TOOGOOLAWAH AIRFIELD
DURING WW2

NOW CALLED WATTS BRIDGE AIRFIELD

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visits since 2 October 2000

 

The site for Toogoolwah airfield was inspected on 18 May 1942 when Colin Munro of 5 Squadron RAAF based at Toowoomba, made a recce flight over the area. Two days later Munro returned with the Commanding Officer of 5 Squadron, Wing Commander A.D. Charlton and landed his aircraft at the proposed site. On 15 June 1942, Mr Calder and Mr Lowe from the Queensland Main Roads Commission and Mr. Hill of Esk Shire council and Mr. Wyeth of Home Security, along with Lt. Chester of the 1st Australian Army inspected the area and selected an alternative nearby site for the new airfield. Within a month, the Queensland Main Roads Commission had started to establish Toogoolawah airfield.

Up to 92 employees of the Queensland Main Roads Commission were involved in building gravelled runways at Toogoolawah airfield in 1943 at an approximate cost of 25,866. There were two runways, one of 5,000 feet and another 3,600 feet long.

The runways were drained by about 2,000 feet of longitudinal and transverse collection drain pipes. Not long after the runways were gravelled, a large US B-24 Liberator bomber made an emergency landing at Toogoolawah after running out of fuel in bad weather. The well drained runways were more than adequate  for the large American aircraft.

It is believed there was only one permanent building at Toogoolawah airfield during WW2 which was a combined ablutions and lunch room building. In a paddock near the crossroad just before the airfield you can see the concrete floor of a building which was about 30 metres by 10 metres. This was most likely the location of this building.

Toogoolwah airfield is now known as Watts Bridge airfield. To find Watts Bridge airfield, travel through Ipswich and trun right into on to the Brisbane Valley Highway through Fernvale, then Esk and then turn right into Mount Beppo Road (not Old Mount Beppo Rd) just near Toogoolawah. The airfield is on the left about 8kms from the turnoff.

After the war, the main runway was cut by a newly sealed public road called Silverleaves Road. 2/5th of the old main runway was on one side of the road with the remainder on the other side of the road. About 1/4 of the cross runway was also cut and made un-useable.

The airfield and surrounding land was resumed by the Water Board with the coming of the Wivenhoe Dam project. A sports and vintage aviation group requested that the airfield be included as an Air Park Reserve under the Lake Wivenhoe Recreational Area Concept Plan. As part of this approval, Silverleaves Road was closed and the airfield was returned to its full size.

 

17 September 1943 - Crash of a De Havilland Dragon
at Toogoolawah airfield

 

LINKS TO OTHER SITES ON THE INTERNET

Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"The History of the Queensland Main Roads Commission"
"during World War II, 1939 - 1945"

"Queensland Airfields WW2 - 50 Years On"
By Roger R. Marks

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

I'd like to thank Ross Stenhouse of Brisbane for his assistance with this home page.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 2 October 2000

This page last updated 13 July 2008