No. 6 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF

From Our Contribution

6 ACS.jpg
May 1945 ^ ACS loading an LST for voyage to Sanga Sanga in the Tawitawi Island group

Brief History

The first members of the then 6 Mobile Works Squadron arrived at Ascot Vale on 10 Dec 1942, and were followed a week later by another officer and 293 men. The unit moved briefly to Royal Park, and then to Glebe in January 1943 before moving to Bankstown by 19 Jan 1943.

On 27 Jan 1943 an advance part departed for Milne Bay in PNG. The rest of the Squadron soon followed aboard the SS George McCrary, disembarking at Milne Bay on 13 February after a 10 day voyage from Sydney via a stop over in Townsville to unload an ill member of the unit. The unit's equipment a week later and on 22 Feb 1943 they began construction of a camp and access roads. Next was the construction of a 6,000 feet (1,829m) long by 100 feet (30.5m) wide airstrip, completed by mid March, and taxiways in April. Heavy rainfall often caused lengthy delays. The first use of the airstrip occurred on 14 Jul 1943.

On 30 July the Squadron began loading onto two Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs) in preparation for transportation to Kiriwana. By 3 August the first ship had arrived, and by 5 August the second had been unloaded. This left 70 personnel still at M1lne Bay. The initial clearing and gravelling of the runway at Kiriwana had been completed by 17 August, with only the top preparation to be applied, and construction of the taxiways. On 10 October, the runway was open to all categories of aircraft, while the taxiways were still only suitable for fighter aircraft.

In December 1943 the Squadron redeployed to Lae, on the PNG mainland. On 20 November the Milne Bay detachment, having completed all tasks, boarded the SS Karsik, bound for the main body of 6 Mobile Works Squadron. They arrived at Lae on 24 November. On I December the LSTs landed at Heath's Plantation, near Lac, to unload the main body of the Squadron. heir first task was the upgrading of the road from Lac to Nadzab, followed by the construction of Newton Field. At this stage the Squadron strength was 478 enlisted men and 19 officers. At the beginning of 1944 the unit finished work on Newton and began construction of Texter Field. On 5 April, the Squadron began to move back towards Lae along the road that it had built and from there Squadron personnel were transported to Aitape, landing on 22 Apr 1944. On Aitape, the Squadron assisted in the construction of the Tadji strip. From the beginning of May, the Squadron worked on the construction of facilities for 111 Fighter Sector Command Post, and followed this with building of the site for 10 Operational Group, as well as 78 Wing.

Towards the end of June 1944, the unit received word its return to Australia, and preparations were made for the move south. On 1 July the Milne Bay and Goodenough detachments assembled, and on 16 July, 51 members of the Squadron left Milne Bay by barge for Goodenough, along with two days rations. After the barge became overdue, a search by sea and air commenced and it was finally discovered at Sura Bay with all members in good health. By the end of July, the main body of the Squadron had reached Australia for a months leave. The unit undertook civil works in Victoria until 24 Feb 1945, when it moved to Sydney before deploying to Morotai. An advance party reached Morotai on 4 April, but the rest of the Squadron did not arrive for over a month, primarily due to transport difficulties. Once on Morotai, the unit began road construction and assisted in the preparation of facilities for the 'Oboe' landings. On 24 May a detachment proceeded by LST to Tawitawi. By 5 July, the Squadron was at Klandasan on Borneo where they constructed the construction of the airfield at Sepinang. The rear guard from Morotai reached Borneo on 31 July 1945 in time for a gradual winding down of the unit's activities. However, a member of the rear guard had been killed in an accident at Morotai on 22 Jul 1945, the unit's only fatality.


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