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PART ONE

 

Personnel for MONAB V began to assemble at RNAS Ludham from 6th December 1944, for formation as a type B MONAB. However due to a late policy change it was decided to a change the units role, the planned Mobile Repair components were withdrawn on November 1st and the standard Mobile Maintenance and Maintenance Servicing units (part of a type A MONAB) were substituted, in addition two Maintenance, Storage & Reserve components were attached, the result was a hybrid MONAB, neither a type A nor B MONAB but somewhere in between.

 

At the beginning of December 1944 the MONAB formation base was a very crowded place; the personnel of MONABs III & IV were not due to depart until the 20th and the programme called for MONAB v and TAMY 1 to be simultaneously assembled. The overcrowding was eased by splitting TAMY 1 in a similar fashion to that for MONAB II; the HQ component was to form at Ludham and the technical components at HMS GOSLING in Lancashire.

 

MONAB V was allocated the following maintenance components to provide support facilities fort he following aircraft types:

 

  • M.M. 4 Avenger I & II, Corsair II & IV, Martinet TT.I
  • M.S. 7 Avenger I & II
  • M.S. 8 Corsair II &
  • M.S.R. 1* Avenger I & II, Corsair II & IV, Hellcat I & II.
  • M.S.R. 2* Seafire III & L.III, Firefly I
  • M.A.T.M.U. No. 6

 

* Detached to operate under MONAB 1 on arrival in Australia

 

This late change to the units component make up led to considerable re-drafting and many ratings joined only a few days prior to sailing from the UK; drafting leave had to be given top priority, the necessarily large store parties came second and familiarisation of ratings with their equipment and instruction in tropical hygiene etc came a poor third.

 

MONAB V was no different from its predecessors when it came to shortfalls and inadequacies in equipment and training. In particular the preparation of the vehicles for shipment was impeded by the inadequate servicing facilities and the delivery of many vehicles too late to be properly serviced before embarkation. In some cases, vehicles joined the convoy en route to the port of embarkation. The main consequence of this was that no time was available for checking the spare parts carried by each vehicle. The M/T section suffered considerably because the ratings allowed by complement were not yet available. In addition, the complement of drivers for a typical MONAB was made out for an allowance of 88 prime movers, whereas MONAB V had 122 prime movers allocated to fulfil the new role.

 

Additionally the full complement of radio vans did not arrive until shortly before moving off and therefore wore not checked or tested before sailing. MONAB Staff found there was insufficient time allowed to familiarise the unit's very junior Telegraphist staff with the equipment supplied, most of them had never seen the ground radio equipment before. Also, insufficient numbers of specially trained and experienced air radio mechanics were drafted, this necessitated many being sent on special short courses, this meant them not being available for checking over their equipment.

 

Storing difficulties prior to the movement of the unit from the United Kingdom were considerable; it was the practice that as far as possible all stores were sent by depots to Ludham. This vast mass of stores (of which a disconcertingly large proportion were in cases and crates weighing over 4 cwts {200 Kilos}) had to be manhandled several times between arrival at the nearest railhead (a village station) and dispatch by rail again to the port of embarkation. Some of the stores despatched from the depots were delivered by road and needed to be uncreated for overseas shipment. Many items together with a considerable quantity of G-1098 equipment had to be re-cased or crated after acceptance.

 

Reports on the experiences of earlier MONABs and their formation difficulties were not available for reference by units currently forming, commanding officers reports on proceeding were filled once the MONAB was installed and had not yet filtered back to the MNAO staff. Consequently answers to the questions as to how much cash, loan clothing and compo rations etc., should be taken appeared to be left to the guesswork of the supply officer.

 

Despite the problems and obstacles encountered during formation, MONAB V commissioned as an independent command on February 1st 1945 bearing the ships name HMS 'NABSWICK', Captain H.G. DICKINSON D.S.C. RN in command. TAMY 1 also commissioned on this date as H.M.S. NABSFORD; both units were to be despatched together, their personnel and equipment departed for Gladstone docks, Liverpool, over night on February 16th for passage to Australia.

 

Up to this time, MONAB V had not been allocated an operations site; negotiations with the Australian authorities to secure further airfields on loan were being hampered by labour disputes and delayed completion dates. It was decided to house MONAB V at RAAF Jervis Bay, NSW as soon as it was ready. Upon its arrival in Australia, it was to lodge at Nowra with MONAB I, a few miles to the north of Jervis Bay until it was ready for occupation.

 

Personnel embarked in S.S. STIRLING CASTLE (Transport J.4) for passage to Australia, sailing on February 18th 1945; the unit's stores and equipment were to travel in the S.S. DURHAM, which sailed three days later.

 

Command of MONAB V transferred, temporarily, to Commander T.K. MASTERMAN on March 9th 1945, Captain Dickinson having been detached to assume command of MONAB I at Nowra.

 

 

The S.S. STIRLING CASTLE arrived at Sydney 29th March and on disembarking the personnel travelled by train to HMS NABBINGTON, RNAS Nowra, the stores and equipment following on a week later. Both the M.S.R. units were detached to operate under MONAB I once their equipment and vehicles were unloaded. Once collected together at Nowra the personnel of MONAB V began transporting equipment and erecting the various MONAB components at Jervis Bay; the airfield was at that time operating as a tender to Nowra, and in use for operational flying by MONAB I from March 7th. During this period of installation the personnel were accommodated at Nowra, there being hardly any permanent buildings or facilities on the airfield at Jervis Bay.

 

The men of MONAB V begin setting up their mobile equipment at R.N.A.S. Jervis Bay. This unit made full use of their mobile structures as the airfield had virtually no permanent buildings. Photo: From author's collection.

 

On disembarking the unit's stores at Sydney, it was found that a number of cases had sustained damage due more to the rough handling given them by stevedores than to faulty construction. A number of oases were lost in the general confusion of stores at the docks and some of the N.A.A.F.I. stores had been broken into presumably because the letters "NAAFI" wore painted on the cases. Overall, however, the damage and loss were relatively slight when it is considered that over 5,000 cases were brought from the United Kingdom.

 

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R.N.A.S. JERVIS BAY/R.N.A.S. NOWRA

 

 

 

 

Function :
Support for disembarked front line squadrons.

 

MONAB Components :
Mobile Maintenance 4, Maintenance Servicing 7 & 8, Maintenance, Storage & Resave 1 & 2, Mobile Air Torpedo Maintenance Unit 6

 

Commissioned :
01 February 1945 (at Ludham)
01 May 1945 (at RNAS Jervis Bay)
15 November 1945 (at RNAS Nowra)

 

Paid Off :
14 November 1945 (at RNAS Jervis Bay)
18 March 1946 (at RNAS Nowra)

 

 

 

  • Captain H. G. Dickinson D.S.C. 01 February 1945 to 09 March 1945
  • Commander T. K. Masterman 09 March 1945 to 01 May 1945 ? (Temp in command)
  • Captain H. G. Dickinson D.S.C. 01 May 1945 to 18 November 1945
  • Captain J.F.H. Sawyer 18 November 1945 to 18 March 1946

     

 

 

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RNAS JERVIS BAY
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