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The 36th Fighter Squadron of the 8th Fighter Group, USAAC arrived in Brisbane on 6 March 1942 with the rest of the 8th Fighter Group. They had sailed to Australia on an old cattle boat called "Maui", leaving in about late January 1942.

The 8th Fighter Group were equipped with P-39's assembled at Eagle Farm airport. These P-39's assembled at Eagle Farm were originally intended to go to the Philippines but the convoy was diverted to Brisbane. The 35th Fighter Group had earlier been equipped with P-39's assembled at Eagle Farm.

They moved to Lowood airfield on 13 March 1942. They relocated to Antill Plains airfield near Townsville on 4 April 1942 where there were 2 landing strips.

They moved to Port Moresby, arriving on 26 April 1942 (another source gives the date as 30 Apr 42). They later returned to Townsville area on 30 June 1942 for various rest and re-equipment tasks. 

The History of the 36th Fighter Squadron shows that ground elements of the 36th Fighter Squadron arrived back in Townsville on the ship Tasman on 30 June 1942. They boarded a train and were taken to Antil Plains airfield. They boarded trucks and were taken to the camp formerly occupied by the 40th Squadron. They were met by the pilots and the men who had returned from Port Moresby by air transport and the men who had been on duty at Horn Island since 1 April 1942. The 36th then moved to Ross River airfield, arriving there on 2 August 1942 where they used the new runway that was nearing completion on the edge of Townsville..

They moved to Milne Bay in New Guinea on 18 September 1942.

Then on 22 February 1943 they moved to Mareeba airfield in north Queensland and moved to Port Moresby in New Guinea on 22 May 1943.

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Officers of the 36th Fighter Squadron


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Armament Department, 36th Fighter Squadron
John R. Watts is 2nd from left in front row

While at Gurney Field, at Milne Bay Kenneth Meriam of the 49th Service Squadron took the photo in Feb 43 of a memorial to Tojo, the Mascot for the 36th Fighter Squadron. The memorial signs reads:- "Here Lies Tojo April 20 - Oct 3 1942 AD / Killed in Action." Across the top of the grave, and in front of the vertical post the sign is on, appears to be five cartridge cases pushed open end down into the dirt. Apparently the dog was killed by strafing.

Photo:- Kenneth Meriam via Jeffery Meriam

Grave of Tojo, the 36th Fighter Squadron mascot
which was killed at Gurney Field on 3 October 19 42.


Photo:- Kenneth Meriam via Jeffery Meriam

Grave of Tojo, the 36th Fighter Squadron mascot
which was killed at Gurney Field 3 October 19 42.


10 September 1942 - Crash of a Tiger Moth
in Halifax Bay near Townsville killing Captain James Bevlock


26 September 1942 - Crash of a P-39 Airacobra
between Townsville and Mareeba, Captain Paul G. Brown killed


E-mails from Craig Grude



I'd like to thank Bruce Graham for his assistance with this home page. 

I'd like to thank James R. Watts, Lt Col, USAF, for sending the above two photographs. His late father, Lt Col John R. Watts, was an armament officer in the 36th Fighter Squadron.


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This page first produced 5 July 1998

This page last updated 01 January 2005