Royal Australian Air Force Avenue of HonourPrint Page
An Avenue of Honour commemorates the 87 Royal Australian Air Force personnel who lost their lives while based at Bairnsdale.
|Address:||Bengworden Road, Bairnsdale Aerodrome, Bairnsdale, 3875|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -37.878383|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Monument Type:||Avenue of Honour|
|Actual Event STart Date:||03-September-1939|
|Actual Event End Date:||15-August-1945|
Avenue of Honour
No.7 (Hudson) Squadron),
2 April 1942 - 18 August 1942
No.1 Operational Training Unit,
14 June 1942 - 22 April 1943
General Reconnaissance School,
24 April 1943 - 13 March 1946
In the years immediately preceding the Second World War the Commonwealth Government gave high priority to developing new coastal air bases at Mallacoota and Bairnsdale, to assist in protecting the strategic shipping lanes in and around Bass Strait.Planning was well under way when war was declared on 3 September 1939. As a result, construction of Bairnsdale aerodrome commenced the next day. Sufficient work was completed for establishment of a forward air base as early as January 15 1940, when Ansons, (later Hudsons) of No. 2 Squadron ,providing convoy protection to elements of the 2nd AIF at the start of their overseas voyages, began using the forward base for refuelling.
RAAF Bairnsdale became fully operational in May 1942 with the arrival of No. 7 Squadron, operating Hudson aircraft on shipping convoy escort and anti-submarine patrols.
No.1 Operational Training Unit, the first the first to be equipped with new, Australian-built Beaufort bombers, moved to Bairnsdale on 14 June 1942, remaining until 22 April 1943 During this time the Beaufort – a new aircraft designed ti arm rapidly expanding bombing and reconnaissance squadrons of the Air Force – became synonymous with Bairnsdale.
In 10 months at Bairnsdale No. 1 O.T.U. trained 631 pupils, flew 38,875 hours and had an aircraft in the air every minute of the 24 hours. But the cost was heavy – there were 53 crashes, including aircraft lost at sea, with at least 71 young airmen killed and a further number seriously injured. In January 1943 RAAF Bairnsdale had a total complement of 1,997 officers and airmen and 117 WAAAF members, plus 285 trainees. Added to this was a Special Transport Flight of 12 Hudson crews and ground staff, dispatched during December 1942 to New Guinea to assist in dropping supplies to ground troops in the Buna area. Of these 12 Hudsons, two were lost, with four men killed in action and a further four seriously injured.
At this time 100 aircraft were based at Bairnsdale – 50 Beauforts, 12 Hudsons, 25 Oxfords, 12 Fairey Battles and one Tiger Moth, plus the 12 Hudsons in Papua. When I O.T.U. transferred to East Sale in April 1943 the incoming unit, General Reconnaissance School, operated Avro Ansons, a more doc