The MONAB Story

A history of the mobile airfields of the Royal Navy


Transportable Aircraft Maintenance Yard No. I


Assembly and commissioning in the UK

Personnel and equipment for Mobile Naval Air base I began to assemble at Royal Naval Air Station Ludham, Norfolk on September 4th 1944, the same day as Ludham commissioned as a naval air station and headquarters for the Mobile Naval Airfields Organisation (MNAO). The unit was to form as a type A (Small) MONAB tasked with supporting up to 50 aircraft and was allocated the following maintenance components:

Mobile Maintenance (MM) unit No. 1 supporting Avenger Mk.I & II, Corsair Mk.II & IV,  Hellcat Mk.I & II
Maintenance Servicing (MS) unit No. 1 supporting Avenger Mk.I & II
Maintenance Servicing (MS) unit No. 2 supporting Corsair Mk.II & IV

Additional components added later in Australia: -
Maintenance, Storage & Resave units (MSR) No. 1 & 2 supporting Avenger Mk.I & II, Corsair Mk.II & IV & Hellcat Mk.I & II
Mobile Repair unit (MR) No.1 supporting all front-line types operated by the BPF
(see MONAB components page for further details)

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. The specialist vehicles for the unit did not exist prior to the late summer of 1944 when resources became available. These had to be specially converted and outfitted and many arrived too late to sail with the unit when it sailed from the UK. Stores and specialist tools were also 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 too 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 on October 28th 1944 bearing the ship’s name HMS 'NABBINGTON', Commander G.A. Nunneley in command.

Despatch overseas

By mid-November the unit was ready for despatch overseas; all of the mobile units planned had been allocated to the support of the new British Pacific Fleet which was to begin operations in the South Western Pacific in early 1945. Australia was to be the rear echelon area for the fleet and a number of the MONABs were to be installed there.


Commissioned at RNAS Nowra, New South Wales

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. The station was still under reconstruction at this time and some expansion work continued during January.


Victory over Japan and the rundown to closure

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).


Paying Off

HMS NABBINGTON, MONAB I, paid off at Nowra on November 15th 1945. RNAS Nowra re-commissioned as HMS NABSWICK, the same day, MONAB V replacing MONAB I taking over the stores and equipment in situ. Some of the personnel of MONAB I were drafted back to the UK to be demobbed, others were dispersed to other units in Australia.




Blank ship’s badge
No badge issued for this ship




The support of disembarked TBR Squadrons, the provision of Continuation & Refresher Flying Training.  Fleet Requirements Unit (No. 723 squadron)

Aviation support Components

Mobile Maintenance (MM) 1

Maintenance Servicing (MS) 1& 2

Mobile Repair (MR) 1

Maintenance, Storage & Resave (MSR) 1 & 2

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

Aircraft type supported

Avenger Mk. I & II

Corsair Mk. II & IV

Hellcat Mk. I & II

Martinet TT. I  

Commanding Officers

Commander. G. A. Nunneley 28 Oct1944

Captain H. G. Dickinson 09 March 1945
Captain J. D Harvey 01 May 1845





Related items

R.N.A.S. Nowra History of the airfield and other information - part of the Fleet Air Arm Bases web site







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