March 1945 - May 1946
The MILES M.25 MARTINET Target Tug. In RN service aircraft
was overall canary Yellow with black anti-glare on the upper engine cowling.
image © IWM (ATP 10842C)
Formation and work-up
The core personnel of 723 Squadron assembled in the United Kingdom at
Townhill Camp on November 21st 1944, and took passage for Australia on December 22nd on board the troopship R.M.S. Athlone Castle as part of an uplift of personnel including Mobile Naval Air Bases (MONAB) 2 and 3. On their arrival in Sydney on January 27th the squadron assembled at
RNAS Nowra, New South Wales which had been opened as a Royal Naval Air Station by MONAB 1 on January 2nd 1945 as
MONAB 2 had taken over RAAF
Bankstown, Sydney on January 29th and commissioned as
HMS NABBERLEY, once fully established as a Fleet Air Arm Receipt and Dispatch Unit the squadron personnel arrived on the station to officially form on February 28th as a Fleet Requirements Unit, Lt. Cdr (A) H. A. P. Bullivant RNVR in command.
Initial equipment issue was 8 Martinet TT.Is and 8 Corsairs; 2 Expeditor C.IIs were also on strength to establish communications flights in advance of the formation of
724 communications squadron which would begin operation in April. The squadron carried out a short workup period at
RNAS Bankstown during March in preparation for beginning active duties, making flights to the
RNAS Nowra and its satellite at
There were several flying incidents during this first months of operation, all involving Martinets; Prior to the official squadron formation Sub-Lt. D. Bogle RNVR damaged PX195 when his starboard wing dropped on landing on February 11t. On March 15th Sub-Lt. W.J. Bailey RNVR had to make a precautionary landing at
Nowra in NR523, and Sub-Lt. D. Parrack RNVR landed PX197 without lowering the undercarriage on the 19th. Tragically two squadron personnel were killed on March 23rd when an unidentified Martinet on a test flight from
RNAS Jervis Bay dove into the sea soon after take-off, the pilot Lt. C.R.T. Pemberton-Bartlett RNVR
and Air Mechanic D.W. Rutty were both killed.
The squadron was to operate from
RNAS Nowra from May 1st but had to be accommodated at nearby
RNAS Jervis Bay while the runways at Nowra were under repair, finally moving to
RNAS Nowra on June 4th. Their primary tasks were to provide both towed drogue targets and ‘attacking aircraft’ for ship and aircraft gunnery practice, radar calibration and radar interception targets for ships and squadrons in the Sydney area. Twelve Beaufighter IIs were allocated to the squadron to replace the Corsairs in the ‘off shoot’ gunnery role and plans were made to include anti- jamming and radar training using two specially converted former RAAF Ansons but these had not appeared by the wars end but an RAAF Tiger Moth (A17-749) was added to the inventory in August.
In November 1945 the RN presence in
the Pacific theatre was being scaled
back, on November 15th
HMS NABBINGTON (MONAB 1), was paid off and
RNAS Nowra was
recommissioned the same day as
HMS NABDSWICK by MONAB 5,
RNAS Jervis Bay reverting to the status of a satellite airfield. 723 moved to
HMS NABSTOCK (MONAB 6) on January 21st 1946.
On February 11th Lt. (A) G.H. Horne RNVR took over as commanding officer of the squadron but a decision about its future it had already been taken and it was disbanded at
RNAS Schofields on May 31st 1946.
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07 July 2021
Sources used in compiling this account:
Sturtivant, R. & Burrows, M. (1995)'Fleet Air Arm
Aircraft 1939 to 1945' Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain
Sturtivant, R & Balance, T., (1994)'Squadrons of the
Fleet Air Arm' Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain (Historians)