NORFOLK ISLAND AIRFIELD
In September 1942 a large Army camp was located on Norfolk Island to house a 1500-strong force of New Zealand infantry and artillery. Norfolk Island is an Australian territory located about 800 kms north west of New Zealand and 1,610 kms north east of Sydney. There was a cable station linking New Zealand and Australia located on Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island is about 8 kms long 5 kms wide.
An airfield was constructed on Norfolk Island. The famous mile-long avenue of pines had to be sacrificed for the airfield. The airfield was used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) for bomber patrols and for a transport service to Bougainville. The New Zealand forces stayed on Norfolk Island until July 1946, when the last RNZAF personnel were withdrawn.
On Christmas Day 1942, the first plane, a RNZAF Hudson landed unofficially, but the other Hudson dropped its load. First official landing at the Norfolk Island airfield was on 29 December 1942.
Personnel of RNZAF's Northern Group arrived on Norfolk Island in 1943 and some more in 1944. There were WAAAFs based on Norfolk Island. The RNZAF took over the defence of the island from the Army. They had a radar unit, an air-sea rescue unit and servicing section for transport aircraft. The radar unit became operational in May 1943.
Initially the island had been used as a base for operational aircraft. It later became a staging point between New Zealand and the forward area. There were an average of about 150 planes a month staged through Norfolk Island. No 40 (Transport) Squadron flew a C60 (Lodestar) through Norfolk Island each Friday, returning the same day.
There were also Coast Watchers located on Norfolk Island during WW2.
"The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History" (2000).
"Royal New Zealand Air Force"
by Squadron Leader JMS Ross
(1955, official war history)
"The Gunners" Norfolk Is
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 21 December 2001
This page last updated 07 September 2018