The Ross River airfield started off as a civilian airfield before WW2. Queensland Air Navigation Company was formed in 1928 and the site for Ross River airfield was selected in 1930. Passenger flights started in 1930 with three flights per week to Brisbane. The first aircraft belonging to Q.A.N. landed there in April or May 1930. A larger airfield was needed and the Townsville City Council started to build Garbutt Airfield. The famous Charles Kingsford-Smith flew Joy Flights our of Ross River airfield in about 1933.

The 36th Fighter Squadron of the 8th Fighter Group, USAAC, returned from Port Moresby to the Townsville area on 30 June 1942 for various rest and re-equipment tasks. 

Ground elements of the 36th Fighter Squadron arrived back in Townsville on the ship Tasman on 30 June 1942. They stayed at Antil Plains airfield until 2 August 1942 when they moved to Ross River airfield. They used the new runway that was nearing completion on the edge of Townsville. The 36th Fighter Squadron then moved to Milne Bay in New Guinea on 18 September 1942.

At some stage during the war, the famous Ace of Aces, Major Richard Ira "Dick" Bong staged through Townsville with the 9th Fighter Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group, spending time at Garbutt Airfield and possibly Ross River airfield. A bridge in Townsville has been named "The Major Richard I. Bong Bridge" in honour of Richard Bong which is located in the vicinity of the WW2 Ross River airfield.


7sqn05.jpg (191674 bytes)
Photo:- Len Storey

Photograph of Ross River airfield
from Mount Stuart


7sqn02.jpg (82462 bytes)
Photo:- Len Storey

GES at Ross River airfield
Front to rear:- MacIntosh, Brown, Len Storey & Bill'
The partially obscured bloke on the right is not named


7sqn19.jpg (100924 bytes)
Photo:- Len Storey

Beaufort A9-397 at Ross River airfield.
Mt. Stuart in the background


7sqn10.jpg (62319 bytes)
Photo:- Len Storey

7 Squadron Beaufort at Ross River airfield
with Mt. Stuart in the background


7sqn06.jpg (134851 bytes)
Photo:- Len Storey

Sick quarters at Ross River airfield


7sqn04.jpg (89018 bytes)
Photo:- Len Storey

Pay Parade at Ross River airfield


7sqn03.jpg (105216 bytes)
Photo:- Len Storey

Meal parade at Ross River airfield cookhouse


7 Squadron RAAF moved to Ross River airfield from Nowra on 6 November 1942.  While in the Townsville area they flew their Beaufort bombers on seaward convoy and anti-submarine patrols. 7 Squadron was based at Ross River airfield until January 1943 and then at Townsville (Garbutt?), from January 1943 until March 1944.

As a young boy growing up in Townsville I used to ride my push bike back in the late 1950's early 1960's out to the old Ross River airfield to watch light aircraft, mostly Tiger Moths, and radio controlled aircraft using the old runway.



I'd like to thank David Storey for his assistance with this home page. His father LAC Leonard James "Len" Storey (52163) was an engine mechanic with 7 Squadron RAAF.


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

This page first produced 5 January 2003

This page last updated 13 January 2020