HERON HAVEN US NAVY FLYING BOAT BASE
ADVANCE BASE "E"
IN NORTH WEST WESTERN AUSTRALIA
DURING WWII

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Heron Haven or Advance Base "E" for "Easy" was the name given to a US Navy Flying Boat base established in the north west of Western Australia during WWII. "Heron Haven" was the code name for a mother ship which was usually located in the lee side of a chain of islands. It is believed that it was located near West Lewis Island possibly on the western side between this island and Enderby Island.

The small seaplane tender USS Childs and later the USS William B. Preston provided services and accommodation for flight crews passing through the base. The operating area was large and unobstructed but was poorly sheltered and apt to be quite rough for landings and take-offs. Recreational activities were limited to swimming and throwing rocks at wallabies.

The following were the US Navy Flying Boat bases in Western Australia during WWII. There was no Advance Base "C":-

Advance Base "A" (Able), Pelican Point, Perth
Advance Base "B" (Baker), Geraldton
Advance Base "D" (Dog), Bay of Rest, Exmouth Gulf
Advance Base "E" (Easy), Heron Haven

There are a number of War Diary entries on the Fold3 web site from about May 1943 until July 1944. I have only used information below from the January and February 1944 War Diaries to give a feel for the type of operations that occurred at Heron Haven.

The January 1944 War Diary for USS Childs, attached to Fleet Air Wing Ten, Task Force Seventy-One, US Naval Forces, Western Australia shows that the ship was anchored in Heron Haven in 5.5 fathoms of water and 45 fathoms of chain to starboard anchor on the following bearings:-

Bluff Point 261 T
Right tangent, Enderby Island, 023

USS Childs was tending two PBYs of Patrol Squadron 33 (VP-33) and three flight crews, flying daily reconnaissance flights covering a triangular sector from Heron Haven to 118 20'E, 16 10'S to 110 50'E, 16 10'S to Heron Haven.

At 0742 hours on 7 January 1944, USS Childs was underway from Heron Haven to Onslow to take on fuel and aviation gasoline. The two PBYs were sent to Exmouth Gulf. USS Childs anchored at Onslow at 1617 hours on 7 January 1944. At 0919 hours on 8 January 1944, USS Childs refuelled and took on aviation gasoline. At 1445 hours on 8 January USS Childs finished taking on fuel and anchored off Onslow. USS Childs was underway to Heron Haven at 0555 hours on 9 January 1944 and anchored at Heron Haven at 1306 hours on the same day at the following bearings:-

Right Tangent West Lewis Island 304 30' T
Bluff Point 116 30' T

From there USS Childs tended two PBY-5s from Patrol Squadron 33 (VP-33) which flew daily reconnaissance patrols. At 1705 hours on 9 January 1944, six PBYs of Patrol Squadron 33 (VP-33) arrived from Perth to carry out a bombing mission against the Japanese on the Island of Ambon. At 0503 hours on 10 January 1944, six PBYs of VP-33 departed on their bombing mission to Ambon.

From 11th to 12th January 1944, USS Childs was tending three PBY-5s of VP-33. One PBY-5 provided daylight coverage for S.S. Koolinda which was enroute from Exmouth Gulf to Broome. At 1259 hours on 13 January 1944, five PBY-5s returned from their bombing mission, refuelled and continued on to Perth.

On 14 January 1944, one PBY-5 provided daylight coverage for S.S. Koolinda which was enroute from Exmouth Gulf to Broome. At 1355 hours on 14 January 1944, one PBY-5 returned from its bombing mission, refuelled and continued on to Perth.

From 15th to 18th January 1944, one PBY-5 continued to provide daylight coverage for S.S. Koolinda.

At 0705 hours on 19 January 1944, USS Childs was underway from Heron Haven to Onslow to take on fuel and aviation gasoline. The three PBY-5s were sent to Exmouth Gulf. During the morning of 19 January 1944 USS Childs expended 31 rounds of 3"/50 blind loaded ammunition from 3"/50 cal. Battery on a floating target for training purposes. USS Childs anchored off Onslow at 1543 hours on 19 January 1944 and came alongside Beadon Jetty at 0930 hours on 20 January 1944 to refuel and take on aviation gasoline. USS Childs then anchored off Onslow at 1448 hours on 20 January 1944.

At 1629 hours on 21 January 1944, USS Childs was underway and anchored at Heron Haven at 1310 hours that same day in 7 fathoms of water with 45 fathoms of chain to the starboard anchor at the following bearings:-

Bluff Point 266 T
Right Tangent Enderby Island 028 30'T

USS Childs tended two PBY-5s of VP-33 flying daily reconnaissance flights from this position. On 25 January 1944, two PBY-5s of VP-101 and three crews arrived to relieve VP-33 aircraft which returned to Perth.

At 0548 hours on 29 January 1944, the PBY-5s were sent to Perth due to bad weather conditions and USS Childs was under way to Exmouth Gulf where it anchored at 1630 hours. At 0532 hours on 31 January 1944, USS Childs was underway to Heron Haven where it anchored at 1517 hours in 7 fathoms of water with 45 fathoms of chain to the starboard anchor at the following bearings:-

Bluff Point 258 30' T
Childs Point 344 30' T
Right tangent Enderby Island 026 T

From this position USS Childs tended two PBY-5s of VP-101 which made daily reconnaissance patrols.

The February 1944 War Diary for USS Childs, attached to Fleet Air Wing Ten, Task Force Seventy-One, US Naval Forces, Western Australia shows that the ship was anchored at Heron Haven Flying Boat Base tending in 7 fathoms of water with 45 fathoms of chain to the starboard anchor on the following bearings:-

Bluff Point 258 30'T
Childs Point 344 30'T
Right tangent, Enderby Island, 026

USS Childs was tending two PBYs of Patrol Squadron 101 (VP-101) and three flight crews, flying daily reconnaissance flights covering a triangular sector from Heron Haven to 118 20'E, 16 10'S to 110 50'E, 16 10'S to Heron Haven.

At 0700 hours on 9 February 1944, USS Childs was underway to Onslow to take on fuel and aviation gasoline. The two PBYs were sent to Exmouth Gulf. USS Childs anchored in Beadon Bay, Onslow at 1340 hours on 9 February 1944. USS Childs pulled alongside Beadon Jetty, Onslow at 0533 hours on 10 February 1944 and refuelled and took on aviation gasoline. USS Childs was underway to Heron Haven at 1026 hours on 10 February 1944 and anchored in Heron Haven at 1716 hours. The two PBYs returned from Exmouth Gulf.

On 16 February 1944, USS William B. Preston (AVD-7) entered Heron Haven and departed on 17 February 1944 after taking on 9,380 gallons of fuel from USS Childs.

Two PBYs of Patrol Squadron 11 (VP-11) arrived at Heron Haven in the week 21 to 28 February 1944 to relieve VP-101 aircraft which departed for Perth. There were no sightings during the daily recce flights during February 1944.

USS William B. Preston entered Heron Haven at 1320 hours on 29 February 1944 and relieved USS Childs of its duty as an Advanced Base Tender. USS Childs was underway at 1431 hours on 29 February to Exmouth Gulf, WA.  It would appear that USS Childs returned at a later date to resume duty as the Advanced Base Tender and was replaced by USS William B. Preston again on 4 July 1944 and USS Childs steamed to Fremantle on 5 July 1944.

Patrol Squadron 101 (VP-101), Patrol Squadron 33 (VP-33) and Patrol Squadron 11 (VP-11) often operated from or through Heron Haven Flying Boat Base.

 

NOTE:- It is possible that Heron Haven and Townsend Haven were the same place.

 

Wreckage of a Catalina found near
Enderby Island, WA in October 1949

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Crashed Catalina Mystery Deepens", The Daily News (Perth), 18 October 1949

 

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This page first produced 8 November 2017

This page last updated 09 November 2017