Leyburn Airfield 4 October 1945


Leyburn Airfield Leyburn was located 37 kms from Toowoomba between Toowoomba and Warwick. It was one of four airfields provided for use by the USAAF's Heavy Bomber aircraft in the event of a Japanese landing near Brisbane. The Australian War Cabinet approved the urgent construction of Leyburn Airfield on 8 May 1942. This of course was just after the Battle of the Coral Sea

It would appear that would was already well advanced before this approval as on 3 May 1942, PO Keays reported that the NW-SE runway had been cleared and graded for a length of 7,000 feet and suitable for use in dry weather. A camp had been erected and gravelling of the NW-SW runway was due to start on 5 May 1942.

All facilities at Leyburn were completed by April 1943.  It was described as "a heavy bomber field with buildings and services for 450 personnel (no sleeping accommodation)". By July 1943, it was one of 17 airfields in Queensland that were still unoccupied.

An advanced party of 21 Squadron RAAF, arrived at Leyburn airfield from Camden in New South Wales on 9 July 1944. The advanced party comprised 1 Officer, 29 Other Ranks, 2 Chev trucks, 1 Dodge Weapon Carrier, blankets, mess gear and 7 days rations. 

When they arrived at Leyburn, the camp consisted of one large building which was the mess hall and kitchen. They immediately started to dig latrines and erect tents in readiness for the arrival of the crews. The camp was about 3 miles from the airfield hidden in a pine and she-oak forest on the Leyburn to Clifton Road.

23 Squadron RAAF arrived at Leyburn on 19 October 1944 from Menangle, NSW while 21 Squadron was still there.

99 Squadron RAAF arrived at Leyburn on 1 February 1945 and became a lodger unit there with 23 Squadron.

In June 1944 it was decided that the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) and the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) should have an RAAF unit allocated to it to assist it in delivering agents and supplies of the Australian Army's "Z Special Operations unit by parachute into enemy territory. 200 Flight RAAF was formed as a Special Duties (SD) unit at Leyburn airfield, on 20 February 1945. 200 Flight RAAF was equipped with Liberators to allow them to carry the planned cargoes and achieve the duration range into enemy territory. The USAAF 380th Bomb Group were also working with Special Operations.

Leyburn airfield was now starting to get crowded. It was decided to move 99 Squadron to Jondaryn/Brymaroo airfields in the last week of March 1945.

A separate Parachute Training Unit was established at Leyburn Airfield for "Z" Special Unit in May 1945. They worked in conjunction with 200 Flight RAAF which operated B-24 Liberators.

200 Flight RAAF disbanded at Leyburn in December 1945, leaving the airfield deserted. The Australian Grand Prix was first staged at Leyburn airfield in 1949. 


Captain Sam Carey's recollections of his time at
1 Australian Parachute Training Depot at Richmond


Captain Sam Carey developed methods to drop
paratroops from B-24s using "Beautiful Betsy



Dedication of Plaque at Liberator Place, Leyburn
"RAAF Leyburn Memorial 1942 - 1946"
on 15 August 2015


Well Saturday 15 August has come and gone and the deeds of 200 Flight and the "Z" Team Operatives have been further memorialised with the placement of that beautiful monument in Liberator Place Leyburn.

It was a magnificent day weather wise, indeed it could not have been better. I feel the ceremony went very well with good numbers in attendance.

The stars of the event of course were the two WW2 RAAF Leyburn Veterans Ian Lang and Jim Banks OAM MID and the families of the three other veterans who had either passed away or were to fail to make the journey.

I feel that Ian Lang did a brilliant job despite being 93 years old and I was so glad that he was able to travel up from Victoria for the occasion.

Saturday was not only the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender and the end of WW2, but for me it was also the culmination of some ten months of intensive work to see the placement of a suitable monument at the remains of the Leyburn Airfield.

I sincerely believe that the end product is a fitting memorial to the Leyburn men and the project has filled me with a deep seated feeling of accomplishment and I am grateful for the experience.

Kind regards,

Ian Waters OAM


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Monument and Flag at half mast


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Grant Nicholls, President of Leyburn, officiating at the ceremony


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Councillor Peter Blundell, Mayor of Southern Downs Regional Council addressing the gathering


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Squadron Leader Scott Harvey addressing the gathering


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Ian Waters addressing the gathering


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Jim Banks - RAAF Leyburn veteran laying a wreath


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Ian Lang, RAAF Leyburn Veteran and Patron of the Leyburn RSL, unveiling the monument


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Ian Lang, RAAF Leyburn Veteran and Patron of the Leyburn RSL, unveiling the monument


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Army Chaplin Major Snape dedicating the Memorial


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Gary Sprott, RSL Secretary, reading The Ode


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Left to right:- Ian Lang and Jim Banks OAM


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Left to right:- Ian Waters, Ian Lang, Jim Banks and Squadron Leader Scott Harvey


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Memorial plinth


Photo:- via Ian Waters

Memorial Plaque



"Queensland Airfields WW2 - 50 Years On"
By Roger R. Marks



I'd like to thank Andrew Owen and Ian Waters for their assistance with this web page.


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This page first produced 18 January 2004

This page last updated 30 June 2021