5 RECRUIT DEPOT RAAF
MELBOURNE, VIC
THEN BALMORAL, VIC
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

5 Recruit Depot RAAF was formed at Headquarters, 1 Training Group, in Melbourne, Victoria on 23 March 1942 with Flight Lieutenant George Willoughby Whatmore (270927) as its temporary Commanding Officer. On 24 March 1942, three officers and twenty two other ranks left by train for the new home for 5 Recruit Depot at Balmoral, in the Grampian Ranges in Victoria. The site was located on the southern side of Rocklands Reservoir, near Hamilton.

At the end of March 1942, 5 Recruit Depot's strength was 5 officers and 30 other ranks. 226 recruits arrived from 1 Recruiting Centre on 3 April 1942. By the following day the numbers had increased to 9 officers and 307 other ranks.

The content of the recruit training was changed at least twice. The local Volunteer Defence Corps VDC attacked 5 Recruit Depot on 6 December 1942 as part of their training. RAAF Aircraft from the Armament School at nearby Hamilton made mock attacks on 5 Recruit Depot trainees and their installations on 17 May 1943 allowing the staff and trainees to practice their air raid dispersal precautions.

On 17 May 1944, 5 Recruit Depot was issued with two Bren Guns and a Vickers machine gun for use as training aids for the trainees. The last entry in the Unit History Record on 30 September 1944 showed that a total of 9,031 recruits had graduated from 5 Recruit Depot.

 


Photo:- Leigh Hart 2021

"Single man's quarters" at 5 Recruit Depot

 


Photo:- Leigh Hart 2021

"Single man's quarters" donated by the Timms Family & renovated
by R. Mutch, with timber supplied by Kanagulk Red Gum.

 


Photo:- Leigh Hart 2021

A number of houses at the site accommodated managers and families, a couple
survive overlooking the reservoir. Believed to be the Reservoir keeper's residence
and the Officers Accommodation and Mess, perhaps spruced up a bit since WWII.

 

Leigh Hart contacted me on 4 June 2021 and told me that the book "Rocklands Revisited 1995" by Jo Collie, covers the background and construction of the Rocklands Reservoir and its war years when the RAAF took over the then partly constructed site.

The training was mostly for Ground Staff recruits, but there were also men who had enlisted as Air Crew. The latter were there as the I.T.S  system did not have the vacancies for them at that time.

One of Leigh Hart's uncles was there in 1942 - from mid May 1942 (about six weeks after 5 RD opened) to 6 June 1942. His record says he was at Point Cook, Headquarters until mid October 1942 after that, when he was eventually posted to 1 I.T.S at Somers. Subsequently he completed his training in Canada before being posted to the U.K.

The two recruits were housed in each of the huts which housed the reservoir workers previously. One single man's hut survives outside the current camping ground entrance (see above photo). Most of the 183 huts were 6' x 8', a few were 8' x 10'.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Leigh Hart for her assistance with this web page.

 

REFERENCES

"Rocklands Revisited 1995" by Jo Collie

"Units of the RAAF - Volume 8 Training Units"

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 4 June 2021

This page last updated 04 June 2021