No. 9 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF

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Brief History

No. 9 Airfield Construction Squadron began its existence as No. 9 Works Maintenance Unit on 4 Jan 1943. Although initially billeted at Royal Park, Victoria, the unit moved to Ryder Oval, Brunswick, to wait for additional personnel and the heavy equipment. By April much of the equipment had still not arrived, so the unit was dispatched to Kapooka, where members received training under the supervision of the Royal Australian Engineers Training Centre. This training continued for three months, during which time the unit was instructed in basic construction and demolition work, fieldcraft and weapon handling, and ordnance disposal. The majority of the personnel returned to Melbourne on 10 July, to prepare to deploy northwards next day.

In July advance parties travelled to the Northern Territory to survey suitable locations and provide for the unit's arrival. By August detachments were established at Larrimah, Livingstone, Strauss, Hughes, Coomalie Creek, Darwin and Howard River. The unit experienced its first air raid on the night of 12 November, when a lone Japanese aircraft dropped five bombs about a mile away. During the next month, the unit was directed to assume responsibility for works then in progress by 3 Mobile Works Squadron. A work cycle of three seven-hour shifts was instituted, providing a three hour maintenance period for plant and allowing greater serviceability. Heavy rains throughout the region impacted their work during the wet season. During March, a large detachment of men to moved to Rapid Creek, Darwin.

The unit suffered its first fatality on 11 May 1944, when a man was killed by rock thrown up from blasting operations near Rapid Creek. By mid-1944 the un1t was dispersed, w1th 283 men at Rapid Creek, 58 at 34 M1le camp, five at 40 Mile Creek and 23 at the Batchelor Road camp. Later that month the unit built a lighter strip on Melville Island, which required the attachment of several small vessels to the unit to transport equ1pment. On 15 Jul 1944 the un1t was officially re-named No. 9 Airfield Construction Squadron. In September the unit was granted leave prior to them proceeding to Mt Martha in November for training under the instruction of the RAAF Combat Training Unit. This training continued until 12 Jan 1945, during which time a member of the unit died from a fall. Following thier training, for the next six months the Squadron was used in small detachments throughout Victoria and New South Wales.

The Squadron was thrust back into the War at Balikpapan on 31 Aug 1945, where it maintained sections of the Vasey Highway and undertook bridging tasks. With the cessation of hostilities the unit remained on Borneo, causing problems as construction crews who had landed earlier in the War were preparing to depart. When those units had departed, when the Squadron accepted responsibility for all works. The Squadron was disbanded on 15 Dec 1945.

Battle Honours

  • Balikpapan

Squadron Personnel


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