Friday, May 15, 2015

Tuggerah RAAF Airfield WW2

Google earth image showing airfield location in 1942
In 1942 a single runway was constructed by the Australian Army at Lake road Tuggerah , this was part of a network of coastal landing strips that were used for emergency landings by military aircraft travelling along the seaboard.
In the case of an all out attack by the Japanese , these airstrips were also to be used as " dispersal " airfields , larger squadrons would split up and various aircraft would be assigned to different locations.
Plans were made to house 8 medium bombers at the Tuggerah site , the strip was to be used by the American Fleet Air Arm group called Fleur , based at Penrith NSW
Locals recall several incidents at the strip during the war involving military and private aircraft , I have posted an excerpt from my blog article on my site visit in 2008

Mr Lake was only to happy to regale me with his knowledge of the strip in the wartime years , it was built by over 100 men who had a main camp in Church Road.
The strip runs right past Mr Lake's backyard and he recalls many Catalina flying boats doing practice " bump and run " landings on the strip , this was to practice landing with the planes ground landing gear.

Close up aerial image showing the outline of the runway
He also told me of a British aircraft carrier borne fighter ( possibly a Supermarine Seafire ) crashing on the strip one afternoon , with it's tanks leaking fuel and the locals being under fuel rationing , a few locals gathered with jerry cans in anticipation of some free juice.
The British Marines arrived soon after to guard the wreck and let the planes tanks drain entirely into the ground before the dismayed locals , " after that we didn't like those poms " Mr Lake remarked.
Another time a local in a private aircraft had to make an emergency landing on the nearly completed strip at Tuggerah , Mr Lake was watching him approach the field and was worried he was also about the shot down by the troops guarding the area , luckily they didn't but the plane rolled on landing and Mr Lake had to go save the unfortunate chap from the tangled mess of his overturned craft.
After the war the runway was built over on the southern end , the northern end is virtually fully preserved as it lays on land owned by the Electricity Commission and a local landowner.
It ran from Wyong Road near the soccer fields in the south , north east past the electrical substation on Lake road.

Tuggerah site visit 2008

Article by Steve Spillard COPYRIGHT 2015

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