RAAF EAST ARM FLYING BOAT BASE
IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
DURING WWII

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Work started on construction of a Flying Boat Base at East Arm on Quarantine Island near Darwin in 1942 and was completed for occupation on 23 September 1943. It was built by 61 Works Wing on the site of a former Quarantine Station. US Navy and RAAF Catalina flying boats were the main users of the base. There was a Flying Boat concrete ramp, a concrete mooring block and a RAAF Marine Crash Boat slipway located at the East Arm Flying Boat Base.

 

The East Arm Flying Boat Base Slipway and Tarmac can be seen at the bottom of the above Plan.
The Army Jetty is most likely the Lugger Maintenance Section Jetty used by SRD

 

The Catalinas based there took part in various bombing raids, mine laying, supply drops, aerial surveillance operations and rescue missions. The RAAF Marine Crash Boats were used to service outlying posts such as radar sites and were used extensively to rescue crews from aircraft crashes in the sea.

East Arm Flying Boat Base was used by 20 Squadron RAAF and 42 Squadron RAAF Catalinas which operated as part of No. 76 Wing. 42 Squadron moved to Melville Bay near Gove in July 1944 leaving a detachment at East Arm. No. 2 Flying Boat Maintenance Unit was probably also based at the East Arm Flying Boat Base.

During WWII there were about 70 buildings spread over a large area at the base.

20 Squadron RAAF handed over the East Arm Flying Boat Base to 112 Air Sea Rescue Flight on 19 November 1945. The Quarantine Station was later re-established at the site.

There are wrecks of six Catalina flying boats within 5 kms of the former East Arm Flying Boat Base. as follows:-

Catalina RAAF A24-1 (exposed at low tide - crashed during takeoff in 1945 on mission to retrieve POW's from Singapore)
Catalina RAAF A24-69 (caught fire on 14 Dec 1945)
Catalina RAAF A24-206 (sank from accident with depth charge on on 20 June 1945)
Catalina US Navy Patrol Wing 10 28-5MNE (sunk during the first  Japanese Air Raid on Darwin on 19 Feb 1942)
Catalina US Navy Patrol Wing 10 PBY-4 (sunk during the first  Japanese Air Raid on Darwin on 19 Feb 1942)
Catalina US Navy Patrol Wing 10 PBY-4 (sunk during the first  Japanese Air Raid on Darwin on 19 Feb 1942)

All that remains of the WWII East Arm Flying Boat Base is the crash boat slipway, remnants of a jetty, a tarmac and parking apron, and ramp and a two large concrete mooring blocks.

 

Army Occupation adjoining the RAAF East Arm Flying Boat base. The left hand jetty is the refuelling jetty.
Note there is a parachute hut at the East Arm Flying Boat Base.

 


Photo:- John Henderson

Nearby SRD Slipway

 


Photo:- John Henderson

Nearby SRD Slipway

 


Photo:- John Henderson

Remains of a Toilet Block in adjacent SRD Camp

 


Photo:- John Henderson

Remains of a Toilet Block in adjacent SRD Camp

 


Photo:- John Henderson

Base of a 1945 Beer bottle on the Toilet Block slab in adjacent SRD Camp

 


Photo:- John Henderson

Another concrete slab in adjacent SRD Camp

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Appendix C Archaeological Survey of the East Arm Wharf Expansion and Surrounding Area Darwin NT

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John Henderson for his 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 27 July 2014

This page last updated 07 September 2018