Motto:

E PLURIBUS UNUM

 

Unofficial badge, no official design approved

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

MONAB VIII began to assemble at RNAS Middle Wallop on May 1st 1945. It was designated as a Fighter support MONAB, essentially no different from a standard MONAB which would support both fighters and torpedo bombers, its scale of issue excluded tools and spares for non fighter aircraft types.

 

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

 

  • M.M. 7 Corsair II & IV - Firefly I - Seafire XV
  • M.S. 13 Corsair II & IV
  • M.S. 14 Seafire III & L.III
  • M.S.R. 9 Not known

 

MONAB VIII was the first unit to actually be allowed to hold a trial run camp in order to help prepare the advance party for the initial tasks they would face in setting up the unit at its operational base. This trial campo took place at Cranford, not far from Middle Wallop between 8th - 11th June; the venture involved 12 Officers and 110 ratings. Whilst there they erected Best Burkle Tents, Dorland Hangers and other equipment which required assembly before use. Opportunity was also taken to try to address some of the previously reported problems encountered by earlier MONABs.

 

MONAB VIII Commissioned as an independent command bearing the ship's name HMS NABCATCHER on July 1st 1945. Captain V.N. Surtees DSO, in command. MONAB VIII, together with MSR 9, were transported by road and rail to Liverpool during the 5th and 6th of July for embarkation. The personnel embarked in the R.M.S. MALOJA., stores and equipment on board the S.S. EMPIRE CHIEFTAIN. Both vessels sailed for Sydney on the 7th.

 

The voyage out to Australia was via the Suez Canal, this was the first time this route, across the Indian Ocean to approach Australia from the west was to be used, the S.S. MALOJA reached Sydney on August 31st. At Sydney the unit disembarked to HMS GOLDEN HIND to await the allocation of an operational base, being accommodated under canvas at Warwick Racecourse during this period.

 

The decision was taken that as the war was now over MONAB VIII was not required for service in Australia and but would be installed at Kai Tak airfield, Hong Kong to reopen the airfield and provide shore based support for the elements of British Pacific Fleet in the area. After only five days at HMS GOLDEN HIND the advance party of HMS NABCATCHER was embarked in the escort aircraft carrier HMS SLINGER, which departed for Hong Kong, via Brisbane and the Philippines, on September 5th. MSR 9 was embarked in the escort carrier HMS REAPER 2-3 weeks later for passage to Hong Kong.

 

 

Upon arriving in Hong Kong HMS SLINGER was moored alongside at Kowloon and the advance party began unloading and transporting the unit's equipment and stores to Kai Tak and began to set up the unit's temporary buildings; MONAB VIII commissioned Kai Tak airfield as HMS NABCATCHER on September 26th. It was to share the airfield with the R.A.F. who also began operations from the field claiming Kai Tak for themselves and proclaimed it R.A.F. Station Kai Tak - a point of contention as the Royal Navy also had plans for the station. It was decided that the station would be jointly occupied, with two camp areas and two sets of maintenance areas. However, after many, sometimes nearly disastrous experiments at dual air traffic control, it was decided that the R.A.F. should have sole control over Air Traffic Control.

 

R.N.A.S. Kai Tak looking East over the centre of the airfield where the portable hangars are set up. The camp area is behind near to the boundary road. Photo: From author's collection .

 

MONAB VIII was to be operated along the same lines as the units in Australia, providing shore facilities for disembarked Squadrons and operating a Fleet Requirements Unit, this would be 721 naval air squadron which arrived there early in the New Year. Kai Tak already had a naval presence before MONAB VIII arrived, a detachment of 8 corsairs from 1851 squadron was already at Kai Tak, having arrived there on September 3rd from the light fleet carrier HMS VENERABLE; these were amongst he first aircraft to land at Kai Tak after its liberation. A severe typhoon caused widespread damage to Kai Tak shortly after MONAB VIII had begun setting up its equipment, the winds were so severe that the canvas covers were ripped of a newly erected Dorland Hanger, they were never found.


Japanese POWs were employed on the station for many moths, they were marched onto the airfield from Stanley prison each day and mustered by the Quarterdeck, they were then ordered to bow to the White Ensign as a mark of respect. POW working parties repaired fences, dug ditches, pushed aircraft in and out of hangers etc. The former Japanese officers were allowed to administer discipline when necessary, in many cases such disciplinary action would be taken in front of the mustered POWs before work commenced.

 

October was to be a busy month; 'A' flight of 1701 Squadron disembarked from HMS Vengeance on October 3rd , a detachment of 1846 squadron disembarked from HMS Colossus on October 12th. These were joined by a further 24 Corsair IVs of 1850 squadron which disembarked from HMS Vengeance on the 14th. A detachment of 6 aircraft from 827 squadron arrived from HMS Colossus on the 15th, they departed for RNAS Katukurunda on the 18th. October 18th also saw 1846 re-embark in HMS Colossus and the detachment in from 1851 returned to HMS Venerable.

 

R.N.A.S. Kai Tak looking North over the parking apron, where aircraft of 721 FRU are clearly visible, towards the RN Camp area. Photo: From author's collection .

 

1701 squadron Headquarters flight arrived to become a resident unit at Jai Tak on November 1st, absorbing 'A' flight. They were joined by 'B' flight disembarking form HMS STALKER on the 16th.

 

December 20th 1850 squadron re-embarked in HMS Vengeance.

December 21st saw 1850 squadron re-embarked in HMS Vengeance after reducing its strength to 12 a/c.

 

721 FRU disembarked from HMS Speaker on January 11th to become the stations resident Fleet Requirements Unit.

 

A particularly severe typhoon caused widespread havoc in July 1946, damaging five R.A.F Dakotas, one of which was blown twenty yards away, and two visiting Sunderlands.

 

R.A.F. Kai Tak occupied the Eastern half of the airfield, and operated both land planes and flying boat services. Photo: From the collection  of former Marine Bill Brooks.

 

MONAB VIII ceased to be an independent command on August 27th 1946, the MONAB remaining in place but with accounts held in HMS Tamar, the local naval base; the unit becoming HMS NABCATCHER R.N. air section Kai Tak.

October 1st saw the arrival of 837 Squadron, disembarking 24 Firefly from HMS Glory, they were to remain at Kai Tak until November 4th when they rejoined Glory.

 

 

19837 Squadron, again disembarked from HMS Glory with 24 Firefly on December 19th , they were to stay until February 14th 1947 before re-embarking in Glory..

 

HMS NABCATCHER paid off on April 1st 1947,the Royal Naval Air Section at Kai Tak re-commissioning the same day as HMS Flycatcher, the name formerly belonging to the MONAB formation station in the UK. Control remained with HMS Tamar. HMS Flycatcher paid off on December 31st 1947; the RN Air Section facilities at Kai Tak Airport were reduced to a 'care & Maintenance' basis at 18 months notice to reopen. This option was never taken up.

 

October was to be a busy month; 'A' flight of 1701 Squadron disembarked from HMS Vengeance on October 3rd , a detachment of 1846 squadron disembarked from HMS Colossus on October 12th. These were joined by a further 24 Corsair IVs of 1850 squadron which disembarked from HMS Vengeance on the 14th. A detachment of 6 aircraft from 827 squadron arrived from HMS Colossus on the 15th, they departed for RNAS Katukurunda on the 18th. October 18th also saw 1846 re-embark in HMS Colossus and the detachment in from 1851 returned to HMS Venerable.

 

1701 squadron Headquarters flight arrived to become a resident unit at Jai Tak on November 1st, absorbing 'A' flight. They were joined by 'BV flight disembarking form HMS Stalker on the 16th.

 

December 20th 1850 squadron re-embarked in HMS Vengeance.

December 21st saw 1850 squadron re-embarked in HMS Vengeance after reducing its strength to 12 a/c.

 

721 FRU disembarked from HMS Speaker on January 11th to become the stations resident Fleet Requirements Unit.

A particularly severe typhoon caused widespread havoc in July 1946, damaging five R.A.F Dakotas, one of which was blown twenty yards away, and two visiting Sunderlands.

 

MONAB VIII ceased to be an independent command on August 27th 1946, the MONAB remaining in place but with accounts held in HMS Tamar, the local naval base; the unit becoming HMS NABCATCHER R.N. air section Kai Tak.

October 1st saw the arrival of 837 Squadron, disembarking 24 Firefly from HMS Glory, they were to remain at Kai Tak until November 4th when they rejoined Glory.

 

Command of H.M.S. NABCATCHER appears to have passed to CDR (A) W.H.N. Martin on November 9th 1946.

 

19837 Squadron, again disembarked from HMS Glory with 24 Firefly on December 19th , they were to stay until February 14th 1947 before re-embarking in Glory..

 

HMS NABCATCHER paid off on April 1st 1947,the Royal Naval Air Section at Kai Tak re-commissioning the same day as HMS Flycatcher, the name formerly belonging to the MONAB formation station in the UK. Control remained with HMS Tamar. HMS Flycatcher paid off on December 31st 1947; the RN Air Section facilities at Kai Tak Airport were reduced to a 'care & Maintenance' basis at 18 months notice to reopen. This option was never taken up.

 

 Back to too

 

R.N.A.S. Kai Tak

 

 

 

 

Function :

Fighter support MONAB providing support for disembarked front line Squadrons.

 

MONAB Components :
Mobile Maintenance 7, Maintenance Servicing 13 & 14, Maintenance, Storage & Resave 9, No. 721 squadron Fleet Requirements Unit.

 

Commissioned :
 01 July 1945 (at Middle Wallop)
26 September 1945 (at Kai Tak)

 

Paid Off :
 26 August 1946 (as independent command) Redesignated RN Air Section Kai Tak but remained HMS 'NABCATCHER' with accounts held on the books of HMS 'TAMAR' the local naval base.
01 Apr 1947 (at Kai Tak)

 

 

 

  • Captain V.N. Surtees D.S.O. 01 July 1945 to 09 November 1946
  • Commander (A) W.H.N. Martin 09 November 1946 to 01 April 1947

    Note:
    This unit was originally to be HMS NABSTEAD, but name changed.

 

 

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