CUNDERDIN AIRFIELD, WA
DURING WW2

 

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WW 2 SITES UNDER THREAT - CUNDERDIN AIRFIELD, WA
(Information supplied by Lindsay Peet)

There are eleven timber buildings from 1941-2 near to the one remaining Bellman hangar. They are best termed 'tarmac buildings' as they were directly related to flying activities. This group of twelve WW2 buildings are under threat of demolition by the Shire of Cunderdin who wanted three demolished by March 1996 to construct an Indonesian flying training school. The Shire owns the airfield, having purchased it from the Commonwealth in 1992. Some of the buildings are owned by the Gliding Club of WA, some by private gliding syndicates. The remainder are owned by the Shire.

The National Trust of Australia (WA) classified this group in March 1996. The Heritage Council of WA has twice recommended it to the WA Minister for Heritage, Mr Graham Keirath, namely 1996 and 1997. He is still considering it. Meantime the Indonesian flying school has died of natural causes.

A Conservation Plan for the group of twelve was been prepared by the Research Institute for Cultural Heritage at Curtin University (Bentley, WA) in 1999. A Conservation Plan for the most threatened building, the RAAF Motor Transport Garage and Office was prepared in 1999 by Lindsay Peet (historian & heritage consultant) and David Kelsall (heritage architect).

Cunderdin Airfield was used for flying training as No. 9 Elementary Flying Training School 1941-1944. Early in 1945 No. 25 Sqn moved there with its new B-24 Liberators, which staged north to Truscott, Corunna Downs and Learmonth (POTSHOT or Exmouth Gulf) for bombing raids on the Netherlands East Indies (which is ironic in view of the Indonesian interest in this Airfield during 1994-5). In June 1945, 9 EFTS was dissolved and No. 86 Operational Base Unit formed.

The Airfield has two bitumen runways. Off the end of one is the remains of a 25 Sqn B-24 (A72-124, Flg Off Hannah) which crashed on takeoff early in the morning of 14 February 1945, with five of the crew being killed. Hannah was going to look for survivors of an American transport, PETER SILVESTER, which had been torpedoed west of Fremantle by a rogue U-Boat, U-862 (Korvettenkapitan H. Timm). "Clarrie" Taylor, a survivor of this tragic crash, unveiled a commemorative plaque at the 2003 Cunderdin Air Show to commemorate the incident.

 

Further reading:

Mallard, Paul (1996), "No.25 City of Perth Squadron - an account of the Squadron's activities whilst operating B-24 Liberator aircraft from Western Area during 1945-46", The Author, Cremorne, NSW. {Note: this book was printed in very limited numbers]

Stevens, David (1997), "U-boat far from home: the epic voyage of U862 to Australia and New Zealand", Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.

 


 

Subject:    INQUIRIES
Date:             Tue, 10 Oct 2000 22:25:49 +0900
From:           "L. Peet" <ppeetlj@ic-net.com.au>
To:                "Mrs June Howlett" <howlett@wn.com.au>
CC:               "Peter Dunn" <pdunn@st.net.au>

Hello

I am responding to your email of 10 October 2000 to Peter Dunn.

NUNGARIN
Several years ago I prepared a history of No. 5 Base Ordnance Depot (Australian Army) for a conservation plan of the one remaining timber building from World War II. I do not have details of individual AWAS although I was aware of their presence there. The large timber building is now the Army and Machinery Heritage Museum, an important tourist attraction in the town.

CUNDERDIN AIRFIELD
I have had carriage of this matter for the past five years. There are eleven wartime timber frame buildings close to a wartime Bellman hangar. The survival of such a group in such numbers appears to be unequalled within Australia. Without really thinking, the then Shire CEO wanted some of them demolished by March 1996. I have prepared a history of the base as part of a recent conservation plan for the most endangered wartime building, the former Motor Transport Garage and Office (now the Gliding Club of WA's No. 2 Workshop). Again, I do not have details of personnel who served there.

I hope this is of some help.

LINDSAY PEET

 

Military Units based in Cunderdin during WW2

 

MILITARY AIRCRAFT CRASHES AT CUNDERDIN DURING WW2

Mar/Apr 42 USAAF B-24 Liberator ?
14 Feb 45 RAAF B-24L Liberator A72-124
6 Mar 45 RAAF B-24L Liberator A72-134
31 Jul 45 RAAF B-24M Liberator A72-178

 

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Cunderdin, WA

 

 

 

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This page first produced 1 October 2000

This page last updated 04 May 2013