13 RADAR STATION
CAPE OTWAY, NEAR APOLLO BAY, VICTORIA
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

13 Radar Station RAAF was formed on 28 May 1942 at Cape Otway, near Apollo Bay, Victoria to Provisional War Establishment H.D.273 Authority 231/9/1079 as follows:-

Personnel - 1 Officer (F/Lt.) and 45 airmen
Mechanical Transport - 1 Tender, light

13 Radar's role was "to provide Air Warning by means of R.D.F. equipment." Their equipment comprised 1 only CD/CHL Transmitter, A.W. Aerial Turning Gear and Receiver, two Ford (Mercury) V8, 25 K.V.A. petrol generating sets. Buildings comprised four naval buildings for the Royal Australian Navy War Signalling Station, one reinforced concrete building for R.D.F. equipment and two reinforced concrete dug-outs for generating sets.

 


Photo:- Barry Chant 23 May 2019

13 Radar Station bunkers at Cape Otway

 

An advance party of Officers from Air Board comprising F/O Roger Sidney Choate(051846) and P/O J. Weir together with P/O Roy Llewellyn Harrison (039379), the Commanding Officer of 13 Radar Station and an inspector from the Department of Interior visited the site from 6 - 13 June 1942.

The following personnel arrived at the site with equipment and barracks stores on 13 June 1942:-

P/O Roy Llewellyn Harrison (039379), Commanding Officer
Cpl. Aubrey Stephen Bagley (43235), Radio Mechanic
AC.1 Andrew George Nottle (60857), Radio Mechanic
AC.1 Arthur Sankey (60859), Radio Operator
AC.1 Walter James Dawson (80165), Radio Operator
Cpl Frederick Maurice Davies (41964), Service Police
Cpl. Vincent Joseph Gazzard (21802), Service Police
Cpl. John Henry Payne (41263), Service Police
LAC Thomas Reeves (4034), Cook
LAC Ross Alwyn Coles (27297), General Hand (Labourer)
AC.1 William Henry Hocking (50679), D.M.T.
LAC Eric John McCormack (40737), Clerk Stores
AC.1 Frederick Charles McArdle (49449), Clerk General

Work commenced constructing six new buildings on 13 June 1942, comprising two huts for sleeping quarters, one mens building, one orderly room and guard room, combined latrine and ablution hut for Officers and latrine for Airmen.

The following personnel arrived at the site between 13 - 19 June 1942:-

Cpl. Ray Bramwell (25711), Nursing Orderly
AC.1 William Arbuthnott (29067), Fitter IIE
LAC Frank Cyril Plumer (5625), Fitter IIE
AC.1 William Henry Skeffington (47454), Fitter IIE

Between 19 - 30 June 1942 eleven other Airmen arrived at the Unit bringing strength to one Officer and 28 Airmen. Various other personnel left or joined the unit over time.

 


Photo:- Barry Chant 23 May 2019

Plaque erected by Victorian RAAF Radar Association

 


Photo:- Barry Chant 23 May 2019

Interpretive sign at the site of the former 13 Radar Station RAAF

 


Photo:- Steve Meekin March 2020

Interpretive sign about the WWII Australian coastline

 


Photo:- Steve Meekin March 2020

Interpretive sign about Japan entering the war in the Pacific in December 1941

 


Photo:- Steve Meekin March 2020

Interpretive sign about German activity in Australian waters during WWII

 

On 20 August 1942 a Naval Rating called Miller visited the site to check the camouflage arrangements.

On 10 September 1942 a windmill, water tanks and pipes were installed at the site.

Mr. Robinson, the official Camoufleur visited the site on 6 October 1942. The Camouflage contactor started work on the site on 6 October 1942 and left the site with Mr. Robinson on 19 October 1942.

The Service Police were replaced by Guards who held some rifle practice at the site from 11 - 16 October 1942 and again on 23 October 1942.

Three electricians from the Department of the Interior, L. Freeland, I.W. Walder and L. Todd, arrived at the site on 16 November 1942 to install electric lights for the adjacent Royal Australian Navy War Signalling Station.

The Unit Tender (truck) picked up an organ from Lavers Hill that had been donated to 13 Radar Station.

Camouflage contractor C. McInnes and carpenter A. Laven arrived on site on 24 November 1942 to complete the camouflage work. Camoufleur W.O. Green took over from Mr. Robinson on 25 November 1942. On 28 November 1942, V.E. Greenhalgh, D.A. Woolston and C.W. Bazenor all from the Department of Home Security plus some members of the Camouflage Committee visited the site. The camouflage workers then left the site together with the previously mentioned officials.

Three airmen, LAC G. Redway, LAC S.L. Thomson and LAC William Arts (41054), from No. 1 R.I.M.U. arrived on site on 30 November 1942 to carry out modifications to the Aerial Turning Gear. They left the site on 7 December 1942.

 


Photo:- Barry Chant 23 May 2019

Radar Aerial turning gear

 


Photo:- Barry Chant 23 May 2019

Radar Aerial turning gear

 

Camoufleur W.O. Green and workers McInnes and Laven arrived on site to continue camouflage work on 8 December 1942. On 13 December 1942, the Camouflage Committee, comprising Professor W.J. Dakin, C.W. Beazenor, R.W. Sterling and V.E. Greenhalgh all visited the site and left later that day along with W.O. Green and the workmen. W.O. Green and workmen together with another Camoufleur D. Miller arrived at the site on 16 December 1942. They all left site on 23 December 1942.

Cpl. K.A. Blair and Cpl. Edwin William Noonan (42936) arrived on site on 19 December 1942 from 1 R.I.M.U. to carry our modifications to the feeder system. They left site on 6 January 1943.

F/O Robert William Fletcher (296057) was replaced as Commanding Officer by F/Lt. Alan Sidney Johnson (250855) on 7 February 1943. The new CO F/Lt. Alan Johnson was admitted to Station Sick Quarters (S.S.Q.) of No. 7 School of Technical Training (No. 7 S.T.T.) with an ankle injury. F/O Edmund Bruce Skinner (263535) arrived on 19 February to take over temporary commend of the unit until 5 March when F/Lt. Johnson returned to site.

 


Photo:- Steve Meekin March 2020

Concrete radar bunker at Cape Otway

 


Photo:- Barry Chant 23 May 2019

One of the concrete radar bunkers

 


Photo:- Barry Chant 23 May 2019

Concrete radar bunker at Cape Otway

 


Photo:- Barry Chant 23 May 2019

Inside one of the concrete radar bunkers

 

On 6 February 1943, four Vickers machine guns, complete will ammunition for instructional and defence purposes were placed on the A.I.U. schedule. A Unit rifle shoot was held on 15 February 1943. Classes commenced on 16 February 1943 on machine gun and demolition instruction for all personnel.

On 22 March 1943, S. Moore and R. Pearce from the Department of the Interior arrived to erect poles for installation of an A.S.V. beacon which was completed on 1 April 1943. F/O Chappell and beacon installation party from R.D.F./I.M.U. left site on 5 April 1943.

The site suffered considerable damage to buildings on 18 April 1943 due to high winds. The windmill was also blown over. Four Thompson sub machine guns were received by the unit on 22 April 1943.

The installation of W/T equipment was completed on 29 April 1943 and three Telegraphists arrived on 10 May 1943.

The Unit's Tender No. C11230 overturned on Cape Otway Road bout 8 miles from the site on 3 June 1943. No one was injured by the truck was extensively damaged and was replaced on the same day. The replacement Tender No. C11883 ran off the road on 26 June 1943, about three miles from the site and struck a tree damaging the engine. No personnel were injured.

Regular Machine gun training and rifle and Thompson machine gun firing practice were held. A lecture was given on 24 July 1943 on hand grenades after which personnel were made familiar with their handling and throwing.

On 31 August 1943, F. Cochrane and party, from Southern Cross Windmill Company completed the installation of a diesel powered water pump which replaced the broken windmill. A. Harden, a building contractor, arrived on site on 22 November 1943 from the Department of the Interior to start work on improving the water supply.

The Commanding Officer F/Lt. Alan Sidney Johnson (250855) went on leave from 1 - 13 December 1943 and P/O J. Cooper of 67 Squadron arrived on 29 November 1943 to take over as temporary Commanding Officer. P/O Cooper was recalled by 67 Squadron on posting and F/O R. Steel was appointed as temporary Commanding Officer.

F/Lt. Alan Sidney Johnson (250855) was admitted to Station Sick Quarters of No. 7 School of Technical Training on 5 January 1944. He was discharged from there on 10 January 1944 and admitted to No. 1 C.D.

Cpl. Norman John Alfred Vieusseux (49140) and Cpl. Desmond Joseph Dacy (42641) arrived from No. 1 R.I.M.U. on 25 January 1944 to install B.L.4 equipment. After completion of the installation and some testing they left site on 5 February 1944.

On 15 March 1944, Commanding Officer P/O J. Stark went on leave until 20 March and was temporarily replaced by P/O N.R. Bennett. On 25 March 1944, P/O Stark moved on a new posting to No. 1 R.I.M.U. and was replaced as Commanding Officer by P/O Bennett.

On 31 May 1944, the Station Strength was 2 Officers and 41 Airmen.

P/O Bennett went on leave from 6 - 24 June 1942 and was temporarily replaced by P/O Frederick Ronald Dennis (419959) as Commanding Officer.

The second edition of the Unit's Wall Newspaper "The Doover News" was issued on 15 June 1944. The Radar Unit's football team defeated the Apollo Bay team at Apollo Bay on 24 June 1944.

On 27 June 1944, P/O N.R. Bennett was transferred to No. 355 Radar Station and was replaced by P/O Frederick Ronald Dennis (419959) as Commanding Officer.

On 7 July 1944, Flying Officer Edgar James Best (117352), the Area Filter Officer, arrived at the Unit to enquire as to the reason why their Radar Equipment could not locate aircraft flying daily between Tasmania and the mainland. It was pointed out that the equipment did normally detect the aircraft but that because of the nature of the lobe, low flying aircraft would normally not be located. F/O Best left the site on 8 July 1944.

The BL4 equipment was sent to Laverton on 25 July 1944. The July edition of the Unit Wall newspaper "The Doover News" was issued on 17 July 1944.

The Radar Maintenance Party arrived to overhaul the equipment on 11 August 1944 and left on 15 August.

F/Lt. Edgar James Bass (117352) took over as Commanding Officer from P/O Frederick Ronald Dennis (419959) on 28 August 1944. 419 Shipping and 227 Aircraft plots were passed on to No. 107 Fighter Control Unit (107 FCU) during August 1944.

A number of personnel attended a dance at Apollo Bay on 1 September 1944.

In accordance with instructions received from Southern Area Headquarters, the Radar Operational watch was closed at 1800 hours (local time) from 15 September 1944. A daily 4 hour watch from 0700 - 1100 hours was maintained each day.

On the afternoon of 16 September 1944 a competitive rifle shooting competition was held with the 19th Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps at Apollo Bay. The VDC team won 277 to 251.

Cpl. R.J. Crossley left by ambulance on 22 September 1944 for No. 6 RAAF Hospital Heidelberg with suspected malaria.

On 28 September 1944, a defect developed in the ASV Beacon rendering it non-operational until 10 October. 61 Aircraft plots and 309 Shipping plots were passed on to No. 107 FCU during September 1944.

Two Radar mechanics from Southern Area visited to inspect the ASV Beacon on 11 October 1944.

115 Aircraft plots and 121 Shipping plots were passed on to 107 FCU during October 1944.

F/Lt. J. Jordon, Area Radar Officer, and a Maintenance Party of four inspected and made adjustments to the radar equipment from 7 - 10 November 1944.

98 Shipping and 273 Aircraft plots were passed on to 107 FCU during November 1944. By 30 November 1944, Unit Strength had reduced to 1 Officer and 17 A Other Ranks.

Following a report of medium enemy submarine activity in the area, No. 107 FCU requested on 11 December 1944 that a 24 hour watch be maintained for a period of possibly 3 or 4 days. On the same day Messrs. F.J. Kerr and J.W. Reid, from the Radio Physics Laboratory of CSIR arrived in connection with Atmospheric Physics.

On 13 December 1944, the unit encountered interference on their radar screen. At first they thought it could be from a possible enemy submarine, but later considered it was probably coming from a radar on a corvette.

A Maintenance Party of four from Headquarters Southern Area arrived on site on 18 December 1944. Very strong winds were encountered on 21 December which prevented operation of the Radar. The Maintenance Party left the same day.

247 Aircraft and 240 Shipping plots were passed on to 107 FCU during December 1944.

An Avro Anson from Ballaratt landed on an emergency landing ground at Apollo Bay on 9 January 1945. Two guards were provided by 13 Radar Station during the night. A second Avro Anson landed on the following day with the guards then guarding two aircraft overnight.

On 21 January 1945, Sgt Friday left by ambulance for No. 6 RAAF Hospital with suspected malaria.

On 22 January 1945, the Radar Station was placed on 24 hour watch from 1200 K hours on instructions from 107 FCU. Normal Radar watch 1900 - 0500 hours resumed at 1115 K hours on 23 January 1945 on instruction from 107 FCU.

239 Aircraft and 343 Shipping plots were passed on to 107 FCU during January 1945.

From 21 January 1945, 13 Radar Station ceased to be a separate Air Force Unit and became a Section of Air Defence Headquarters Melbourne.

164 Aircraft and 137 Shipping plots were passed through to 107 FCU during February 1945. Aircraft ranges out to 120 miles were achieved.

360 Aircraft and 111 Shipping plots were passed through to 107 FCU during March 1945.

On 7 April 1945, F/Lt. Edgar James Bass (117352) handed over command of 13 Radar Station to F/Lt James Douglas Haig Muir (63101). A Maintenance Party from ADHQ with W/O W. Campbell in charge arrived on 17 April 1945 to carry out general maintenance.

The Australian Army ceased to supply the Radar Station with rations on 3 June 1945. The Station then procured rations on a subsistence basis.

Command of the Unit was handed over by F/Lt James Douglas Haig Muir (63101) to F/Sgt A.D. Graham on 4 July 1945.

Command of the Unit was handed over by F/Sgt A.D. Graham to F/Lt William James Gravell (50356) on 11 July 1945.

Command of the Unit was handed over by F/Lt William James Gravell (50356) to F/Sgt A.D. Graham on 24 July 1945

On 24 October 1945, AC.1 Kenneth Malcolm Searle (149958), LAC James Graham Stanton (59432) and A.W. Thompson arrived from Laverton by ambulance to convey LAC George Edsall (418081) to hospital. Later suspected to be another case of malaria

On 9 November 1945, a Maintenance Party comprising Sgt Baker and three other ranks visited to carry out maintenance on the technical equipment. They departed on 11 November 1945.

13 Radar Station was manned by a skeleton crew on 25 December 1945 to allow the majority of 13 Radar Station to spend Christmas off the site.

On 14 January 1946, F/O Thomas Ingle Parramore (64146) arrived to take over as Commanding Officer.

On 3 February 1946, the big end seized on No. 2 motor shutting down the power supply.

On 16 February 1946, permission was obtained from C.S.O. Southern Area Headquarters to close down the Radar Station pending examination of the position due to a shortage of technical staff. Strength of the Unit at the end of February 1946 was 1 Officer and 6 Other Ranks.

LAC George Edsall (418081), Radar Mechanic (G) returned from sick quarters Laverton but departed the next day on posting to 1 PD for discharge.

On 25 March 1946, Staff Officers from Southern Area Headquarters visited in preparation for disbandment of the Unit. They were Wing Commander Candy S.E.S.O., Squadron Leader Murphy S.O.W. and W/O Duncan 2 T.M.O.

F/O B.S. Mulcahy arrived on 26 March 1946, to take over as Commanding Officer.

On 15 April 1946, Staff Officers from S.A.H.Q., Air Commodore Knox Knight A.O.C. and Wing Commander Clark C.S.O. visited the site.

On 17 June 1946 the last load of equipment was moved from site by T.M.O.

13 Radar Station was disbanded on 18 June 1946.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Steve Meekin and Barry Chant for their assistance with this web page.

 

REFERENCES

13 Radar Station RAAF Operations Record Book

 

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This page first produced 23 May 2019

This page last updated 12 March 2020