The airfield lies 1 mile south of the township of
Schofields, 19 miles WNW of Sydney Harbour Bridge and 15 miles WNW
from Bankstown aerodrome. The airfield is bounded on one side by the
main railway line from Schofields to Sydney, and on another by a
river. Quakers Hill lies to the South east.
The land on which the aerodrome stands was part
of the 695 acre Pye family estate, being acquired for use as a
satellite aerodrome for R.A.A.F Richmond in 1941. Construction work
began in June 1942.
Work was slow to progress, and little had been
done when the airfield was chosen for transfer on loan to the
Admiralty to operate as shore based air facility for the newly
formed British Pacific Fleet. Construction work began again in
earnest in late September 1944 when a detachment of No 2 Airfield
Construction Squadron R.A.A.F, based at Randwick Racecourse Sydney,
they were to remain until January 23rd 1945.
The still uncompleted Schofields was handed over
to the Royal Navy on February 5th 1945 when it was occupied by the
advance party of MONAB 3,; one runway was operational at this time.
MONAB 3 commissioned the Station as Royal Naval Air Station
Schofields HMS NABTHORPE on February 18th.
November 15th 1945, the station was renamed HMS
NABSTOCK, when MONAB 6 transferred here from RAAF Maryborough,
Queensland. HMS NABSTOCK and R.N.A.S. Schofields paid off on
June 9th 1946, the station being returned to R.A.A.F control the
The R.A.A.F made little use of the airfield; most
notable being 38 Squadron’s "Iwakani Mail Run" to Japan which was
operated from Schofields for two years.
In 1949 part of the camp was converted to house
migrants, some 21 huts being outfitted as accommodation for 300
people, earning the site the title of the Schofields Migrant Hostel.
This closed February 4 1951. in 194
In November 1950, Schofields was evaluated for
use as the site of the RAN Aircraft Repair Yard, following the
formation of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm. In 1951, the
RAN moved in and Schofields was temporarily commissioned as HMAS
ALBATROSS II, RANARY Schofields; a large number of RN Officers and
sailors supplementing the RAN Component. In January 1952, the
R.A.A.F transferred control of the base to the RAN, but remaining in
residence until finally withdrawing in September 1952.
On 1 April 1953, Royal Australian Naval Air
Repair Yard Schofields was commissioned as HMAS NIRIMBA, a joint
RANARY and technical training establishment for RAN Fleet Air Arm.
The Aircraft Repair Yard was short lived however, and was closed
down in early 1955 and HMAS NIRIMBA and the airfield were reduced to
"Care and Maintenance" status.
In September 1955, preparations began to
re-commission NIRIMBA as the RAN Apprentice Training Establishment
(RANATE) for Naval Apprentice training. The establishment reopened
in January 1956, Captain F L George RAN assumed command. On January
4th 1956, HMAS NIRIMBA was ‘Paid off’ to re-commission the next day
as HMAS NIRIMBA, RAN Apprentice Training Establishment. The first
intake of the Apprentices arrived in July 1956, with the last in
NIRIMBA finally decommissioned on 25 February
1994, having trained some 13,000 young men and women from the RAN
and other Commonwealth Navies, together with several thousand
trainees undergoing other courses in her 34 year history.
The aerodrome at Schofields had been operating as
a civil field for many years until it too finally closed to flying
in 1994. It was the venue of Australia’s first international Air
Show on November 8th 1977 the Schofields Jubilee Air Show attracted
300 aircraft, and exhibits from around the world.
Schofields (now titled Schofields Defence Depot)
last major use was as a rehearsal ground for the Opening Ceremony of
the 2000 Olympic Games held in Sidney.
A Wall & Rose Garden Memorial to the Armed forces
that have occupied the area in the past has been dedicated on the
site of the former HMAS NIRIMBA, also a Commemorative Plaque was
erected on the site by The Naval Historical Society of Australia