COOMALIE CREEK AIRFIELD
NORTHERN TERRITORY
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

Fighter Guide Map

 

Coomalie Creek airfield was a World War 2 airfield located in the Northern Territory. The North West Area Headquarters were located approximately 6 kms south along the Stuart Highway. Coomalie Creek was located only about 10 miles from Batchelor airfield.

 


Photo:- via John Gray

Coomalie Airfield 25 April 1944

 

In the first weeks in November 1942, when 31 Squadron RAAF arrived at Coomalie Creek with their Beaufighters, Coomalie Creek airfield was still very new. Workmen were still finishing off the earthworks and the few essential camp buildings. The airfield was only available for limited use and aircraft had to take care not to collide with machinery or workmen.

When 31 Squadron arrived, everyone was in tents. The only buildings were the messes, cookhouses and a storeroom. Showers and toilets were all in the open. They were soon able to get a roof for the toilets. An orderly room, sick quarters and an operations/intelligence room were then built using voluntary labour. Slit trenches were also built in case of Japanese air raids.

31 Squadron flew their first operational mission out of Coomalie Creek on 17 November when six Beaufighters made strafing attacks on Moabissi and Bobanaro on Timor.

 


Photo:- John Gray

Plaque dedicated to 31 Squadron RAAF located at Coomalie Creek Airfield

 

In late November 1944, three C-47's from 34 Squadron RAAF were detached to Coomalie airfield. 34 Squadron started to move to Morotai on 15 February 1945. They became fully operational at Morotai on 12 April 1945.

Peter R Demaine was posted to 31 Squadron at Coomalie Creek on 29 April 1944 as a Wireless/Navigator with his pilot David Doughton. The C-47's from 34 Squadron RAAF assisted in the move of 31 Squadron from Coomalie Creek to Noemfoor Island on 1 December 1944 and then to Morotai on 7 December 1944. David Doughton and Peter Demaine took part in a long sortie from Noemfoor on 6 December 1944 and they took part, in the first joint strike with 30 Squadron, from Morotai on 9 December 1944 as part of RAAF 77 (Attack) Wing. David Doughton and Peter Demaine finished their posting with 31 Squadron on 14 January 1945 when they left Morotai.

 


Charles Eaton Photographic Collection via Mitch Williamson

No 31 Squadron Beaufighter from Coomalie, at Potshot in March 1944. 

 

LAC Ronald Charles Holmes (115770) was one of many RAAF personnel based at Coomalie Creek during WWII. He took many photographs which I have added below.

 

LAC Ronald Charles Holmes (115770)

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Cooling off in the creek

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Group photo beside a unit truck

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Driving through the bush in their unit truck

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Relaxing in the bush

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Relaxing under the wing of an aircraft

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Holmes feeding their pet kangaroo

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

On guard duty

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Charles Holmes (115770) in his battle dress

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Beaufighters at Coomalie Creek Airfield

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Coomalie Creek Airfield

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Blurry photo of a large ant hill at Coomalie Creek

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Some sort of wrecked structure on bank of creek at Coomalie CReek

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Ronald Holmes squatting in the creek

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Mess hall party

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Machine shop

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Machine shop

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Machine gun

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Downed Japanese aircraft

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Ready for some hunting!

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Group with some coconuts on the table

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Diving platform

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Diving platform

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Gone swimming!

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Group photo

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Holmes and friends on a boat

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Holmes and friends on a boat

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Group of men with their jeep, LAC Ronald Holmes at far right

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Wirraway A20-805

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Bayonet practice for LAC Ronald Holmes

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Holmes with the catch of the day!

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Holmes doing some fishing

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Holmes at left and two friends in front of RAAF truck

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Charles Holmes taking a break

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Charles Holmes sewing some clothing

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Charles Holmes on a machine gun

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Charles Holmes (at front) in a slit trench

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

LAC Ronald Charles Holmes (115770) sitting above his foxhole

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Refuelling a Wirraway

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Darwin Post Office bombed

 


Photo:- Ronald Holmes

Graves of Darwin Post Offices girls. Miss J.C. Mullen is the closest grave.

 

The airfield still existed in 1995 and was then part of Coomalie Farm owned by Richard Luxton, a lecturer in Architecture at the University of Northern Territory in Darwin. Members of 31 Squadron RAAF revisited Coomalie Creek Airfield in August 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary. The saw a replica of their Squadron Chapel that had been rebuilt at Coomalie Creek. They had laid a 31 Squadron RAAF memorial plaque there back in 1988.

 


Photo:- John Gray

Modern day photo of Coomalie Airfield

 

UNITS BASED AT COOMALIE CREEK
No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (1PRU) RAAF (Wirraways, Buffalos, Lancers, Lightnings and Mosquitoes)
31 Squadron RAAF (Beaufighters)

Section 51 Special Wireless Group were based near Coomalie Creek airfield. They were a secret intercept group who monitored Japanese radio signals.

 

MILITARY AIRCRAFT CRASHES IN THE COOMALIE CREEK AREA DURING WW2

abt Nov 42 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-65
23 Nov 42 near Coomalie Creek Japanese Japanese bomber shot down during bombing raid on Coomalie Creek airfield
23 Nov 42 near Coomalie Creek Japanese Japanese bomber shot down during bombing raid on Coomalie Creek airfield
abt Dec 42 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-45
27 Jan 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF F.VC Spitfire A58-55 (BR549), mid air collision with A58-73 (see below)
27 Jan 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF F.VC Spitfire A58-73 (BS184), mid air collision with A58-55 (see above), 1 killed
25 Feb 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter ?
abt Mar 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-66
abt Mar 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-81
2 Mar 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-31
21 May 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter ?
31 May 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-103
abt Jun 43 Coomalie CReek RAAF Beaufighter A19-62
abt 7 Jun 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-112
21 Nov 43 10 miles inland from Junction Bay (Coomalie Creek area) RAAF Beaufighter A19-145
abt Nov 43 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-82
abt Apr 44 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-98
abt Jul 44 near Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-193
abt Aug 44 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A19-172
abt Nov 44 Coomalie Creek RAAF Beaufighter A8-17
7 Mar 45 Coomalie Creek RAAF Mosquito A52-26, crashed on landing
abt Jun 45 Coomalie Creek RAAF Mosquito A52-611
abt Aug 45 Coomalie Creek RAAF Mosquito A52-605

 

JAPANESE AIR RAIDS AT COOMALIE CREEK AIRFIELD

23 Nov 42 Coomalie Creek airfield
27 Nov 42 (03:56 - 04:46 am) Coomalie Creek airfield, Hughes & Strauss airfields were also bombed
2 Mar 43 (2:34 pm) Coomalie Creek airfield
13 Aug 43 (11:12 pm) Coomalie Creek airfield, Fenton airfield was also bombed
21 Aug 43 (03:07 am) Coomalie Creek airfield, Fenton airfield was also bombed
10 Nov 43 Coomalie Creek airfield

 

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Coomalie Charlie's Commandos - 31 Squadron RAAF"
"Beaufighters at Darwin 1942-43"
by Kenneth Neal McDonald, DFC

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John Gray and Julie Boysen for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 25 October 1999

This page last updated 12 April 2020