Latitude 34°57'00"S  Longitude  10°30'00"E



Airfield on loan form RAAF



02 January 1945 as NABBINGTON
15 November 1945 as NABSWICK



15 November 1945 (NABBINGTON)
18 March 1946(NABSWICK)


Returned to RAAF control


Commander. G. A. Nunneley 28 October 1944
Captain H. G. Dickinson 09 March 1945
Captain J. D Harvey 01 May 1945



The support of disembarked Squadrons.
The provision of Fleet Requirements & Refresher Flying Training (723 squadron)

Mobile Air Torpedo Maintenance (MATMU 3. 6 & 7)


R.N. Air Station


New South Wales,



 The airfield lies 4 miles SW. of Nowra township and 60 miles SSW., of Sydney. Jervis Bay airfield (M.O.N.A.B. 5) lies 15 miles SE.


 Nowra Hill, 633', 057° from the airfield. A bald hill surmounted by Radio masts. The Shoalhaven River flows 6 miles to the N. and Jervis Say lies 10 miles SE. The Braidwood road, a gravel road, forms the W. boundary of the airfield.


 Secondary grovel road to Nowra, distant 6 miles (10. Rail terminus at Bomaderry, 14 miles (R) N. of Nowra across the Shoalhaven river, on a direct line to Sydney.





Control hut and ground signals area at S. end of runway 03/21.



 365' above M.S.L.



Two, sealed gravel. -

03/21 QDM. 034° 214° .... 2430 x 50yds. 
08/26 QDM. 085° 265° .... 2150 x 50 yds. 



 Taxi-tracks connect the ends of the runways and lead off to the dispersal areas to NW. and SW.






 Nowra hill, rising 283' above the airfield 1,900 yds. E. of the "21" and of runway 03/21.


3 W/T masts, 50' on the SE. side of the airfield.



No special approach recommended.





By day


By night





 R.A.A.F. type not known.


R.A.A.F. YH type.



By day


By night

R.A.A.F.Electric flare path


Not known.


M/F & H/F

 R.A.A.F. type not known.


 R.A.A.F. type not known.








Permanent Camp on the NE. side of the landing area. Tented accommodation for disembarked squadron personnel.


approximate capacity:






Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings:











 16 medium bombers hardstandings and one large gravel and steel-mat hardstanding area, about 81,000 square feet.



In a central site running parallel to 03/21 runway, then SE. at Control tower.


Number /Type


Door Height

Door Width

4 x Bellman

 112' x 95'


1x Bellman

 180' x 120'


 1 x Blister

 80' x 120'


1 x Igloo

 2S5' x 114'



Sick Bay in main camp area.


Service by MONAB 1 personnel



Not known.


Not known.

Oil :

Not known.





 1 M.G. and Cannon test butt.











Air to air


Air to ground and R. p. Firing


Live and practice bombing


Practice bombing


Torpedo range

Jervis Bay

Information taken from CB 4368 B. Admiralty Handbook of Naval Air Stations Aug. 1945 and BR.1807 Sep 1055



List of first and second line squadrons, station flight and other flying units based at this location



Pool & Refresher Flying Training Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Maryborough 28.10.1945. Moved to RNAS Schofields 18.01.1946

 Equipped with two each Avenger, Barracuda, Corsair, Firefly, Hellcat, & Seafire.



Fleet Requirements Unit

Moved here from RNAS Jervis Bay 04.06.1945. Moved to RNAS Schofields 21.01.1946.

Equipped with Martinet Target Tugs and Corsairs. 



Torpedo, Bomber, Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from VENERABLE 31.12.1945. Moved to RNAS Schofields 22.01.1946.

Equipped with 18 Barracuda II, re-equipped with 12 Firefly FR.I



Torpedo, Bomber, Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 10 - 27.02.1945

Disembarked from INDEFATIGABLE 18.09.1945. Re-embarked INDEFATIGABLE 23.11.1945.

Equipped with Avenger II.



Torpedo, Bomber, Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from IMPLACABLE 18.08.1945. Re-embarked IMPLACABLE 05.05.1946.

Equipped with Avenger III.



Torpedo, Bomber, Reconnaissance Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Jervis Bay 29.10.1945. Embarked GLORY 14.01.1946.

Equipped with 18 Barracuda II, re-equipped with 12 Firefly FR.I



Torpedo, Bomber, Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from FORMIDABLE 24.08.1945.  Personnel embarked VICTORIOUS 25.09.1945.

Equipped with Avenger I & II.



Torpedo, Bomber, Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from VICTORIOUS  10 - 27.02.1945

Disembarked from VICTORIOUS  06 - 24.06.1945.

Equipped with Avenger I & II.



Torpedo, Bomber, Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from ILLUSTRIOUS 11 .02.1945. Re-embarked ILLUSTRIOUS 06.02.1945.

Disembarked from ILLUSTRIOUS 018.05.1945. Personnel embarked SS STRATHEDEN 20.10.1945.

Equipped with Avenger I & II.



Torpedo, Bomber, Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 10 - 28.02.1945

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 18.06.1945. Re-embarked INDOMITABLE 02.08.1945.

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 11 -22.10.1945.

Equipped with Avenger II.



Two  Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from IMPLACABLE 13.09.1945. Disbanded here 16.10.1945.

Equipped with Firefly FR.1



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from ILLUSTRIOUS 09 .02.1945. Re-embarked ILLUSTRIOUS 07.02.1945.

Equipped with Corsair II



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Jervis Bay 29.10.1945. Embarked GLORY 14.01.1946.

Equipped with Corsair IV



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Detachment (6) from ILLUSTRIOUS 09 .02.1945. Re-embarked ILLUSTRIOUS o07.02.1945.

Equipped with Corsair II



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from VICTORIOUS  10 - 27.02.1945

Equipped with Corsair IV



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from VICTORIOUS  10 - 27.02.1945

Equipped with Corsair IV



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 10 - 27.02.1945

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 04.06.1945. Re-embarked INDOMITABLE 03.08.1945.

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 11.10.1945. Personnel re-embarked INDOMITABLE 03.08.1945.

Equipped with Hellcat II & IIPR



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from FORMIDABLE 23.08.1945.  Personnel embarked VICTORIOUS 25.09.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from FORMIDABLE 23.08.1945.  Personnel embarked VICTORIOUS 25.09.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Jervis Bay  22.07.1945. Personnel embarked SS STRATHEDEN 20.10.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 10 - 27.02.1945

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 05.06.1945. Re-embarked INDOMITABLE 03.08.1945.

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 11 - 16.08.1945

Disembarked from INDOMITABLE 10.10.1945. Personnel re-embarked INDOMITABLE220.10.1945.

Equipped with Hellcat II & IIPR



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Maryborough 14.07.1945.  Disbanded here 24.10.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from COLOSSUS 21.07.1945. re-embarked COLOSSUS 13.08.1945.

Equipped with Corsair IV



Single Seat Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from VENERABLE 30.12.1945. Moved to RNAS Schofields 24.01.1946.

Equipped with Corsair IV




The town of Nowra lies on the southern shore of the Shoalhaven River, while Bomaderry is on the northern bank. The name Nowra is from an aboriginal word 'nou-woo-ro' reputedly meaning either 'camping place' or 'black cockatoo. The airfield lies 4 miles southwest of Nowra Township in the Shoal haven district of the South Coast of New South Wales.

In 1938, a survey of the Shoal haven area was made by the Department of Civil Aviation for an aerodrome and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Advanced Operational Base. A site was selected in an area known as Browns Hole, on the Braidwood Road, six miles from Nowra (This site would replace an existing unsuitable aerodrome on the edge of Nowra which was established in 1935). The Government acquired 357 acres of land at the Site on June 14th 1939, a further 118 acres being added shortly after war had been declared. Approval to develop the site for use by the RAAF was given on October 19th 1939, and permission to use the airfield for civil use, alongside the RAAF was given to Nowra Municipal Council in May 1940. The aerodrome was opened for civil flying on 21 July 1941, and work commenced on building a camp area with accommodation for 734 personnel, this requiring a further 50 acres acquisition. RAAF Nowra was not to become operational until May 7th 1942.

The main role of the base was to provide Torpedo Bomber training, and a BTU (Bombing and Torpedo Unit) was established, practice torpedoes being dropped at target ships in Jervis Bay. Shortly after Nowra opened for business they experienced their first aircraft accident; a USAAC (United States Army Air Corp) B26 Martin Marauder crashed while landing and was destroyed by fire, all survived. The station was to operate RAAF Beaufort Bombers, USAAC and Netherlands East Indies Air Force B25 aircraft over the next two years, all using the bombing and torpedo ranges. The Nowra runways were constructed of rolled compacted sand with a top dressing of ½ -1” of rolled tarred gravel, operations by heavy aircraft such as the Beaufort and B26 were to take their toll, the runways required frequent maintenance. The airfield is 359 feet above sea level with two sealed gravel runways of 2,430 and 2,150 yards in length. Permanent accommodation is in a camp on the North-eastern side of the landing area.

RN use of the airfield

In the winter of 1944, the Admiralty were deploying mobile naval air support units to provide aviation repair and servicing facilities for the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) as it began operations in the war against Japan. Initially these units would be installed at locations in Australia and be called forward as the Front-line moved closer to the Japanese mainland. In the summer of 1944 an Admiralty inspection team had visited a number of existing Royal Australian Air Force stations that were proposed, four were selected; Nowra and Jervis Bay, approximately 80 miles south of Sydney, Schofields, 30 miles west of Sydney, and Bankstown, 12 miles South West of Sydney, and a works programme began to bring them up to Naval requirements. Nowra was to be ready by December 1944 and work began to run-down RAAF operations in preparation for handing over the airfield.

RAAF Station Nowra was transferred to RN control on September 15th 1944 and was allocated for the installation of Mobile Naval Air Base No.1 (MONAB I), however the first RN personnel did not arrive until mid-December when the personnel of Mobile Air Torpedo Maintenance Unit No.6 arrived. This unit was to be installed alongside the only remaining RAAF unit at Nowra, the Base Torpedo Unit and work to establish a tented camp nearby to accommodate the unit and its personnel, 1 Lieutenant, 1 CPO, 4 POs & 30 ratings, began on December 15th.

Although MONAB I did not arrive in Sydney until December 20th 1944, on board the Troopship EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND, the units commanding officer, Commander G. A. Nunneley arrived at Nowra on December 19th. The main body of MONAB I was disembarked to Warwick Farm, a part of HMS GOLDEN HIND the RN barracks in Sydney, while an advance party went directly to Nowra. The first personnel arrived at Nowra on the 21st went 3 officers, 7 POs and 38 ratings arrived. They were followed by 1 PO and 3 ratings on the 23rd and on Christmas Eve 1 Sergeant and 43 marines arrived. The units store and equipment arrived at Sydney on board the transport S.S. SUFFOLK on Christmas Eve 1944. Work began immediately on unloading the stores and equipment for transport to Nowra, this being done by RAAF No. I Transportation & Movements Office. A further 9 POs and 33 ratings arrived on Christmas Day.


The RAAF were still on the site at this time, the Beaufort OTU had one unserviceable Beaufort remaining in the hangar, and this was eventually flown away in the middle of January 1945. The last of the RAAF officers and airmen had departed by the end of January 1945, flying control and meteorological services becoming MONAB Is responsibility.

Commissioned as an RN Air Station

The main party of MONAB I arrived at Nowra airfield on New Year’s Day, 1945 and commissioned the station as HMS NABBINGTON, Royal naval Air Station Nowra, on January 2nd however the station was still under (re)construction and some expansion work continued during January.

The first squadron to arrive at RNAS Nowra was 723 Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU), the personnel for this squadron had sailed from the UK on board the troopship ATHLONE CASTLE as part of an uplift of personnel including MONABs II and III. On their arrival in Sydney on January 27th the squadron personnel travelled to Nowra. At this time, they had no aircraft, these would not be issued until the end of February by MONAB II once it had become fully established at Bankstown, Sydney.

Disembarked squadrons arrive: The British Pacific Fleet (BPF) arrived off the New South Wales coast at the end of the first week of February and first aircraft disembarked to the station on February 9th, these were from 1830 and 1833 (Corsair) squadrons disembarked from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS. The following day three more squadrons arrived; 820 (Avenger) from HMS INDEFATIGABLE, 849 (Avenger) from HMS VICTORIOUS and 857 (Avenger) from HMS INDOMITABLE. They were joined by 1834 and 1836 (Corsair) squadrons from HMS VICTORIOUS and  1839 & 1844 (Hellcat) Squadrons from HMS INDOMITABLE. Last to disembark was 854 (Avenger) Squadron from ILLUSTRIOUS on the 11th.

Initially only six aircraft from each squadron were flown ashore, 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 60 aircraft and their air crews. This highlighted the fact that there was insufficient hangars or accommodation at Nowra at this time.

The personnel of 723 squadron travelled to RNAS Bankstown on February 27th to receive their equipment, 8 Martinet Target Tugs and 8 Corsair fighters and to commission as an FRU on the 28th. Also, on the 27th the disembarked squadrons began to re-join the fleet, 820, 849, 1834 ,1836, 1839 & 1844 Squadrons re-embarked in their respective carriers. 857 Squadron followed on the 28th, and 854 Squadron on March 6th. 1830 and 1833 squadrons were the last to leave on March 7th.

All operational flying transferred to Nowra’s satellite airfield at Jervis Bay, 15 miles to the southeast on March 7th. This was necessary to permit emergency repairs to be carried out on the runways & taxiways at Nowra which were deteriorating due to wet weather and heavy use. During this period Captain H.G. Dickinson {C.O. designate of MONAB V} relived Commander Nunnerley as commanding officer of MONAB I, assuming command on March 9th 1945.

Despite the large number of aircraft operating on the station there were only six flying incidents recorded for February and March, all but one involving Avengers: On February 14th JZ593 of 857 Squadron, flown by Sub-Lt G.W. Tookey RNVR, made a forced landing after the engine cut out after belching blue smoke from its exhausts; three days later the same pilot flying in JZ369 of 857 Squadron, also suffered a sudden engine failure landing crosswind while carrying out Aerodrome Dummy Deck Landings (ADDLs); on the 21st JZ505 820 squadron flown by Sub-Lt J.K. Johnstone RNVR swung off runway to port landing and dipped the starboard wingtip. Corsair JT697 ('T7P') of 1834 Squadron ditched in St. Georges Basin on the 24th, the pilot Sub-Lt S. Leonard, RNVR was rescued unhurt by an RAAF 107 squadron Kingfisher aircraft. On March 8th JZ110 of 854 squadron caught fire on the ground and was retained at Nowra; JZ280 of 706 Squadron, flown by Sub-Lt D.M. Bayne RNVR, swung on landing, braked hard and nosed over (at Jervis Bay?) on the 13th.

In early April three additional components were added to MONAB I, these were Mobile Repair (MR) 1, Maintenance, Storage & Reserve units (MSR) 1 & 2 which had arrived in Sydney with MONAB V, HMS NABSWICK. Each MSR unit was equipped and stored to maintain and store 50 reserve aircraft and were designed for inclusion in a type B (large) MONAB. The MR component was tasked with carrying out repairs above those handled by a Mobile Maintenance (MM) unit, but below the level requiring the attention of an aircraft repair yard; MR units were designed to be moved to any MONAB requiring their skills. While Nowra was closed for flying the men and equipment of MONAB V were ferried in from Sydney and preparations were made for their move to occupy Jervis Bay.

 Flying operations returned to Nowra on April 28th 1945 and MONAB V commissioned RNAS Jervis Bay as HMS NABSWICK on May 1st, Captain Dickinson re-joining his command., Captain J.D. Harvey assumed command of MONAB I. On May 18th 854 (Avenger) Squadron disembarked from ILLUSTRIOUS, it was earmarked as the first element for No. 3 Carrier Air Group (CAG), a new reserve Air Group which was to be formed at Nowra in August comprising of 854 (Avenger) and 1843 & 1845 (Corsair) Squadrons.

At the beginning of June 723 FRU, which had been operating from RNAS Jervis Bay since receiving its equipment, returned to Nowra on the 4th. INDOMITABLE’s 857 (Avenger), 1839 & 1844 (Hellcat) Squadrons arrived on the 5th in preparation for the carrier being placed in dockyard hands in Sydney for repairs and refit. One aircraft, FN434 a photo recon Hellcat, of 1839 squadron flown by Sub-Lt I.G. Dymott RNVR swung off the runway landing, braked hard to avoid a ditch and nosed over. The following day 849 (Avenger) Squadron disembarked from VICTORIOUS, re-embarking on the 24th.

Next to arrive, on July 14th, was 1845 (Corsair) Squadron from RNAS Maryborough, MONAB VI, to join No. 3 CAG. They were joined by 1846 (Corsair) Squadron which disembarked from HMS COLOSSUS on July 21st, and the following day 1843 (Corsair) Squadron arrived from RNAS Jervis Bay to complete No. 3 CAG. Which officially formed on August 2nd.

A near fatal accident occurred on July 19th during a training flight by aircraft of 1845 squadron, Corsair KD870 flown by Lt E.H.S. Wright RNZNVR and Corsair KD887 flown by Sub-Lt R.A. Coles RNVR, collided in a cross-over turn during formation flying. Lt Wright made a forced landing at RNAS Jervis Bay while Sub-Lt Coles landed safely at Nowra. There were two other Corsair incidents during July, Sub-Lt A.R. Thornton RNVR of 1843 squadron taxied over a wooden drain cover in KD600 on the 23rd causing the undercarriage to fall into a 2-foot-deep hole. ON the 30th Sub-Lt P.J. H. Ford RNVR of 1845 squadron ditched in Jervis Bay after the prop of his aircraft, Corsair KD628, struck the water and lost power; he was safely rescued.

INDOMITABLE's air group re-embarked at the start of August, 857 Squadron on the 2nd, and 1839 & 1844 Squadrons on the 3rd. 1844 squadron was to return on the 11th but re-joined the carrier after a brief 5 day stay and 1846 Squadron re-embarked in COLOSSUS on August 13th. Sub-Lt P.I. Hyde of 723 FRU made a forced landing in a field 3½ miles from the airfield on August 3rd after his engine cut out while doing a loop in Tiger moth A17-748, he landed safely with no damage.

Victory over Japan and reorganisation

On August 15th the Japanese surrendered and VJ Day was celebrated at Nowra by members of both MONABs I & V. Members of the ship’s companies marched through the streets of Nowra to mark VP Day on the 17th (In Australia the war's end was termed 'Victory in the Pacific' or VP day as opposed to Victory over Japan as it was known in Europe).

Elements of the BPF began to return to Nowra at the end of August; the 2nd CAG disembarked from FORMIDABLE, 1841 & 1842 (Corsair) Squadrons on the 23rd, followed by 848 (Avenger) Squadron on the 24th. 828 (Avenger) Squadron also disembarked from IMPLACABLE on the 24th. There were three accidents during August: Sub-Lt P.F. Stapleton RNVR of 848 squadron selected wheels-up instead of flaps after landing in FN931 on the 22nd; Sub-Lt J.R. Ferguson RCNVR taxied Corsair KD679 of 1843 squadron into a concrete picketing block and nosed up on the 28th; Sub-Lt T.E. Dunn RNVR of 1845 squadron was killed on august 20th when his aircraft, Corsair KD891, went into the sea flattening out from a steep angle after dropping a live bomb on the Jervis Bay range.

The only arrival in September was 1771 (Firefly) Squadron from IMPLACABLE on the 13th. Flying training continued and there were two Corsair incidents on this date, both involving aircraft from 1845 squadron; KD203 flown by Mid J.W. Hunt RNVR spun on the runway and Sub-Lt D.A. Coles RNVR in KD614 swung off the runway on take-off.

INDOMITABLE's 11th CAG began to arrive on the station beginning on October 10th when 1844 (Hellcat) Squadron disembarked, followed by 857 (Avenger) & 1839 (Hellcat) Squadrons on the 11th. On October 16th 1771 (Firefly) Squadron was disbanded. The 11th CAG effectively ceased to exist on their arrival at Nowra, the aircraft of both Hellcat squadrons were withdrawn and the personnel re-embarked in INDOMITABLE for passage to the UK on the 20th, only 857 Squadron re-embarked as an operational squadron once the carrier was at sea on the 22nd. Meanwhile 820 (Avenger) Squadron arrived, disembarking from INDEFATIGABLE on the 18th.

A new second-line squadron arrived on the station on October 24th, this was a leaner version of No. 706 Pool & Refresher Flying Training Squadron which had relocated from RNAS Maryborough to continue operations; this unit operated 12 aircraft, two each Avenger, Barracuda, Corsair, Firefly, Hellcat, Seafire, reduced from its previous strength of 36. The recently formed 3rd CAG was officially disbanded at Nowra on the same day; the squadron personnel of 854, 1843 and 1845 had already embarked in the troopship SS STRATHEDEN for passage to the UK. The personnel of 848 (Avenger), 1841 & 1842 (Corsair) Squadrons embarked in VICTORIOUS on October 25th for passage to the UK leaving their aircraft at Nowra. The next arrivals were the 16th CAG, 837 (Firefly) and 1831 (Corsair) squadrons which moved here from RNAS Jervis Bay on the 29th.

There were five flying incidents during October: On the 3rd Corsair KD368 of 1845 squadron, flown by Sub-Lt E. Humphrey RNVR, landed with port drift, braked sharply and nosed over; Barracuda MX577 of 837 squadron, flown by Sub-Lt R.D.B. Douglas-Boyd RNVR, swung on landing, ground looped and the undercarriage collapsed on the 5th; Avenger JZ534 of 820 squadron, flown by Sub-Lt R. Sunderland RNVR , while conducting ADDLs, bounced on landing and dropped its port wing which hit the runway on the 12th; Avenger JZ702 of 828 squadron, flown by Sub-Lt D.R. Wells RNVR landed with the undercarriage retracted during night ADDLs on the 23rd; Sub-Lt A. Fyles RNVR flying in Firefly MB523 of 837 squadron swung to port on landing, causing the undercarriage to collapse on the 30th.


Re-organisation: As part of a review of the naval air support in the Pacific theatre the Admiralty announced in October that four Mobile Units were to be disbanded in early November 1945, these were to be MONAB I, III, IV and VII; MONAB II, V & VI plus TAMY I would continue operations in support of fleet operations and the reception and disposal of aircraft arising from the disbandment of squadrons as the BPF began to reduce its size. As part of this downsizing operation MONAB V was to replace MONAB I at Nowra and MONAB VI would replace MONAB III at Schofields. MONAB VII personnel were to be redistributed to other units, many joining TAMY I.

With the arrival of the 16th CAG at Nowra all flying units had been relocated from RNAS Jervis Bay as preparations were made for the change over which would result in RNAS Jervis Bay reverting to the status of a satellite of Nowra. Flying training continued in early November resulting in three recorded flying incidents: On the 6th Corsair KD449 of 1831 Squadron nosed over landing and overturned pinning the pilot, Sub-Lt R.W.H. Boyns RNVR, underneath, he was safely recovered; also on the 5th Firefly MB549 of 706 Squadron landed with drift causing the starboard oleo to collapse, the aircraft nosed up and skidded on its starboard wing, the crew, Sub-Lt L R. Roberts RNVR & Sub-Lt M.G. Henry RNVR, were OK; Seafire NN399 of 706 Squadron, flown by Sub-Lt G.R. Rodd RNVR, swung landing in a cross-wind and the undercarriage collapsed on the 9th.

MONAB I, HMS NABBINGTON was paid off on November 15th 1945 and the station re-commissioned by MONAB V as HMS NABSWICK on the same date. At this time there was one second-line unit, 706 Squadron, and four front-line units 820 & 828 (Avenger), 837 (Firefly) and 1831(Corsair) present at Nowra; 820 Squadron re-embarked in INDEFATIGABLE on November 23rd.


In line with the new peace-time policy for squadrons operating on the Light Fleet Carriers each CAG was s to be reorganised; a reduction in size for both squadrons, Corsairs from 21 to 12 while the 16 Barracudas were replaced by 12 Fireflies. 1831 squadron had its strength reduced from 21 to 12 aircraft on November 26th (837 had already been re-equipped at Jervis Bay). There was one flying accident during December 1944, on the 3rd Sub-Lt L. Sharples RNVR was killed when his aircraft, Corsair KD864 of 706 crashed into the bush 6 miles SE of Nowra and was engulfed in flames. He had been returning to Nowra in formation with two Seafires from a low level cross-country flight and was missed after a scheduled turn.

The 15th CAG was the next to arrive, 814 (Barracuda) and 1851 (Corsair) squadrons, disembarked from the Light Fleet Carrier VENERABLE on New Year’s Eve. These squadrons were to receive the same reorganisation as those in GLORY’s Air Group. Flying training had continued at Nowra for both the 15th and 16th CAG and there were three more flying incidents during this period; on January 7th Sub-Lt J, Aston RNVR in Corsair KD736 of 1831, Stalled landing and his wingtip hit the Deck Landing Control Officer (ADDLs?) , Firefly DK487 of 814 Squadron, flown by Sub-Lt A. Kerry RNVR stalled on approach, and struck rough ground on the 12th, Sub-Lt R.N. Toseland RNVR in Corsair KD915 of 1831, dropped his starboard wing after landing in crosswind on the 17th.

With the New Year RNAS Nowra began its run-down towards closure in March 1946; squadrons remaining on the station were to be relocated, many to RNAS Schofields, MONAB VI. The 16th CAG began re-embarking in GLORY on January 14th with the departure of 837 squadron, followed by 1831 on the 19th. No.706 squadron was the first unit to move to RNAS Schofields, on January 18th they were followed by 723 FRU on the 21st, 814 on the 22nd and 1851 on the 24th. By the end of January 828 squadron was the last remaining occupant of RNAS Nowra.

Paying off and returned to RAAF Control

Stocks of reserve aircraft held on the station were flown to RNAS Bankstown over the next month. In late February the men of HMS NABSWICK sentimentally marched through the streets of Nowra to say farewell to the town. MONAB V, HMS NABSWICK paid off at Nowra on March 18th 1946.

The Station was returned to RAAF control the next day, it was immediately reduced to reserve status, 'to be retained, but not maintained'. No. 828 squadron remained at Nowra as a lodger unit with the RAAF until embarking in IMPLACABLE on May 5th 1946 for passage to the UK, leaving their aircraft behind.

Post war use

The Station was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) on December 15th 1947 as the logical choice for the first shore establishment for the Australian Fleet Air Arm. An advance party had left Sydney for Nowra on 8 May 1948 to begin transforming the wartime airfield into a Naval Air Station. The airfield had been vacant for the past two years and had been subjected to widespread vandalism and extensive refurbishment was required to make the Station habitable.

Naval Air Station (NAS) Nowra, HMAS ALBATROSS was commissioned on 31 August 1948. NAS Nowra was to become the FAA's main training establishment and the appropriate support facilities had to be established; classrooms, accommodation, galleys, stores and married quarters. Additionally, a dummy carrier flight deck was required for the new School of Aircraft Handling. All this had to be achieved in seven months to be ready for the arrival of the 20th Carrier Air Group (CAG) in May the following year.

he site was to be home to the following schools: School of Aircraft Maintenance - Engineering; School of Aircraft Maintenance - Electrical; School of Aircraft Maintenance - Radio; School of Aircraft Ordnance; Photographic School; Meteorological School; School of Aircraft Handling; and Pilot and Observer Training Schools.  

 The Majestic class Light Fleet Carrier HMAS SYDNEY (ex HMS TERRIBLE) arrived in Jervis Bay on May 25th 1949 with the first Australian Naval Air Squadrons, 805 (13 Sea Fury FB.11) and 816 (12 Firefly FR.4) embarked. In total SYDNEY carried 27 Sea Fury FB.11s, 27 Firefly FR,4s and 2 Sea Otters plus stores, ground equipment and squadron maintenance personnel from the UK. The 2 Sea otters were the first aircraft to land at Nowra, they had been lowered over the side by the ship’s crane. The flight deck was crammed with airframes and equipment so flying off the deck was not possible; the airframes and equipment were ferried ashore by lighter and the aircraft were then towed to Nowra in convoys, the last arriving on May 29th. It was another two weeks before flying could commence due to inclement weather.

 NAS Nowra is still in operation (2021) supporting an all rotary-wing force and is also the home of the RAN Fleet Air Arm Museum (Est 1974).


Last updated 17 June 2022



Click here for a list of Primary sources

Additional sources:

Flag Officer Naval Air Pacific (FONAP) report on organisation and on proceedings Sept 1945-Mar 1946 with summary of MONAB planning and recommendations Part VIII, Section II - Transfer and construction of airfields for the Royal Navy in Australia. Held by UK National Archive ADM 116/5677 (Author's collection)

Flag Officer Naval Air Pacific (FONAP) report on organisation and on proceedings Sept 1945-Mar 1946 with summary of MONAB planning and recommendations Part IX section 1; Report of Proceedings of H.M.S. Nabbington (M.O.N.A.B. 1. Nowaa). Held by UK National Archive ADM 116/5677 (Author's collection)

Flag Officer Naval Air Pacific (FONAP) report on organisation and on proceedings Sept 1945-Mar 1946 with summary of MONAB planning and recommendations Part IX section 5; REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS OF H.M.S. NABSWICK (M.O.N.A.B. 5 – Jervis Bay) Held by UK National Archive ADM 116/5677 (Author's collection)


Operations Record Book of RAAF Nowra Base Torpedo Unit
Digitized material held by the Australian War Memorial ( AWM64 51/6  accessed 15 June 2022


Admiralty Fleet Orders:

A.F.O. 7502/45 Mobile Naval Air Base No.I ("H.M.S. Nabbington") Paying Off

A.F.O. 2367/46 Mobile Naval Air Base No.V ("H.M.S. Nabswick") Paid Off


Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders:

C.A.F.O. 14345 R.N. Air Station Nowra - manned by Mobile Naval Air Base No.I

C.A.F.O. 247/45 R.A.A.F. Station. Nowra - loan to Royal Navy





Nowra c.1950s. There are five additional hangars on the site (blue crosses - 2 adjacent to the camp area & 3 along the SE dispersal) but otherwise the station is as it was in early 1946 when the RN left.




Nowra c. late 1945. View of the SE dispersal with Corsairs, Avengers and Hellcats parked in rows.  The Igloo and small Bellman hangar are clearly visible.


Nowra post-war c. 1949. Little has changed since the RN left, this shot shows the Igloo, small bellman to the right of the control Tower and four larger Bellman hangars to the left. New works have begun, a new hangar is under construction at the end of the row of 4 Bellman, a further three will be added adjacent to the SE dispersal.



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