MONAB I began to assemble at Royal Naval Air
Station Ludham on September 4th 1944, the same day as Ludham
commissioned as a naval air station. MONAB I was tasked with
support of several first line aircraft types, the unit was allocated
the following maintenance components:
- MM 1 Avenger I & II - Corsair II & IV - Hellcat I & II -
Martinet TT. I
- MS 1 Avenger I & II
- MS 2 Corsair II & IV
- MSR 1 Avenger I & II - Corsair II & IV - Hellcat I & II
Added in Australia
- M.A.T.M.U. No. 3, 6, & 7
Being the first of its kind meant MONAB I's
formation period was to be a time of discovery, this was all new
territory, and all the planning was about to be put to the test. It
soon became apparent to the senior officers of both MONAB I and the
MNAO that the laid down scales of equipment, stores, manning levels
and vehicle requirements would be hard to meet.
Specialist vehicles for the unit did not exist
prior to the late summer of 1944, these had to be specially made and
outfitted, with many arriving too late, the unit had left the UK.
Stores and specialist tools were in short supply in the UK; any
shortfalls were to drawn from local depots upon arrival in the
theatre of operations.
A large proportion of personnel that were being
drafted to join the unit were found to be untrained for their
assigned billets, many being to old or unfit for service overseas.
All of these problems had to be sorted out before the unit could
become operational, in most cases the solution was 'replacements to
Despite these handicaps MONAB I was sufficiently
complete to become operational by the end of October. The unit
commissioned as independent command bearing the ships name HMS
'NABBINGTON' on October 28th 1944, Commander G.A. NUNNELEY in
By mid November the unit was ready for despatch,
the stores, equipment & vehicles being transported by road to
Victoria dock, Birkenhead for sea passage to Sydney, Australia on
board the S.S. SUFFOLK, sailing on or around November 20th. The
personnel and last minute additions sailed from Gladstone dock,
Liverpool onboard the S.S. EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND on November 20th.
The passage, via the Panama Canal and across the
Pacific, took a month, the personnel arrived in Sydney onboard the
S.S. EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND on December 20th 1944, the main body
disembarking to Warwick Farm, a part of H.M.S. Golden Hind, the RN
barracks in Sydney, whilst an advance party went directly to the
unit’s operational base at R.A.A.F Nowra, New South Wales, arriving
there on the 22nd. The S.S. SUFFOLK arrived at Sydney on Christmas
Eve 1944. Work began immediately on unloading the stores and
equipment for transport to Nowra, this being done by No. l
Transportation & Movements Office, of the Royal Australian Air
The main party of MONAB I arrived at Nowra airfield on New Year’s
Day, 1945. The next day R.A.A.F Nowra was officially transferred on
loan to the RN and commissioned as HMS NABBINGTON, Royal Naval Air
Station Nowra. Nowra was still under (re)construction and some
expansion work continued during January.
The White Ensign is raised at Nowra,
January 2nd 1945. Photo:
From the collection of Goeff Williams.
The first aircraft arrived from the BPF on
February 9th, these being Corsairs of 1830 squadron together with a
detachment of 6 corsairs of 1833 squadron disembarked from HMS
ILLUSTRIOUS. Further arrivals on the 10th were 820 Squadron's
Avenger IIs from HMS INDEFATIGABLE, 849 Squadron's Avengers, & 1834
& 1836 Squadrons Corsairs from HMS VICTORIOUS, 857 Squadron’s
Avengers, & 1839 & 1844 Squadrons Hellcats from HMS INDOMITABLE. 854
Squadron's Avengers arrived from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS on the 11th.
Initially only some six aircraft from each
squadron were flown ashore to Nowra. There were several reasons for
limiting numbers; at that stage aircraft parking areas were
inadequate and many aircraft were parked on the grass beside the
runways. Also, aircrew accommodation and wardroom facilities would
have been overwhelmed by large numbers of extra personnel. By using
the carriers for accommodation it was possible to rotate aircrew
between Sydney and Nowra for flying practice and a short leave
period, some of the air crews were billeted under canvas. These
squadrons spent their time at Nowra working up and training in
preparation for the next operations to be undertaken by the BPF.
Within the space of three days MONAB I accepted in excess of 100
aircraft and their air crews. This highlighted the fact that there
was insufficient hangers or accommodation at Nowra at this time.
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The support of disembarked TBR Squadrons, the provision of
Continuation & Refresher Flying Training.
MONAB Components :
Mobile Maintenance 1, Maintenance Servicing 1& 2, Mobile Repair 1,
Maintenance, Storage & Resave 1 & 2, Mobile Air Torpedo Maintenance
Units 3. 6 & 7, No. 723 squadron Fleet Requirements Unit.
28 October 1944 (at RNAS Ludham)
02 January 1945 (at RNAS Nowra)
Paid Off :
15 November 1945 (at RNAS Nowra)
- Commander. G. A. Nunneley
28 October 1944 to 09 March 1945
- Captain H. G. Dickinson
09 March 1945 to 01 May 1845
- Captain J. D Harvey
01 May 1845 to 15 November 1945
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