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PART ONE

 

Personnel for MONAB II began to assemble at RNAS Ludham & RN. Air Est. Risley, Warrington, during early October 1944. The formation of MONAB II was to prove to be exceptionally difficult due to the fact that the duties of this unit were changed from that of a normal MONAB to that of a Receipt and Dispatch Unit shortly after formation began. This was a unit for which there was no scheme of complement laid down. The unit was to be assembled with the standard MONAB elements but the Maintenance and repair (Air) element received no Maintenance Servicing or Mobile Maintenance units, instead an Aircraft Erection Unit, an Aircraft Equipping & Modification Unit, and an Aircraft Storage Unit were substituted.

 

The unit was allocated the following components which were to cater for all aircraft types in use by the RN in the Pacific theatre:

 

  • Aircraft Erection Unit
  • Aircraft Equipping & Modification Unit
  • Aircraft Storage Unit

 

The confusion caused by this role change was to be felt both at the formation station and in the operational area; the drafting office, based at R.N. Barracks, Lee-on-Solent, was not informed of the revised complement in sufficient time so the initial draft arrived at Ludham to find themselves surplus to requirements. A complement of 997 technical ratings for Maintenance, erecting and Equipping was finally decided upon by the planning staff and a new draft if 997 replacement ratings was raised.

 

A second immediate effect of the role change came with the increased size of the complement; a standard MONAB had an average complement of 500 personnel including officers, so MONAB II was nearly doubled in size. The formation station, Royal Naval Air Station, Ludham, could not accommodate such a large number as MONAB I was also present on the station and MONAB III was due to begin formation shortly. The solution was to accommodate some 600 ratings at H.M.S. GOSLING over 100 miles away at Risley, Warrington, Lancashire.

 

This division of the complement made kiting up, checking of lists, and arranging short maintenance courses, and ultimately embarkation, unnecessarily complicated. To further compound an already complicated restructuring of the unit's assembly and formation period it was found that many of the ratings drafted were unfamiliar with the several types of aircraft which it was intended that MONAB II should handle; the formation time table made no allowance for rating familiarisation, unit sailing dates were preset so training outside of that set out in the formation programme was sacrificed. In addition to unprepared technical ratings, no adequate writer staff were drafted, ratings received were inexperienced, of three supplied for the workshops element, only one could type with any speed or accuracy.

 

MONAB II commissioned as an independent command November 18th 1944, bearing the ship's name HMS 'NABBERLEY', Commander E.P.F. ATKINSON in command. Two days later the unit's stores & equipment were transported, over night, to Gladstone Dock, Liverpool for embarkation on the 20th November. This operation was carried out by the units own transport. On completion of loading, the stores & equipment sailed in the S.S. PERTHSHIRE, (LS 1974). The personnel of MONAB II, in company with elements from MONAB III and other units taking passage to Australia, sailed from Liverpool onboard the Troop Ship R.M.S. ATHLONE CASTLE on 22nd December 1944.

 

An advance party of MONAB II had been despatched to Australia and was put ashore in Sydney by HMS UNICORN at the beginning of December, The party arrived at R.A.A.F Bankstown, Sydney, early in the month to set up shop. Unloaded with the advance party were 16 crated aircraft, 8 Corsair IIs & 8 Martinet TT.Is collected from the RN Aircraft Depot at Cochin, S. India. These aircraft were to be assembled by the advance party, with R.A.A.F assistance, and were to have been test flown by the time the main party arrived in the New Year. The first aircraft assembled, Corsair II JT537, was test flown on January 18th 1945.

 

 

MONAB II personnel arrived at Sydney on the 25th of January 1945, part of the ship's company proceeded directly to Bankstown, the remainder were temporarily accommodated under canvas at Warwick Farm, HMS Golden Hind, while accommodation was sorted out.

 

R.A.A.F. Bankstown looking East along Marion Street, Sydney. Photo: From the collection of former A.M. (O) Jim Davey.

 

R.A.A.F Bankstown was transferred on loan to RN on January 27th 1945; MONAB II began transporting stores & equipment to the station on this date. MONAB II commissioned Bankstown, as Royal Naval Air Station, HMS NABBERLEY on January 29th 1945. Work began almost immediately, continuing assembling crated aircraft and carrying out pre-issue test flights.  During late February, it became apparent that unexpected shortfalls in the aircraft production targets meant that the mobile Storage element was somewhat redundant, there being no reserve aircraft for it to process. The situation was not seen as improving for the foreseeable future so the decision was taken to break up the Mobile Storage unit, sub dividing it to equip four new Maintenance Storage & repair units, M.S.R 3, 4, 7, & 8. Of these, M.S.R. 3 & 4 were already forming at Bankstown from early February, and an advance party of M.S.R. 4 was dispatched to Ponam Island, in the Admiralty Islands, on board HMS UNICORN; the second echelon of M.S.R 4 was embarked in HMS SPEAKER, arriving at Ponam Island on March 13th. M.S.R. 3 was divided into A & B sub units and embarked in H.M. Ships STRIKER & UNICORN to support the newly formed Forward Aircraft Pool which was initially held onboard these carriers. M.S.R. 7 & 8 were transferred to TAMY I upon its arrival in Brisbane in late March.

 

R.A.A.F. Bankstown looking South East across the technical area. The main aircraft parking area is in the distance, on the the other side of t he landing area. Photo: From the collection of former A.M. (O) Jim Davey.

 

By this time it had become apparent that the complement of non technical ratings borne proved to be totally inadequate to meet demands of station duties; these elements received no manpower increase in the revised complement. The shortfalls made it impossible to supply the necessary guards, working parties' galley hands etcetera without drawing on the technical personnel or loaning ratings when available from the R.N. Barracks, Sydney. Shortages in manpower also applied to Cooks and Stewards, in MONAB II the average number of officers permanently borne was 85, as opposed to 36 for a standard MONAB.

 

Once sufficient aircraft became available to permit a steady flow through the hangers attempts were made by the air engineering team to adopt industrial trade methods, namely to break down the jobs into small units so that a team could be trained very quickly to do a small job on each aircraft. This practice paid off, allowing for rapid gains in skill which enabled the process time of an aircraft on the hangar floor to be reduced considerably. Co-operation between the Air engineering, Air Gunnery, Air Radio, and Air Electrical Officers had enabled work on an aircraft to be planned as a whole, enabling an aircraft to come out of a crate into one hangar and left that hangar complete in all respects and ready for butt testing, compass swinging and test flight. However plans to operate this scheme to its full extent were negated by ratings being drafted and by the intermittent arrival of aircraft resulting in varying output figures. The practice of sending secret equipment separate from the aircraft also caused considerable delay in bringing aircraft forward for service.

 

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R.N.A.S. BANKSTOWN

Last modified: 14 April 2015

 

 

 

Function :
Receipt & Despatch Unit

 

MONAB Components :
Aircraft Erection Unit, Aircraft Equipping & Modification Unit, Aircraft Storage Unit, 724 Naval Air Communications Squadron.

 

Commissioned :
18 Nov 1944 (at Ludham)
29 January 1945 (at Bankstown)

 

Paid Off :
31 Mar 1946 (at Bankstown)

 

 

 

  • Commander E. P. F. Atkinson 18 Nov 1944 to 31 March 1946

 

 

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Aerial photo of RNAS Bankstown that clearly

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