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Photo:- Ian Jenkins

Ranelagh House


No. 2 WAAAF Training Depot was established during WW2 in the 1924 English Manor house originally built as the Hotel Robertson. On 13 February 1942, an advance party led by Flight Officer Gwen Stark arrived at the vacant building which had been commandeered for use as a training establishment by the RAAF.

The large three-story brick building with its 80 or more rooms, was situated on 13.5 acres of land on the corner of the Illawarra Highway and Fountaindale Road, Robertson near the Macquarie Pass.

Living conditions at Robertson were very 'spartan', as the first intake of recruits from Queensland and New South Wales experienced, with 'trench style' latrines. No. 2 WAAAF Training Depot moved to 2 Embarkation Depot at Bradfield Park, as a lodger unit on 7 March 1942.

No. 2 WAAAF Training Depot was disbanded on 18 February 1943 and its personnel were incorporated into No. 5 WAAAF Training Depot at Bradfield Park, NSW.

After the WAAAF's left in 1943, the building was purchased by the Catholic Church and used as a Franciscan Seminary. It was later used as a retreat centre by the Catholic Church who eventually sold it in approximately 1972. More recently it has operated as a guest house and conference centre. It is now called "Ranelagh House".

One former WAAAF member recalls: -

"I joined the WAAAF in 1942 and after a memorable month of rookies at Robertson, was posted to Area Finance Headquarters, Dymock's Building, George Street, Sydney. Chips Rafferty would always join our section for morning tea - quite an event in the life of an eighteen year old country girl".


Photo:- Ian Jenkins

Ranelagh House



The WAAAF Book, Stevenson and Darling, P.282-283, 'Thank God for the Salvos!'

A former Salvation Army Welfare Officer recalls: "Following interviews with senior WAAAF officers, I found myself at Robertson in New South Wales, where at the one time Ranelagh Hotel, hundreds of rookies were in training - tall and short, stout and thin, clad in navy blue overalls and berets, wearing black service shoes, and I fell among this exuberant mass. Squadron Officer Gwen Stark (CO in charge) initiated me forcefully, yet kindly, and made available a room in which to store welfare equipment and to which WAAAF were encouraged to come.

Early in my residence I found I became an official 'shopper'. In dense fog most mornings, I set out on foot for the one village shop to buy sweets, biscuits, cordial, bobby pins, etc. Transport was very limited, but was made available when possible. Leave passes were sparse, hence this service was appreciated.

My room was a refuge for me when unsure what came next, until I heard, 'Cappy, where are you?' My Squadron Officer was on my trail, thrusting me into new areas of service. One involvement was to be with the WAAAF Welfare Officer during sport. Asked by her to select teams for baseball and to referee the same, I failed to inform her that I had never played in such a team (my sport had been tennis). Teams were chosen on the field and we began. At the appropriate time girls would call to me, 'Blow the whistle, Cappy'. I promptly used my equipment and thus learned the rudiments of the game.

Acceleration of movement of WAAAF to the north to replace RAAF required for service in far northern areas took Squadron Officer Stark from Robertson to Townsville to be CO of WAAAF at North Eastern Area Headquarters. Soon after her departure, I was advised of my own movement to Townsville.........."



I'd like to thank Ian Jenkins for his assistance with this web page.



The WAAAF Book
by Stevenson and Darling


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This page first produced 30 June 2007

This page last updated 25 January 2020