair

 

724

Communications Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Bankstown 31.03.1946. Disbanded here 31.05.1946.

Equipped with Expeditor and Anson.

 

801

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from IMPLACABLE 09.09.1945. Re-embarked IMPLACABLE 16.01.1946.

Disembarked from IMPLACABLE 15.03.1946. Re-embarked IMPLACABLE 29.04.1946.

Equipped with Seafire L.III later Mk.XVII

 

812

 Torpedo, Bomber and Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from VENGEANCE 12.02.1946.  Re-embarked VENGEANCE 19.03.1946.

Equipped with Firefly

 

814

 Torpedo, Bomber and Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from VENERABLE 21.07.1945.  Re-embarked VENERABLE 13.08.1945.

Moved here from RNAS Nowra 22.01.1946. Embarked VENERABLE 13.03.1946.

Equipped with Barracuda II later Firefly

 

820

 

Torpedo, Bomber and Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 05.06.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 01.07.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 31.12.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 31.01.1946.

Equipped with Avenger

 

837

 

Torpedo, Bomber and Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from GLORY 13.08.1945.  Re-embarked GLORY 01.09.1945.

Equipped with Barracuda II

 

880

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from IMPLACABLE 25.08.1945. Disbanded here 11.09.1945.

Equipped with Seafire L.III

 

885

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from RULER 20.03.1945. Re-embarked RULER 04.04.1945.

Disembarked from RULER 05.04.1945. Re-embarked RULER 14.04.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 18.09.1945. Disbanded here 27.09.1945.

Equipped with Hellcat I & II

 

887

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 10 - 27.02.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 05 .06.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 07.07.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 18 .09.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 15.11.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 22 .12.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 31.01.1946.

Equipped with Seafire L.III

 

894

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 10 - 27.02.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 05 .06.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 07.07.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 18 .09.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 23.11.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 22 .12.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 31.01.1946.

Equipped with Seafire L.III

 

899

Safire Operational Training Unit

Disembarked from CHASER 23.04.1945. disbanded here 18.09.1945.

Operated No..i1 & No.2 RANVR conversion courses

Equipped with Seafire L.III

 

1770

Two seater Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 10 - 27.02.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 05.06.1945.  Moved to RNAS Maryborough 29.08.1945.

Equipped with Firefly I

 

1772

Two seater Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from RULER 18.03.1945. Embarked in INDEFATIGABLE 07.07.1945

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 18 .09.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 18.11.1945.

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 22 .12.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 31.01.1946.

Equipped with Firefly I

 

1790

Night Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from VINDEX 13.08.1945. Embarked in IMPLACABLE 16.01.1946.

Disembarked from IMPLACABLE 28.03.1946. Re-embarked IMPLACABLE 29.04.1946.

Equipped with Firefly INF

 

1831

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from GLORY 13.08.1945.  Re-embarked GLORY  01.09.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV

 

1834

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from VICTORIOUS 05 - 26.06.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV

 

1836

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from VICTORIOUS 05 - 2606.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV

 

1840

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from SPEAKER 23.02.1945. Re-embarked SPEAKER 09.03.1945.

Equipped with Hellcat II

 

1843

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from ARBITER 01 - 15.05.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV

 

1845

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from SLINGER 25.02.1945. Re-embarked SLINGER 11.03.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV

 

1850

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from VENGEANCE 12.01.1946. Re-embarked VENGEANCE 19.03.1946.

Equipped with Corsair IV

 

1851

Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Nowra 24.01.1946. Embarked VENERABLE 22.02.1946.

Equipped with Corsair IV

 

 

 

Part of a 695-acre estate previously held by the Pye family at Quaker’s Hill, New South Wales, which included the ‘Waawaar-Awaa’ homestead, was Selected as the site for a satellite aerodrome to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Station Richmond in 1941. The property was requisitioned by the government under the provisions of The National Security (General) Regulations and, in June 1942, the homestead was demolished and the surrounding land was cleared to make way for the construction of RAAF Station Schofields.

Work was slow to progress, and little had been done by mid-1944 when the airfield was chosen for transfer on loan to the Admiralty as shore-based air facility for the newly formed British Pacific Fleet. Construction work began again in earnest in late September 1944 when a detachment of No 2 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF, based at Randwick Racecourse Sydney, arrived on site, they were to remain until January 23rd 1945.

The airfield lies 1 mile south of the township of Schofields, 19 miles WNW of Sydney Harbour Bridge and 15 miles WNW from Bankstown aerodrome. The airfield is bounded on one side by the main railway line from Schofields to Sydney, and on another by a river. Quakers Hill lies to the South east.

 


RN use of the airfield

In the winter of 1944, the Admiralty were deploying mobile naval air support units to provide aviation repair and servicing facilities for the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) as it began operations in the war against Japan. Initially these units would be installed at locations in Australia and be called forward as the Front-line moved closer to the Japanese mainland. In the summer of 1944 an Admiralty inspection team had visited a number of existing Royal Australian Air Force stations that were proposed, four were selected; Nowra and Jervis Bay, approximately 80 miles south of Sydney, Schofields, 30 miles west of Sydney, and Bankstown, 12 miles South West of Sydney, and a works programme began to bring them up to Naval requirements. Nowra was to be ready by December 1944 and work began to run-down RAAF operations in preparation for handing over the airfield.

Schofields had been chosen for occupation by Mobile Naval Air Base No. III (MONAB III); the personnel arrived in Sydney on board the troopship ATHLONE CASTLE on January 25th 1945 and were disembarked to RN Barracks Sydney, HMS GOLDEN HIND and accommodated under canvas at Warwick Race course whilst waiting for the arrival of their vehicles and equipment on the transport S.S. ESSEX, which arrived at Sydney on February 4th. The advance party arrived on the site on February 5th to find the station was still under construction. The following day the station readiness was reported as: one operational runway and one Dorland transportable hanger erected by MONAB staff. The first week on the station was spent preparing the airfield for the arrival of squadron personnel and aircraft which were due when the BPF arrived in Sydney later that month.

Disembarked squadrons arrive: The first Squadrons to disembark from the BPF carriers arrived at Schofields only four days later on the February 10th, these being 887 and 894 (Seafire) and 1770 (Firefly) Squadrons from the Fleet Carrier HMS INDEFATIGABLE. All squadron personnel were accommodated under canvas, the station still having no permanent buildings.

 


Commissioned as an RN Air Station

IThe remaining elements of MONAB III arrived at Schofields on February 18th, and the station was commissioned as HMS NABTHORPE, Royal Naval Air Station Schofields on that date, Commander (A) E.W. Kenton in command.

A second Dorland hanger was completed for workshop use on February 23rd when 1840 (Hellcat) Squadron arrived on the station, disembarking from the escort carrier HMS SPEAKER. Further aircraft arrived on the 26th when 1845 (Corsair) Squadron disembarked from the escort carrier HMS SLINGER. No's 887, 894 & 1770 Squadrons re-embarked in INDEFATIGABLE on February 27th so relieving some of the overcrowding at the hastily prepared station.

During the first week of March the station’s resident flying unit, 706 Squadron, moved from RNAS Jervis Bay, arriving at Schofields on the 6th. Its task was to operate a Crew Pool & Refresher Flying School and was to be a large unit with a total strength of 36 aircraft, its equipment allocation was to be 6 each of Avenger, Barracuda, Corsair, Firefly, Hellcat & Seafire. 1840 squadron re-embarked their Hellcats in SPEAKER on the 9th and the Corsairs of 1845 re-joined SLINGER on the 11th. These were soon to be replaced on the 18th by 1772 (Firefly) Squadron and 885 (Hellcat) Squadron on the 20th , both disembarking from the escort carrier HMS RULER; the latter was to stay until April 4th before re-joining RULER.

April was a quieter month, with the departures of 885 squadron the Fireflies of 1772 were the only one front-line squadron remaining, and after completing their workup, 706 squadron commissioned at Schofields on April 10th. Next to arrive was 899 (Seafire) Squadron which disembarked from the escort carrier HMS CHASER on the 23rd as a Seafire Pool Squadron. The first of May brought 1843 (Corsair) Squadron disembarking from the escort carrier HMS ARBITER.

Victory in Europe: VE-Day, was celebrated at Schofields on May 9th (Victory in Europe was declared the day before) and the men of HMS NABTHORPE celebrated, with a specially prepared Victory menu which was served for the entire ship's company and squadrons covering Breakfast, Dinner, Tea, and Supper. The Corsairs of 1843 re-joining ARBITER on the 20th.

The BPF returns: At the start of June, the second large scale disembarkation of squadrons from the fleet began; 820 (Avenger), 887 & 894 (Seafire) and 1770 (Firefly) squadrons arriving at Schofields from INDEFATIGABLE on the 5th. 1834 & 1836 (Corsair) Squadrons also arrived on this date disembarking from the Fleet Carrier HMS VICTORIOUS. For the next twelve days MONAB III supported 9 squadrons (2 resident training squadrons and 7 front-line units), over 100 aircraft well in excess of its designed capacity of 50. Construction of the airfield and buildings was still not complete so many squadron personnel were still accommodated under canvas. The situation was to get worse when work came to a halt, due first to heavy rains bringing widespread flooding and then further delayed when the Civil Constructional Corps labourers engaged on airfield construction went on strike. The two Corsair squadrons re-joined VICTORIOUS on the 26th relieving some of the overcrowding. INDEFATIGABLE’s squadron began to re-join the ship at the start of July; 820 Squadron on the 1st and 887, 894 & 1772 Squadrons following them on July 7th.

At some stage in June 899 Squadron was re- tasked; it had been drastically reduced in both manpower and aircraft after arriving on the station. Only the C.O. and four experienced pilots remained when it became a Seafire Operational Training Unit (OTU) to train pilots for the newly formed Air branch of the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve. The trainees were all RAAF Spitfire pilots with 500 hours on the type, who volunteered for transfer to the Royal Australian Navy, with a reduction of one grade in rank. Squadron strength was increased to 14 Seafires and No 1 RANVR conversion course got underway with instruction in naval flying and combat techniques building up to Deck Landing qualification. Aerodrome Dummy Deck Landings (ADDLs) were carried out at Schofields but Shipboard Deck landing Training (DLT), the final stage of the course, was carried out off the coast of Queensland, the squadron flying up to RNAS Maryborough from where they flew out to make their landings.

In mid-July three of the Royal Navy’s four new Light-Fleet arrived in Australia to join the BPF and Schofields was to receive No. 15 Carrier Air Group (CAG), 1851 (Corsair) & 814 (Barracuda) squadrons, which disembarked from HMS VENERABLE on July 21st. One-week later Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, the Commander-in-chief. British Pacific Fleet. visited Schofields on the 28th as part of his tour of the support facilities in Australia. The 12 pilots of No.1 RANVR conversion course 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


Victory over Japan and reorganisation

VENERABLE's air group re-embarked on August 13th and a new squadron flew in, 1790 (Firefly) Night-Fighter squadron disembarked from the escort carrier HMS VINDEX. Two days later on August 15th the Japanese surrendered and VJ Day was celebrated at Schofields by members of MONABs III and the squadrons on the station (In Australia the war's end was termed 'Victory in the Pacific' or VP day as opposed to Victory over Japan as it was known in Europe). The celebrations were only brief however as the fourth Light-fleet carrier, HMS GLORY arrived at Sydney on August 16th and disembarked the 16th CAG, 1831 (Corsair) & 837 (Barracuda) squadrons to RNAS Schofields; they were soon followed by 880 (Seafire) Squadron which disembarked from the Fleet Carrier IMPLACABLE on August 25th.

As part of a rationalization of training provision in Australia 706 squadron departed for RNAS Maryborough, MONAB VI on August 28th; 1770 Squadron's Fireflies also departed for Maryborough the next day. The latter move was a strange one - MONAB 6 was not equipped to handle Fireflies so a detachment of 13 men was assembled from the 4 Officers. 16 Chief patty Officers (CPO)s & Petty Officers (POs) and 10 ratings of Mobile Servicing unit No.3 to travel to RNAS Maryborough, the detachment comprised of Lieutenant Romanoff, 1 CPO, 8 POs, 2 Leading Air Fitters and one steward. This party left for Maryborough by train, and was issued with equipment from MONAB VI on reaching Maryborough.

On the first of September the 16th CAG re-embarked in GLORY; three days later 702 Instrument Flying Training & Checking Squadron arrived on the station as the new resident training unit. The squadron, equipped with Oxfords and Harvard IIbs, had formed and worked up in the UK at RNAS Hinstock, Shropshire, before its personnel were shipped out to Australia. MONAB III was already equipped with a mobile Beam Approach Beacon System (BABS) van but the squadron’s training equipment did not materialise so 702 focused on the instrument flying training. 801 (Seafire) Squadron disembarked from IMPLACABLE on September 9th; two days later it absorbed the aircraft of 880 Squadron when they were disbanded.

The pupils of the second RANVR conversion course flew up to RNAS Maryborough at the end of the first week of September to do their qualifying DLT in the escort carrier ARBITER, flying out to the ship in Hervey bay commencing on September 10th and finishing on the 13th. Again all 12 pilots completed 10 landings each to qualify and receive their RANVR(A) commissions. Its conversion work completed 899 Seafire OTU disbanded on September 18th after successfully passing 24 RAAF pilots as qualified to carry out deck landings at sea; none of them reached the forward area in time to join a front-line Seafire squadron before the end of hostilities, most of them saw service in either INDEFATIGABLE or IMPLACABLE after the War. On the same day the squadrons of the 11th CAG, (885 (Hellcat), 887 & 894 (Seafire) & 1772 (Firefly) disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE; 885 Squadron was disbanded on the 27th.

Re-organisation: 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.


MONAB VI replaces MONAB III

MONAB III, HMS NABTHORPE was paid off at Schofields on November 15th 1945. RNAS Schofields was re-commissioned by MONAB VI as HMS NABSTOCK in the same day. The units present at Schofields at this time were one resident unit, 702 Instrument Flying Training & Checking Squadron (5 Oxford & 3 Harvard), and five disembarked squadrons, 801, 887 & 894 (Seafire), 1772 and 1790 (Firefly) squadrons.

There was some reorganisation of equipment as unnecessary components were packed up, others were retained, for example support for servicing Firefly aircraft which NABSTOCK now inherited. 887 re-joined INDEFATIGABLE on November 15th followed by 1772 on the 18th and 894 on the 23rd. All three squadrons returned on December 22nd disembarking again from INDEFATIGABLE, the carrier also flew ashore 820 (Avenger) squadron on New Year’s Eve. There were three flying incidents during this period: On November 29th Sub-Lt L.J. Norton RANVR of 801 squadron was killed when his (unidentified) Seafire Mk,XV disintegrated in a dive; Avenger JZ712 of 828 Squadron, flown by Lt R. New RNVR, swung on landing and stressed the airframe on December 17th; Seafire L.III NN625 of 887 Squadron, flown by Sub-Lt E.O. Atkin RNVR, crashed on landing when the starboard undercarriage leg collapsed on December 19th.

In the New Year 1850 (Corsair) squadron arrived on January 12th having disembarked from VENGEANCE with 12 aircraft. 1790 Night Fighter squadron embarked in IMPLACABLE on the 16th. On January 18th the first of 4 squadrons arrived from RNAS Nowra as part of its rundown to closure; 706 Crew Pool & Refresher Flying squadron (2 each of Avenger, Barracuda, Corsair, Firefly, Hellcat & Seafire), they were followed on the 21st by 723 Fleet Requirements Unit (8 martinet & 8 Corsair). Next to arrive was 814 (Firefly) squadron on the 22nd followed by 1851 (Corsair) on the 24th these collectively were the 15th CAG attached to VENERABLE. Both of these squadrons had been reorganised earlier in the month at Nowra, 1851 being reduced to 12 aircraft and 814 had exchanged 18 Barracudas for 12 Fireflies. 814 was to work-up with their new aircraft in readiness to re-join the carrier. 820, 887, 894 and 1772 departed on the 31st re-joining INDEFATIGABLE.

January 1946 was a busy time with several front-line squadrons conducting on-going flying training and working-up with new equipment resulting in 7 flying incidents 2 of them fatal: On January 4th a 1790 Squadron Observer Lt J.R. Oxley RNVR was killed when he fell out of Firefly MB501 over Quakers Hill Park on approach to Schofields while the pilot, Sub-Lt R Roberts RNVR was conducting ADDLs ; Sub-Lt PB Clayton RNVR of 801 squadron taxied his Seafire F.XV, SR580, into another 801 Seafire F.XV, SR537, on the 6th; the following day Sub-Lt M Reid RNVR of 702 squadron prematurely retracted the undercarriage of Avenger JZ709, causing it to collapse; he had a second incident on January 15th, this time in Harvard KF519 of 702 squadron, he overshot, landing and ground looped; on the 19th Seafire F.XV SR539 of 801 squadron, flown by Sub-Lt R.A.H. Beaton RNVR, dropped its starboard wing on approach and ran off the runway and the undercarriage collapsed; Firefly MB629 of 706 squadron , flown by Sub-Lt G.R. Harrison RNVR, ran off the runway landing after the aircraft swung to starboard and the undercarriage collapsed on the hard ground on the 23rd. While returning to Schofields on January 31st, after a training flight over the sea to the south east of Sydney Firefly DK480 of 814 squadron began to experience control problems, the pilot Sub-Lt C.B. Ratcliffe tried to change course but found his rudder to be locked and the aircraft, which became more unstable could only fly straight. He ordered his navigator Petty Officer Airman E. M. Butterworth to bale out just before the aircraft flipped onto its back and he then exited the aircraft himself. The plane fell to earth striking first the lift tower of the main building at Lewisham Hospital, Sydney before crashing into an old boiler house. Rescue workers found that the navigator was still in the aircraft when it hit killing two men working in the building.

In mid-February 812 (Firefly) squadron disembarked from VENGEANCE on the 12th to join the other half of her Air Group, 13th CAG. The 15th CAG began to embark in VENERABLE on the 22nd when Corsairs of 1851 departed, followed by the Fireflies of 814 on March 13th. Two days later 801 (Seafire) squadron disembarked from IMPLACABLE. The 13th CAG departed on the 19th, re-joining VENGEANCE and 1790 (Firefly) squadron disembarked from IMPLACABLE on the 28th. There were only three flying incidents during February and march: Sub-Lt J.E. Letham RNVR of 801 squadron taxied Seafire F.XV SR589 into a lorry causing damage to mainplanes & prop on February 22nd; the other two incidents involved the phenomena known as ground looping, Firefly MB635 of 814 squadron, flown by Sub-Lt G.S. Robson RNVR ground looped on landing on March 9th stressing the undercarriage, and Firefly MB508 of 837, flown by Sub-Lt G.G. Pruden RNVR ground looped on take-off on the 16th.


Paying off

At the start of April 1946 HMS NABSTOCK was the only MONAB still in operation in Australia; MONAB V had been paid off on March 18th followed by MONAB II and TAMY I on March 31st having transferred all remaining squadrons to Schofields. The last of these squadrons was 724 Communications Squadron which arrived from RNAS Bankstown on March 31st, equipped with Expeditors and Ansons they had flown regular passenger and light freight services to other Naval Air Stations and cities in Australia. The last front-line units to depart, 801 & 1790 re-joined IMPLACABLE for passage to the UK on April 29th. The last recorded flying incident took place on April 12th when Martinet PX197 of 723 FRU, flown by Sub-Lt H.C. Stoke RNVR, swung off the peritrack and fell into a ditch while taxying to dispersal.

HMS NABSTOCK was now scaling down its operations; the whole of April and May were spent packing up the MONAB equipment and stores, along with preparing the airfield for return to the RAAF. Anything which was not to be kept for return to the UK was broken up and burnt in large bonfires on the airfield, the remains of these bonfires were then ferried out into the bush and dumped by the clean-up parties which had been drafted in to replace ratings who had been released for demob after February.

The second-line squadrons 702, 706, 723 and 1724 were all disbanded at Schofields on May 31st before HMS NABSTOCK and MONAB VI paid off at Schofields on June 9th 1946; and Schofields was returned to RAAF custody.


Returned to RAAF Control & post-war operations

&On May 31st 1946, No.78 Wing RAAF headquarters and its subordinate units (75, 78 and 80 Squadrons, and No. 114 No. 114 Mobile Fighter Control Unit (MFCU)) moved to RAAF Station Schofields and accepted responsibility for the station’s running on June 9th 1946

In July No. 86 (Transport) Wing RAAF re-formed at Schofields and comprised of Nos. 36, 37, and 38 Squadrons, all flying Douglas C-47 Dakotas. The wing was augmented by No. 386 (Base) Squadron and No. 486 (Maintenance) Squadron, which formed in August when No.78 Wing headquarters moved to RAAF Station Williamtown on August 1st.

No. 86 (Transport) Wing initially flew supply missions to the Australian-administered Territory of Papua and New Guinea, as well as three-times weekly courier flights to Iwakuni, Japan in support of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. The Iwakuni tasking continued until December 1947, when the service was taken over by Qantas. At the staIwakuni,rt of 1948 the Wing was reduced in size when No. 37 Squadron disbanded in February. From mid-1948 Mo. 22 RAAF Reserve Squadron operated from Schofields equipped with P-51 Mustangs and Tiger Moths; it was to be a resident unit until March 1953 when it relocated to RAAF Station Richmond. No. 30 (Target Towing) Squadron also operated a variety of aircraft including Beaufighters, Beauforts, Dakotas, Wirraways, Ansons and Mustangs from Schofields at sometime during the period 1919 -1952

No. 386 (Base) Squadron disbanded in March 1949 and re-formed the same day as Schofields Station Headquarters. On 22 June 1949, No. 86 Wing, now comprising Nos. 36, 38 and 486 Squadrons, relocated from Schofields to RAAF Station Richmond.

Beginning In 1949 part of the camp was converted to house migrants, some 21 huts being outfitted as accommodation for 300 people, earning the site the title of the Schofields Migrant Hostel. This closed February 4 1951.


Naval aviation returns to Schofields

In November 1950, Schofields was evaluated for use as the site of the proposed RAN Aircraft Repair Yard, following the formation of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm on July 3rd 1947. In January 1952, the R.AAF transferred control of the base to the RAN, but remained in residence until finally withdrawing in September 1952. Schofields was temporarily under the control of RANAS Nowra, HMAS ALBATROSS and the station was commissioned as HMAS ALBATROSS II, Royal Australian Naval Air Repair Yard (RANARY) Schofields; a large number of RN Officers and sailors supplementing the RAN Component.

&On April 1st 1953, RANARY Schofields was commissioned as an independent command bearing the name HMAS NIRIMBA; this was a joint RANARY and technical training establishment for the RAN Fleet Air Arm. The Aircraft Repair Yard was short lived however, and was closed down in early 1955 and HMAS NIRIMBA and the airfield were paid off toto "Care and Maintenance" status. On February 28th 1955.

In September 1955, preparations began to re-commission NIRIMBA as the RAN Apprentice Training Establishment (RANATE) for Naval Apprentice training. The establishment reopened in January 1956; and re-commissioned on January 5th 1956 as HMAS NIRIMBA, RAN Apprentice Training Establishment. The first intake of the Apprentices arrived in July 1956, with the last in January 1992.

HMAS NIRIMBA finally decommissioned on 25 February 1994, having trained some 13,000 young men and women from the RAN and other Commonwealth Navies, together with several thousand trainees undergoing other courses in her 34-year history.

The aerodrome at Schofields had been operating as a civil field for many years until it too finally closed to flying in 1994. It was the venue of Australia’s first international Air Show on November 8th 1977 the Schofields Jubilee Air Show attracted 300 aircraft, and exhibits from around the world.

Schofields (now titled Schofields Defence Depot) had one last major use at the start of the new millennium, the site was chosen as a rehearsal ground for the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games held in Sidney.

 

Click here for a list of Primary sources


Additional sources:

 

Admiralty Fleet Orders:

 

Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders:

 

 

 

 


 

 

Oblique shot of Schofields.

 

Overhead shot of Schofields

 

This shot shows the ongoing construction work, only 2 Bellman hangars are complete, the base and rids of a third can be seen.

 

 

 

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