US NAVY SUBMARINE BASE,
EXMOUTH GULF, WA
DURING WW2

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visits since 3 July 2001

 

In late 1942, the US Navy had asked the Australian Government to build an airfield near a future Submarine base at Exmouth Gulf. The site for the airfield was selected at Yanrey and the War Cabinet approved its construction. Until the airfield was constructed, 76 Squadron RAAF moved to nearby Onslow in February 1943 and then to Potshot in March 1943. 76 Squadron was ordered back to Bankstown in April 1943.

The Submarine Tender, USS Pelius, spent some time at Exmouth Gulf tending submarines that used Exmouth Gulf as a temporary base.

Noel Desmond Gray served for a time at the US Navy Submarine Base at Exmouth Gulf in West Australia. The area was known as "Pot-shot" and was protected by British GLll radar equipped Australian 3 inch and 3.7 inch anti-aircraft batteries as well as a strong contingent of US ancillary personnel equipped with land based Bofors guns. Apart from an extended fighter strip at Yanrey, there were two Australian fighter squadrons, several squadrons of US Catalina flying boats, a US naval force of small fighting ships and the USS PELIUS. The base was set up to protect this valuable military asset.

Noel Gray was the senior radar armament artificer in Exmouth, a member of AEME attached to 3 Aust. Corps within 2nd Aust, Radar Detachment, RAA. He was responsible for installing, calibrating, and maintaining all army radar equipment in the area. 

They were bombed by Japanese "Betties" on several occasions. On one occasion a stick of twelve Japanese bombs fell 50 yards (the furthest) East of their Radar campsite in a line making 30 degrees with the centreline of their camp. Noel Gray was buried on one occasion when his slit-trench wall collapsed. He was rescued by his mates a short time later. When regaining consciousness and after downing a fifth of Scotch the matter was treated as a joke and he did not seem to sustain any permanent injury. The matter was never reported medically on his request as no one else was hurt.

After two Japanese raids on Exmouth Gulf on 20 and 21 May 1943, the US Navy decided to abandon their Submarine Base at Exmouth Gulf and move down to Fremantle. The base was also open to damage from the cyclones that hit the coast at that time of the year. The RAAF maintained their airfields at Learmonth and Yanrey after the US Navy left the area.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Christopher Gray for his assistance with this home page.

 

BOOK REFERENCES

"Air War Against Japan 1943 - 1945"
by George Odgers

 

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 Peter Dunn 2004

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This page first produced 3 July 2001

This page last updated 14 April 2004