43RD SERVICE SQUADRON
FORMERLY KNOWN AS
THE 43RD MATERIEL SQUADRON
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

The 43rd Service Squadron, previously known as the 43rd Materiel Squadron, or 43rd Air Materiel Squadron (43 AMS) spent time at Amberley, Mt. Louisa near Garbutt airfield in Townsville, Adelaide River and then at Fenton airfield in the Northern Territory. 

In January 1942, 1st Lieutenant Burke Von Wald  was assigned to the 43rd Material Squadron and travelled to Australia on board the Mariposa, arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, where he moved to Bacchus Marsh for a short period of time before catching a train to Sydney in New South Wales, where the 43rd Materiel Squadron moved to Bankstown airfield.

Burke then travelled to Darwin in the Northern Territory by Catalina flying boat and then moved down to Adelaide River. An APO list that I have shows 43rd Materiel Squadron, 46th AB Gp located at Adelaide River in June 1942.

The 43rd Air Materiel Squadron was allocated a site across the other side of the Adelaide River about 6 kilometres from the airfield that the 8th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group was based. After they realised this site was unsuitable they relocated on 16 April 1942 to a site on Mt Bundy Station, about 2 kilometres north of the airfield. They built specialist workshops, offices, living quarters and messes. They installed their own water reticulation system. Nearby Base Section One at Adelaide River provided their food, provisions and clothing issues.

The 43rd Air Material Squadron salvaged the remnants of the 33rd Pursuit's Squadron's aircraft damaged in the 19 February 1942 Japanese air raid. They also recovered Lt Suehr's aircraft from Marrakai. Only four of the wrecks that they worked on were made airworthy again. Their main role was to maintain and repair the P-40E aircraft of the 49th Fighter Group.

The 43rd Air Materiel Squadron salvaged the wreckage of #41-24816 near Strauss (Lt Ed Miller killed), #41-5557 near Brocks Creek (Lt William Payne killed) and  #41-5621 near Brocks reek (Lt Donald Dittler bailed out). They salvaged almost fifty P-40E's in the area along with some other aircraft types.

Burke Von Wald eventually relocated the 43rd Service Squadron to Fenton airfield in early 1943 after it had been constructed by the Australians. Burke was the Commanding Officer of the first advance party that was responsible for the establishment of Fenton airfield. After the arrival of the CO, Burke became the Adjutant. Burke stayed at Fenton airfield for about 2 years until September 1943. He spent a short period of time at Port Moresby in New Guinea during his time at Fenton. Then in October 1943 Major Burke Von Wald was re-assigned as the Photographic Officer in Headquarters Squadron of the 81st Air Depot Group, in Brisbane, Queensland. In January 1944.

Eugene M. Halaas from Los Angeles, California, who was in the photographic section of the 43rd Service Squadron, took a lot of film footage, including colour footage, at these locations during WW2.

On the 10 December 1943, the 1535th Ordnance S&M Company (Aviation) was relieved from being attached to the 43rd Service Squadron and was attached to the 22nd Service Group. Seven men went on detached service to Melbourne, Victoria for purpose of driving back new trucks. On the 10 January 1944, the 1535th was relieved from attachment to the 22nd Service Group and attached to the 43rd Service Squadron due to the disbandment of the 22nd Service Group. 4 men were transferred  into the 1535th from Hq & Hq Squadron, of the 22nd Service Group.

 

Click here to view a clip of some of this footage at Mt. Louisa
WARNING - This file is 2.3 Mbytes

 

The USAAF's 5th Air Force was based at the foot of Mt. Louisa during WW2. The 4th Air Depot along with the 12th and 15th Air Depots were based at the base of Mt. Louisa.

 

lou19.jpg (12754 bytes)

This is Eugene M. Halaas who took the film

 

More photos of Eugene M. Halaas

These photos are frame grabs from the film

lou15.jpg (12591 bytes) lou16.jpg (12305 bytes)
lou17.jpg (12289 bytes) lou18.jpg (12265 bytes)

 

Can anyone tell me which Unit the 43rd Service Squadron was attached to?

 

Subject:    Eugene Halaas
Date:           Thu, 18 May 2000 13:47:21 +1000
From:          Gary J Asmussen <garya@cheque.uq.edu.au>

Hi,

Gary Asmussen here. I found a Eugene Halaas in Douglas County USA.

Apparently, this guy is a judge now.

Good luck and great and interesting site.

Gary

 


Subject:   43rd Service Squadron
Date:            Thu, 13 Apr 2000 20:44:33 -0700
From:          "Jean C." <jeanchurchill@msn.com>

Hello

My husband is a member of the 43rd Service Squadron. He was in Australia from March 1942 to April 1945. The men have a reunion every year. The next reunion will be Sept 29-30, Oct. 1 in Teague, Texas.

They publish a newsletter about four times a year in which a great deal of the history of the group has been written.

The group's historian is John W. Swinburn at 905 S. 9th Ave, Teague, Texas 75860, Phone 254 739 2546.

Fred Kobe was in charge of the mechanics on the "Shady Lady" mission. He has written an account of the mission. He is at 3418 Rucker Road, Lompoc, California 93436.

My email is jeanchurchill@msn.com. Let me know if I can be of any further help.

Jean Churchill

 


 

Subject:   43rd Service Squadron
From:          Jean Churchill
To:              Pyrotech@ultra.net.au

Sent:          Thursday, April 20, 2000 4:00 AM

Hello:

I guess I am talking to Daniel this time.

The photographer's name is Eugene M. Halaas. He is listed as being from Los Angeles, California. He is not on the current roster of men that have been located.

There is quite a bit of material regarding the 43rd Service Squadron. There was an article in the June 1943 issue of Readers Digest called "The Workshop in the Bush". I can send you a copy if you can't get one.

A gentleman in Australia wrote about them in a book. He sent tapes for them to tell their stories.

I will have to get the name and the name of the book and send it to you.

Looking forward to hearing from you (Perhaps Eugene Halaas can be located on the internet. I have to find out how to go about it. I have only had this computer since Christmas and I am still learning).

Jean

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Lt. Col. Burke Von Wald and his wife Sue for his assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank Daniel Hultgren for providing me with a copy of the film taken by Eugene M. Halaas.

I'd also like to thank David Halaas, grandson of Eugene Halaas.

 

REFERENCES

"Darwin's Air War 1942 - 1945"
By Bob Alford

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 21 April 2000

This page last updated 14 January 2017