CRESSY AIRFIELD, VICTORIA
DURING WW2

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Cressy was a standard three sealed runway airfield located 22 miles north of Colac and south west of Ballarat in Victoria. It became operational in July 1939 when the Armament Training Squadron moved there. Later in 1942 the General Reconnaissance School from Point Cook moved to Cressy Airfield.


Photo:- via Mike Forsberg

Cressy Airfield

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

The main reason for establishing a major training base so close to Melbourne was that both Laverton and Point Cook were fully occupied with the assembly of aircraft. The more important of the units was the GRS as this unit was tasked with producing what was then the mustering of Observer, which was a master Navigator and normally posted to Maritime patrol duties. After about 1942 they were posted to flying boats. Dennis Whiley said that on ANZAC day you can see a number of these fellows proudly wearing their half wing with a large O.

Dennis Whiley visited the remains of Cressy airfield in 1999 and he advised me that there is not much left of the former WW2 airfield. Dennis said that you can still see where the runway once was and you can make out the remains of the camp site. There were still a lot of foundations there, and some of the camp roads were also still visible.

One of Dennis Whiley's relations, Flight Lieutenant Ron Cox, AFC, was the first Commanding Officer of the base. He went on to become Wing Commander Ron Cox, AFC.

UNITS BASED AT CRESSY AIRFIELD

UNIT FROM TO NOTES
51 SQN (GR) (R) 1942 1943 They flew Avro Anson Mk.1 aircraft and the unit code was BS. (GR) (R) stands for General Reconnaissance Reserve. The school had on strength a number of aircraft that were capable of being used on operations as opposed to training types. The aircrew were instructors although I have heard of trainees at the end of their course flying with the reserve squadrons.
1 Armament Training School (1 ATS) 31.07.39 20.04.42  
22 SQN (G.P) 02.10.40 02.11.40  
GRS 27.04.42 22.04.43  
Central Gunnery School (CGS) 28.06.43 31.12.45 Renamed Care & Maintenance Unit (C & MU) on 1 January 1946 which was disbanded on 17 July 1946.

Ronald Letch was based at Cressy for about 3 months in 1945 when it was Central Gunnery School. Ron and a few others were aircrew trainees, but at that stage training had been suspended and they we were helping maintenance crews on the tarmac, cleaning Spitfires, Beauforts and Oxfords, doing guard duty etc. Ron Letch revisited the base in about 2003 and was put in contact with Bernie Mathews, who owns the Little Hard Hills Hotel on the Cressy-Ballarat road. Bernie apparently maintains a museum of photos and other memorabilia in one of the bars.

When Ron Letch was posted out from Cressy, the townspeople held a barbecue for them, to repay them for helping them load rail trucks. They went to the trouble of slaughtering a calf for the occasion, and the publican provided free kegs of beer, and dancing and general carousing ensued. Ron told me that he felt a bit overwhelmed by their generosity at the time, so when he returned after his 2003 visit to the airfield, he sent a painting he had done of the occasion as he recalled it, and Bernie Mathews gave it to the Cressy Historical Association.

Ron Letch's painting of the barbeque sendoff by the townspeople of Cressy

Ron Letch remembers a pilot called Robert (Bob) Honan who was based at Cressy. He flew Ansons on patrol south of Victoria and with his crew picked up a Catalina from North Island, a U.S. Navy base and flew it on a delivery flight to Rathmines, N.S.W. Bob Honan published his book "That's That" in 1989.


Photo:- via Ron Letch

Cressy Airfield 1944 looking east

Legend for the above photograph

1. Taxiway to runway 32 2. Storage & maintenance huts 3. Control Tower 4. Hangar No. 2
5. Debrief room 6. Beacon 7. Cricket Pitch 8. Instrument makers & Elect w/shop
9. Tied down Beauforts 10. Runway 01 11. Maintenance sheds 12. Mounds for aligning guns
13. Armourers shop 14. Lecture room 15. Parachute drying shed 16. Parachute Section 1 & 2
17. No. 1 Armourers shed 18. Toliet 19. Taxiway 20. Runup asphalt
21 Taxiway 22. Turret Instruction Room 23. Hangar No. 1 24. Mobile homes
25. Officer's Quarters 26. Maintenance Shed 27. Officer's Ablution Blocks 28. Officer's Mess
29. Canteen and Hall 30. Toilet Block 31. Airmen's Quarters 32. Airmen's Mess
33. Parade Ground 34. Operations Room 35. Orderly Room 36. Kitchens
37. Recreation Room 38. Sergeant's Mess 39. Ariels???? 40. Signals Room
41. Sergeant's Ablution Block 42. WAAAF's Ablution Block 43. Sergeant's Quarters 44. Maintenance Garage
45. Sewer Pumphouse 46. WAAAF's Quarters 47. Hospital Section 48. Transport
49. Pump House 50. Boiler House 51. Underground Tank 52. Guard House
53. Entrance 54. Magazine Huts    

Ron said that one of the runways ran parallel to the railway line. He said there were several ammo/bomb shelters, made of brick with asbestos roofs and surrounded by high earth mounds in the general area beyond the sleeping huts. They guarded them as part of their job, but the only danger was from the Orderly Officer, one of whom sneaked up on a guard at night hoping to catch him sleeping. The guy heard him, and clobbered him with his rifle butt, fortunately not too hard. The charge against the guard was subsequently dismissed.

Dennis Whiley told me that they still have one or two left in their RAAF Association branch and they love to listen to their stories. Dennis has also managed to obtain some of their old manuals. One of the manuals he has was given to a late friend of Dennis's called Ron Honan, who was an observer who trained at Cressy Airfield. The book had been given to Ron Honan to fly the Pacific Ocean. It is a US Navy Publication and that was all they had to navigate from the United States to Australia when delivering the Catalina flying boats. Later in the war after the GRS moved to Bairnsdale Ron Honan was an instructor there.


Photo:- via Mike Forsberg

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 


Photo:- Mike Forsberg 10 Feb 2008

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Dennis Whiley, Ronald Letch and Mike Forsberg for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with some more information on Cressy Airfield?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 15 November 2000

This page last updated 22 February 2008