Francis Neal McGurk
From Our Contribution
|Date of Birth||1 Aug 1919|
|Place of Birth||Boulder, Western Australia|
|Death||19 Jun 2000, aged 80|
|Place of Death||Armadale, Western Australia|
|Age at Enlistment||23 years, 3 months|
5'8" (1.73m) tall ; 154lbs|
69.853 kg; fair complexion ; blue eyes ; brown hair
|Address||Prospect road, Armadale, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Father , Mr Neil McGurk|
|Date of Enlistment||20 Nov 1942|
|Unit/Formation||No. 5 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF|
|1st Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||Mar 1944 ‒ 1 Apr 1944|
|Transport Details||SS David F. Barry Melbourne to Lae, Papua New Guinea|
|Journey Dates||‒ 23 Apr 1944|
|Transport Details||unknown Lae to Aitape|
|Journey Dates||3 Jul 1944 ‒ 6 Jul 1944|
|Transport Details||2 x LSTs Aitape to Noemfoor Island, Dutch New Guinea|
|Journey Dates||‒ January 1945|
|Transport Details||unknown Noemfoor to Biak Island|
|Journey Dates||‒ 13 May 1945|
|Transport Details||LST 806 & LST 912 Biak Island to Morotai|
‒ 4 - 11 Jun 1945|
"4 - 11 Jun 1945" contains more than three components required for a date interpretation.
|Transport Details||unknown Morotai to Labuan, North Borneo|
|Post War Details|
|Fate||Returned to Australia|
1939-45 Star |
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45
Prior to enlisting in the RAAF, Francis had previously been rejected by the Army Militia as medically unfit. In his application he stated that he had worked for eight years in the Boiler Shop at WAGR Workshops (Midland Junction)
Enlisted as an Aircraftsman level 1 and mustered as Trainee Technical on 20 Nov 1942. After a preliminary Drill training course at No.4 Recruit Depot at Pearce he was posted on 30 Nov 1942 to No. 5 School of Technical Training RAAF in Perth where he undertook the No. 148 Fitter General Course. Posted on 11 Feb 1943 to the No. 1 Engineering School RAAF in Ascot Vale, Victoria, he undertook the No. 11 Fitter General Course between 13 Feb and 14 May 1943 after which he was re-mustered as a Fitter General.
On 1 Apr 1943 he was posted to No. 4 School of Technical Training RAAF until 22 May 1943 when he moved to the No. 1 Operational Training Unit RAAF in East Sale. While there he was promoted to Leading Aircraftsman on 16 Aug 1943. On 14 Sep 1943 he was posted to the No. 5 Aircraft Depot RAAF at Forest Hill (Wagga Wagga) New South Wales. He was again sent to the No. 1 Engineering School RAAF at Ascot Vale from 15 Dec 1943 until 24 Jan 1944, where he undertook the No. 9B Junior NCO Course. The next day he had returned to No. 5 Aircraft Depot RAAF.
On 1 Mar 1944 Francis was posted to No 5. Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF and on 1 Apr 1944 he remustered as a Fitter Works. The majority of the unit sailed from Melbourne to Lae in Papua, New Guinea aboard SS David F. Barry, arriving in Lae on 1 May 1944. He was paid as an Acting Corporal from 1 Nov 1944 to 11 Sep 1945. (While his records don't mention movements overseas, on 2 Jan 1946 Francis signed a Statutory Declaration saying that he had served overseas for 19 months with No. 5 A.C.S. which earlier was known as No. 5 Mobile Works Squadron).
In early 1944 5MWS became part of a force of RAAF and United States Army aviation engineer units which were selected to build airfields at Aitape in New Guinea from which air support would be provided to Allied operations around Hollandia after US Army forces landed there on 22 April. 5MWS departed Melbourne on 15 Feb 1944, and joined the main body of the airfield engineer force at Lae on 1 Apr 1944 where it received training in infantry tactics. The Landing at Aitape took place on 22 Apr 1944, and 5MWS came ashore the next day. The airfield at Aitape was ready to be used from 25 April and was later expanded by the aviation engineers. On 6 July 5MWS landed on Noemfoor Island where it again formed part of an aviation engineer force tasked with repairing and expanding the island's airfields. Allied forces had first landed on the island on 2 July, and it was still not secure when construction work began. As a result, 5MWS personnel were required to man perimeter defences, during which they captured 12 Japanese personnel. While at Noemfoor 5MWS was redesignated No. 5 Airfield Construction Squadron (5ACS) on 18 Jul 1944.] As at 25 Nov 1944, No. 4 & 5 Airfield Construction Squadrons were the main units of No. 62 Wing. This wing formed part of the Australian First Tactical Air Force, which was the RAAF's main mobile force.
In January 1945 4ACS and 5ACS moved to Biak island where they worked on improving facilities used by the US Army and United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). In mid-May 1945 4ACS and 5ACS traveled together to Morotai. They remained on this island until June when they departed as part of the Australian led Battle of North Borneo. The two squadrons landed at Labuan on 11 June and worked on repairing and maintaining the island's airfield until the end of the war on 15 August.
With the war over, on 21 Sep 1945 Francis returned to No. 5 Personnel Depot RAAF in WA allowing him to marry Faith Passmore on 6 Oct 1945 (Faith died 18 Aug 1986, aged 66 in Armadale). After leave he was reallocated to No. 4 Transport & Movements Office RAAF until 14 Dec 1945 when he again was on the strength of No. 5 Personnel Depot. Francis was discharged on 2 Jan 1946.
Electoral Roll entries: 1949 at Prospect road, railway employee; 1954 - 1968 at John street, Armadale, shop assistant; 1972 - 1980 at 116 South West highway, bus proprietor.
Played a Saxaphone. Details of the unit's movements are from "Always First - The RAAF Airfield Construction Squadrons 1942-1974 by David Wilson.