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PART ONE

 

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 follow'.

 

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 command.

 

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 Force.

 

 

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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R.N.A.S. NOWRA

 

 

 

 

Function :
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.

 

Commissioned :
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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