FENTON AIRFIELD, NT
DURING WW2

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visits since 26 July 2001

 

Fighter Guide Map

Fenton Field, 15 miles west of Brock's Creek in the Northern Territory, was built by Company C and HQ Detachment of the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion from 27 April to 16 July 1942. Fenton airfield may have also been referred to as Brock's Creek airfield in its early development. The 808th built 6, 000 ft of runway 100 ft wide, paved with 4 inches of clay gravel. They also built 7,600 ft of taxiways, 50 ft wide with 15 ft shoulders paved with 3 inches of gravel and 28 dispersals without revetments.

In about mid 1942, 1st Lieutenant Manuel Burke Von Wald of the 43rd Materiel Squadron moved to Fenton airfield after it had been constructed by the Australians. He 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 at Fenton. Burke stayed at Fenton airfield for about 2 years until September 1943. 

The first of thirty eight B-24 Liberators of the 380th Bombardment Group left Topeka, Kansas for Australia on 15 April 1943. They arrived at Amberley airfield west of Brisbane between 22 and 30 April 1943.

Lt. Col. Miller reported to General George C. Kenney at the Fifth Air Force's Headquarters in the AMP Building in Brisbane and received his orders to move the 380th Bomb Group to Fenton airfield in the Northern Territory.

Lord Gowry (Australian Governor General) with Lt. Calhoun,
and Jack Banks at during a tour of Fenton airfield in 1943

 

The 43rd Bomb Group arrived in Australia from Maine, USA in August 1942 equipped with B-17E Flying Fortresses. They spent several months at various bases, including Torrens Creek, Iron Range, Fenton and Mareeba. The 64th Squadron of the 43rd Bomb Group were based at Fenton airfield from 12 Oct 1942 - 8 Nov 1942.

On 1 December 1943 personnel from 11 Signals Unit RAAF moved to the Fenton area.

Flight Lieutenant R.H. Barnes and the first 45 personnel of 6 Repair and Salvage Unit RAAF (6 RSU) left Mt. Druitt in New South Wales to relocate to Fenton. They arrived at Fenton on 27 December 1944. The rest of the unit arrived progressively through until about 23 February 1945. 6 RSU left Fenton en route to Morotai via Darwin on 17 June 1945.

 

MILITARY AIRCRAFT CRASHES AT FENTON AIRFIELD DURING WW2

DATE LOCATION SERVICE AIRCRAFT SERIAL NO.
30 Jun 43 Fenton USAAF Liberator ?, during a Japanese bombing raid
30 Jun 43 Fenton USAAF Liberator ?, during a Japanese bombing raid
30 Jun 43 Fenton USAAF Liberator ?, during a Japanese bombing raid
abt Jul 43 near Fenton RAAF F.VC Spitfire A58-79 (BS193), lost during combat
6 Jul 43 Fenton area (off Anson Bay) RAAF F.VC Spitfire A58-61, (BR589)
6 Jul 43 Fenton area (near Anson Bay?) RAAF F.VC Spitfire A58-80 (BS197)
abt Aug 43 Fenton USAAF B-24 Liberator "Alley Oop", #41-24248
21 Sep 43 Sugar Loaf Hill, 3 miles from Fenton airfield  USAAF B-24 Liberator #42-40509 (D-65-CO), 10 killed
16 Mar 44 Fenton airfield USAAF? B-24J Liberator #42-73332
25 Mar 44 Fenton Airfield USAAF? B-24J Liberator #42-73186
25 Oct 43 Fenton airfield USAAF B-24 Liberator #42-40504, "Gus's Bus"
11 Nov 43 Fenton airfield USAAF B-24D Liberator #42-41242, 10 killed
6 Sep 44 Fenton RAAF B-24J Liberator A72-39
29 Oct 44 Fenton to Darwin area USAAF B-24 Liberator #42-11020
2 Feb 45 3kms from Fenton RAAF B-24L Liberator A72-88
22 Mar 45 Fenton RAAF B-24J Liberator A72-59

 

JAPANESE BOMBING RAIDS ON FENTON AIRFIELD

30 Jun 43 (12:30pm) Fenton airfield
6 Jul 43 (12:02pm) Fenton airfield
13 Aug 43 (9:45pm) Fenton airfield
13 Aug 43 (11:12 pm) Fenton & Coomalie Creek airfields
21 Aug 43 (03:07 am) Fenton & Coomalie Creek airfields
15 Sep 43 (00:25 am) Fenton & Long airfields
18 Sep 43 (03:50 am) Fenton & Long airfields

 


 

Dick Williams, Clovis CA (paoduce@aol.com) is trying to help to locate the family of the following American officer whose dog tags were located  in the 380th Bomb Group Headquarters area at Fenton Field, Northern Territory, Australia, by Nicholas Bracken.

Here is the info on the Dog Tag:-

Harold C. Johnson 
0-808071 T42 A 

Hanna Johnson 
3404 N Rutherford 
Chicago, Ill P 

Dick Williams found a family in Chicago on the 1920 census, with father Walter, mother, Hannah and children, including a son Harold age 13. That would make him in his mid-30's during the war, could be he is the officer in question. 

Dick Williams has some social security death index information available, showing a Walter Johnson born in 1906, died in 1997, and his wife (?) Anne C. Johnson died in either 1997 later, or in 2000. Both died in Wisconsin, supposing any of the above are the actual Harold C. Johnson. 

Dick Williams is after any clue as to his Squadron, etc. and would love to return his dog tag back to his family all these years later. 


 

Ted Williams has advised that the serial number group O-808--- belongs to a group of navigators who graduated from the USAAF Navigation School, Selman Field, Louisiana, in Class 43-10, on July 24, 1943.

The name Harold C. Johnson appears on a roster of that Navigation Class.

The 380th Bomb Group has on its Roster three navigators who were in that same class. They were:-

John M. Martin O-808098
Daniel J. McVicar O-808109
Clifford M. Odegaard O-808127

These individuals all arrived in the South West Pacific Theatre in the December 1943 - January 1944 time period.

Unfortunately, the name Harold C. Johnson does not appear on 380th Bomb Group records to Ted's knowledge. As many of you know, the 380th Bomb Group Association has developed a very complete Roster of Group personnel in WWII.

Ted believes that Navigator Johnson may have been assigned to a Troop Transport or Cargo Group flying C-47 or C-46 aircraft and visited the Fenton Area on Transient or TDY status prior to early August 1944 when the 380th moved from Fenton to Darwin in Australia. Such aircraft regularly visited the Fenton area.

The 319th Squadron of the 90th Bomb Group moved to Fenton airfield south of Darwin. Fenton was named after Clyde Fenton, the Flying Doctor pioneer.

Ted advised that it has been suggested by some that Navigator Johnson may have been part of the 319th Squadron of the 90th Bomb Group, who were at Fenton prior to the 380th. However, the 319th left Fenton for Port Moresby, New Guinea, on July 6, 1944, which was prior to the graduate date of Johnson's navigation school.

Thus we are left with the following information concerning Harold C. Johnson, O-808071:

1. He was a navigator who graduated from navigation school on July 24, 1943.

2. He served in the South West Pacific Theatre starting about January 1944.

3. If he wasn't a member of the 380th, which is very unlikely that he did, he probably served with a troop transport or cargo group whose aircraft visited the Fenton area regularly.

 

Full size versions of the above photos are available on
my "Australia @ War" CD-Rom

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bob Livingstone for his assistance with this home page.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 26 July 2001

This page last updated 25 October 2008