McDONALD AIRFIELD, NT
ALSO KNOWN AS BURKHOLDER FIELD
DURING WW2

 

Fighter Guide Map - spelt McDonald on this American map

 

 

Plan of McDonald Airfield, incorrectly
spelt as MacDonald Airfield on this plan

 

Burkholder Field (sometimes referred to as Burkeholder), later known as McDonald Airfield (sometimes incorrectly referred to as MacDonald), was located 10 miles north west of Pine Creek in the Northern Territory. The airfield was built by Company "A" and HQ Detachment of the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion from 11 May to 16 July 1942 with assistance from the Australian Allied Works Council.

They built 6, 000 ft of runway, 100 ft wide with 50 ft shoulders paved with 4 inches of gravel. They also built 5,000 ft of taxiways 40 ft wide with 15 ft shoulders paved with 3 inches of gravel and 18 dispersals without revetments. Company A also built Camp buildings.

McDonald Airfield was named after Wing Commander Joshua Roger Gray McDonald (86), the Commanding Officer of 13 Squadron RAAF, who was killed along with three other crew members in the crash of Lockheed Hudson A16-69 into the sea off Ambon, Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) on 10 December 1941.

McDonald Airfield was first occupied by No. 54 Operation Base Unit RAAF (54 OBU) and No. 1 Airfield Construction Squadron which completed construction of the airfield in early 1943.

The B-25 Mitchells of 18th Squadron NEI-AF arrived at McDonald Airfield on 18 January 1943. They immediately began operations over the Netherlands East Indies the following day with an armed reconnaissance mission over the Kai Islands. The Squadron flew approximately 60 missions over the Netherlands East Indies. They would refuel and arm their aircraft during a stopover at the RAAF Darwin Airfield. The Squadron moved to Batchelor Airfield on 8 May 1943.

Edmond (Ted) Brault served in the 18th Squadron NEI-AF. He initially served at McDonald airfield in Western Australia. He was then posted to Oakey airfield in 1944 and served as a security guard using guard dogs.

Spitfire A58-174 of 54 Squadron RAF made a forced landing at McDonald Airfield on 10 March 1944.

McDonald Airfield was later used during WWII as a communications location by the Australian Army.

 


Photo:- Doug Tilley

McDonald Airfield

 


Photo:- Doug Tilley

McDonald Airfield and the old Highway

 


Photo:- Doug Tilley

Concrete slab at McDonald Airfield

 

macdonald01.jpg (237019 bytes)
Photo:- from Ted Brault

Dutch Commander presenting
WW2 medals to a Dutch Crew

 

macdonald02.jpg (227464 bytes)
Photo:- from Ted Brault

B-25 Mitchell at McDonald airfield

 

macdonald03.jpg (131529 bytes)
Photo:- from Ted Brault

B-25 Mitchell at McDonald airfield

 

macdonald04.jpg (257345 bytes)
Photo:- from Ted Brault

Maintenance work at McDonald airfield

 

macdonald05.jpg (274781 bytes)
Photo:- from Ted Brault

Dutch personnel at McDonald airfield

 

macdonald06.jpg (252611 bytes)
Photo:- from Ted Brault

McDonald airfield

 

macdonald08.jpg (61561 bytes)
Photo:- from Ted Brault

Sworn in at McDonald, WA

 

macdonald07.jpg (201619 bytes)
Photo:- from Ted Brault

A Crash at Exmouth

 

McDonald Airfield 13.46's 131.43'e RAAF was abandoned in 1945.

 

REFERENCES

Trails of History, World War II Historic Sites - Collectors Edition, Conservation Commission Northern Territory

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Dennis Whiley, Justin Taylan and Doug Tilley for their assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank Melvin Haba for his assistance with this home page. Melvin's father was Technician 5 Grade (Corporal) Laudie R Haba of Company "B" of the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion. He would have been running the Dozers and Carry-alls during construction activities. Laudie Haba returned to the States in December 1944. Laudie passed away in 1971. 

I'd also like to thank Randell Summerville and his cousin Rod Brault (son of Ted Brault) for their assistance with this home page.

 

E-mails from Dennis Whiley

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 8 October 2000

This page last updated 17 October 2016