NO. 1 CENTRAL RESERVE RAAF
MARRANGAROO, NSW
DURING WWII

 

The Unit known as No 1 Central Reserve RAAF was formed on 1 April 1942 at Marrangaroo, located approximately half way between Wallerawang and Lithgow near the Great Western Highway in New South Wales. The depot was located on the eastern side of the highway at the end of Reserve Road. The site was shared with the Australian Army's No. 6 Advanced Ammunition Depot. The RAAF's explosive storage area was south of the camp and the Army's was north east of the RAAF area.

The administrative and barracks areas of the camp were camouflaged to resemble a small town complete with a simulated butcher's shop and another building with two dummy petrol bowsers in front to make it look like a garage. Barracks were built as "L" shaped buildings to look more like houses than typical long rectangular military barracks. The military personnel based there referred to the site as "Hoaxsville".

Initially two different sites was examined for the depot site. Approval was given to acquire the site from local grazier George Evans near Marrangaroo on 24 October 1941. Local internees were apparently used to construct the depot. An advance party consisting of Squadron Leader George S. Anderson and six airmen reported to 2SD Waterloo on 19 March 1942 and departed for Marrangaroo on 20 March 1942. Another 22 airmen led by Pilot Officer Joseph F. Pugh also arrived at Marrangaroo on 20 March 1942.

Squadron Leader George S. Anderson became the first Commanding Officer for No. 1 Central Reserve RAAF. The Army provided guards for the site which comprised a Sergeant, a Corporal, and 12 other ranks. They arrived from the 31st Garrison Battalion in Sydney on 27 April 1942.

No. 1 Central Reserve functioned as a Central Explosive Reserve and an Explosives Replenishing Centre for NSW units in lieu of using stocks from 2AD. All "J" group stocks were transferred from Moorebank and Richmond to establish No. 1 Central Reserve's first stocks. The transfer of all stocks from 2AD was completed on 13 April 1942. A railway spur line was built into the site later on.

No. 1 Central Reserve had the following two Sub Depots:-

The motto on the RAAF Unit badge for No. 1 Central Reserve was "Power for Action" and it showed an arm holding an anti-personnel bomb in the air.

The RAAF stored chemical weapons in the event that the Japanese started to use chemical weapons during WWII. Liquid mustard gas was stored at Marrangaroo in abandoned rail tunnels.

The first train load of 250-pound L.C. bombs Mk II filled with phosgene gas arrived at 1030 hours on 22 January 1943 and work began immediately to unload and store them in the cutting at the northern end of the Marrangaroo tunnel. Leakages occurred because the open sided storage sheds had not been provided as planned. The lack of shade allowed the full sun onto the bombs that increased the internal pressure causing them to vent. All told 3,183 filled bombs were delivered to the Marrangaroo tunnel.

First stocks for the new № 5 Replenishing Centre in the Northern Territory were moved from Marrangaroo by train on 25 March 1944.

Many years after WWII it was discovered that mustard gas shells and phosgene gas cylinders had been buried at No 1 Central Reserve Marrangaroo. Expensive disposal and decontamination works were carried out.

 

REFERENCES

Marrangaroo, Murder and Munitions - Final, by John Scott
Loops and Landing, supplement to Southern Skies August 2016, No. 508, AHSA

No. 1 Central Reserve
by Murray Moore 20 April 2003

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Geoff Plunkett for his assistance with this web page.

 

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 30 July 2016

This page last updated 31 July 2016