AIR FORCE HOUSE MELBOURNE
53 MARKET STREET, MELBOURNE, VIC
DURING WWII

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Air Force House in Melbourne was located at 53 Market Street, Melbourne, Victoria. It was established as a Hostel for Air Force personnel. When it first opened it had 80 beds and a new wing was opened in September 1940 bringing the total number of beds available to 275. It was officially opened by Air-Chief Marshal Sir Charles S. Burnett, K.C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., on 3 July 1940.

The organisation known as Air Force House was authorised under the Patriotic Funds Act of Victoria, 1939. The idea for establishing Air Force House was first suggested at a public meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall. It's existence was made possible by the assistance of numerous generous donors. Air Force Auxiliaries provided invaluable assistance and raised a large amount of money towards the maintenance costs for Air Force House.

300 to 400 voluntary workers were organised in three shifts for Canteen Work and between 50 and 70  members of the Women's Air Training Corps made beds each morning.

Air Force House had a writing room, recreation room, lounge and a library. The Victorian Women's Journalists' War Service Committee ran the library and provided books free of charge.

The beds in the Hostel were generally always fully booked out most weekends. 132,709 meals were served in the Dining Room between 1 September 1940 and 30 June 1941. This figure included 1,099 meals served to women from the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force which was established in March 1941. It did not include meals served in the Canteen.

The combined Kitchen and Dining Room was open from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm. The charge for breakfast was 6 Pence or 9 Pence, and lunch was either 8 Pence or 1 Shilling.

54,711 beds had been provided between 3 July 1940 and 30 June 1941. It cost only 1 Shilling for a bed for one night, plus a towel and a shower. Dinner at night time cost 8 Pence or 1 Shilling.

The Victoria League in Victoria established a free of charge Hospitality Bureau at Air Force House. Dances, Theatre Parties, etc were all arranged. They also arranged external billets for the men where needed. Hospitality was extended to 53,580 men between 3 July 1940 and 30 June 1941.

In July 1941 the Management Structure for Air Force House was as follows:-

PATRON
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne - Cr. Frank Beaurepaire

PRESIDENT
Mrs. J. V. Fairbairn

TRUSTEES
Sir Harold Luxton, K.B.
Air-Commodore A.T. Cole, C.B.E., M.C., D.F.C.
M. H. Baillieu, Esq.

HONORARY TREASURER
M. H. Baillieu, Esq.

HONORARY SECRETARY
John J. Woodward, F.C.A. (Aust.)

ASSISTANT HONORARY SECRETARY
R. C. Evans, Esq.

HONORARY AUDITORS
Messrs. Sherlock & Daniell

HONORARY ARCHITECTS
Messrs. Stephenson & Turner

MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
Mrs. J. V. Fairbairn
M. H. Baillieu, Esq.
Mrs. Alex Russell
Air-Commodore A.T. Cole, C.B.E., M.C., D.F.C.
Miss I. Connolly
Mrs. Ross Grey Smith
R. C. Evans, Esq.
Mrs. Eric Harrison
J. S. Dunbar, Esq.
Miss M. K. Stuart
R. Turnbull, Esq.
Sir Harold Luxton, K.B.
J. J. Woodward, Esq.

GENERAL COMMITTEE
Sir Harold Gengoult Smith, K.B.
D. M. Taylor, Esq.
Hon. W. L. Russell Clarke
E. C. Tronson, Esq.
Captain R. Ross
Lady Brooks, C.B.E.
D. Lavery, Esq.
Mrs T. W. White, O.B.E.
L. Nelken, Esq.
Mrs. S. Addison
G. R. Nicholas, Esq.
Mrs. Harold Darling
R. Ritchie, Esq.
Mrs. G. Hain
J. M. Sinclair, Esq.
Mrs. L. Nelken
Sergeant Sinclair
Mrs. Richard Turnbull
Ross Grey Smith, Esq.
Mrs. R. Williams
A. G. Stephenson, Esq.
Miss S. J. Burnett

Air Force House in Melbourne was eventually closed in 1946.

 

REFERENCES

Air Force House Booklet
The National Library of Australia

 

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This page first produced 7 October 2011

This page last updated 09 October 2011