Seven and a half acres of land of the Trustee, of Lord Somer's Holiday Camp plus another 85 acres from the Coolart estate opposite the main gate were acquired under the National Security Act in early 1940 to establish 1 Initial Training School RAAF to train up to 600 aircrew as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme EATS. On 12 April 1940 an advance party arrived at Somers on the shores of Western Port, Victoria to prepare for its first students who arrived on 29 April 1940. The initial Commanding Officer was Flight Lieutenant Thomas Walter White (250875) a parliamentarian.

The former site is located at 124 Lord Somers Road, Somers, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Victoria.

It was bitterly cold and windy at Somers and water had to be transported from Bittern. Some of the topics that students were trained in were as follows:-

In June 1940 students started Link Trainer familiarisation training.

On 1 July 1941, the Women's Auxiliary in the town of Somers started a canteen service for 1ITS. A 1ITS newsletter called the "Somers Sun" was started to also help morale at the isolated camp. Regular sporting competitions in rugby union, tennis and cricket kept students occupied.

Squadron Leader Clive Alexander Brewster (271489) took over as Commanding Officer of 1ITS on 4 September 1941.

The Unit strength for 1 Initial Training School in September 1941 stood at 35 officers, 266 airmen and 914 trainees. By the end of November 1941 there were 953 trainees with a total compliment at the camp of 1,272 personnel.

Wing Commander Norman Mulroney (260064) took over as Commanding Officer on 25 May 1942.

The first WAAAF recruits started their training at Somers on 8 July 1942. The final WAAAF recruit course graduated at Somers in February 1943. A Stewardess course for WAAAF's started in August 1942.

Wing Commander Haniel Haddon Kilby (260199) took over as Commanding Officer on 19 November 1943. Wing Commander Herbert Francis Boston (250236) took over as the last Commanding Officer on 24 January 1945.

Aircrew training came to an end at Somers in June 1945. By the end of July personnel numbers on site had reduced significantly and a greater percentage of the stores equipment had been returned to stores. 1 Initial Training School ceased operations on 6 August 1945. Personnel from the Radio Development and Installation Unit at Croydon in New South Wales arrived at Somers at the end of August 1945. 1 Initial Training School was finally disbanded on 13 October 1945.

A total of 12,984 aircrew and 1,271 WAAAF recruits were trained at Somers between 1940 and 1945. After the war the site became a Commonwealth Government European Immigration Camp.



I'd like to thank Bruce Buchan for his assistance with this web page.



Units of the Royal Australian Air Force; A Concise History - Volume 8 Training Units


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This page first produced 21 December 2018

This page last updated 13 January 2020