Sunday History Photo / Vic

Submitted: Sunday, Sep 21, 2014 at 09:18
ThreadID: 109564 Views:3536 Replies:5 FollowUps:4
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Lake Boga Flying Boat Base was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flying boat base at Lake Boga, Victoria, Australia during World War II.
When the Imperial Japanese attacked Darwin and Broome in 1942 resulting in the loss of 16 flying boats, the establishment of a safe haven for flying boats was required inland as a remote facility outside the sphere of Japanese airplanes. Lake Boga was picked as it allowed almost unlimited choice of landing/take off directions and was free of obstructions. It was also close to nearby infrastructure.
Required for Australian, Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force and United States flying boat servicing and repairs, Lake Boga was commissioned in June 1942.






No. 1 Flying Boat Repair and Service Depot was set up to provide the repair and servicing requirements. Lake Boga was recommended by Squadron Leader Gareth O'Brien since he was familiar with the area having grown up in Kerang. Of note, Myles O'Brien (Father to Gareth) was the local solicitor and owned the first auto-mobile in Kerang. SQN leader Gareth O'Brien saw service with the R.N.A.S Royal Navel Ariel Service in Yorkshire UK in the late 1920s and Cairo, Egypt in the early 1930s. Being an avid photographer of that time he took many black and white photographs that still exist and have been published in some historical publications. Flight Lieutenant (at the time) Gareth O'Brien was awarded the D.S.O. for dropping two bombs from his aircraft on a submarine in the English Channel, March 6, 1918. A direct hit was reported by the observer and it was thought to have sunk but SQN Leader O'Brien, in a letter to his Father, thought he perhaps only gave it a 'shake up'.




Facilities constructed at the base included workshops and hangars on the foreshore, a stores area, living quarters, sick quarters at Castle Donnington, a first-aid and dental post, a radio transmitting station and a VHF transmitting station.
Flying boats serviced, repaired, restored, rebuilt or overhauled during the operation of the base were PBY Catalina, Dornier Do 24, OS2U Kingfisher, Short Sunderland, Supermarine Walrus and Martin Mariner. The station at Lake Boga closed in November 1947.



Thanks to Bron Smith of Granton, suburb of Hobart, Tasmania for these 3 fantastic photo's below at the Museum .





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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Sep 21, 2014 at 11:38

Sunday, Sep 21, 2014 at 11:38
Another good one Doug

Thanks

Alan
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Reply By: Stu & "Bob" - Sunday, Sep 21, 2014 at 18:55

Sunday, Sep 21, 2014 at 18:55
Good one Doug.

Here is a little addendum.

Who holds the record for the longest non-stop commercial air route and the record for the longest ever non-stop commercial flight – 32 hours 9 minutes... 5632km (3520 miles)?

The Double Sunrise: Qantas’ secret Perth–Ceylon wartime service

When Singapore fell to Japan in February 1942 Australia lost its air connection to Britain. A new route was urgently needed.
Hudson Fysh, co-founder of Qantas, wanted to establish a civilian service between Australia and Ceylon, despite the fact that at this time Japan had complete domination of the Indian Ocean, but civil aviation authorities ruled that this route was too dangerous to attempt.
In 1943, at the urging of the British Government, the Royal Air Force in Britain supplied Qantas with five Catalina aircraft, if Qantas agreed to open a flying route from Perth to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It was to be the world's longest regular non-stop service – a total distance of 5632km (3520 miles). The weight of fuel limited the Catalina's load to only three passengers and 69kg of diplomatic and armed forces mail. The flying boats travelled at 160 miles an hour.
Qantas Empire Airways began to operate the Catalina flying boats between Perth and Koggala Lake in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
This extraordinary, top secret, civilian service made 271 crossings of the Indian Ocean with no loss of life, continuing right through to the end of the war. In the process they delivered 860 high priority government and military passengers, large quantities of microfilmed mail, and urgent war-related freight – a major contribution to the war effort.
These Catalinas were completely defenceless, carrying no weaponry, and with all armour plating removed so that the planes were sufficiently light to make the long crossing of more than 6480 km. In order to remain undetected by the Japanese, they flew by night using celestial navigation and without radio, except for a very brief midnight weather bulletin in Morse code. The average length of the flights was 28 hours. Because the journey was made by night, the crew and passengers saw the sun rise twice, hence the name 'Double Sunrise' service.
The Double Sunrise service still holds the record for the longest non-stop commercial air route and the record for the longest ever non-stop commercial flight – 32 hours 9 minutes. The last Double Sunrise flight departed from Sri Lanka for Perth on 17 July 1945.



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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Sep 21, 2014 at 19:50

Sunday, Sep 21, 2014 at 19:50
Thanks Doug, for another interesting article.

Stu & "Bob" - I have a copy of the 64 page booklet "Qantas Empire Airways - Indian Ocean Service - 1943-1946" - the story of the Qantas Catalinas and the Perth-Ceylon (Sri Lanka) regular air service during WW2.
It's a great book, it was produced as a limited edition, and it's very difficult to find copies of it today.
Geoff Goodall is apparently doing a long-term revision of the booklet with much more additional information.

Geoff Goodall's website and the Qantas Catalinas story
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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Sep 22, 2014 at 01:05

Monday, Sep 22, 2014 at 01:05
Anyone travelling near Swan Hill should make an effort to visit the museum. A morning or afternoon should be enough time. Part of the museum is the old radio and command building. They have attempted to recreate it as it looked during the war. There are plenty of other displays there and a good film about its operation during the war.

The caravan park is very nice with a fairly new amenities block. It stretches along the lake foreshore a little over 1 km from the museum. It's also close enough to Swan Hill to camp there for a day or two in that town.
PeterD
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 22, 2014 at 18:40

Monday, Sep 22, 2014 at 18:40
Spot on Peter, It is definitely worth a visit.
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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 22, 2014 at 18:52

Monday, Sep 22, 2014 at 18:52
Another good subject Doug.

Not far from there was a wartime airfield that reportedly had the longest runway in the southern hemisphere during WW2. It was a major flight training school I think.

It was at Tocumwal NSW, right on the Murray at the bottom of the Newell Highway, and was the home more recently for a glider training school. I think the Glider school ceased operations about 2008 or something.

Most of the old long runway is missing now but there were maps at the tourist info centre telling some of the story and a couple of other highlights in the area.

Cheers, Bruce.
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Sep 22, 2014 at 20:43

Monday, Sep 22, 2014 at 20:43
Thanks Bruce for your reply, yes it was an important site during WW2 with the RAAF B-24 Liberators using the airstrip, there was an investigation into irregular release of six practice bombs from Liberator S/n A72-44 on the 22 January 1945 near RAAF Station, Tocumwal , and unfortunately it was at Tocumwal where all the RAAF Liberators were chopped up after the war. This might lead to a future SHP in the future.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014 at 18:26

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014 at 18:26
Hi Doug,
You are obviously more knowledgeable regards Tocumwal than I gave you credit for Doug. I should have known that there would be little that escaped your investigations on such matters.

It is an interesting part of the world down there along the Murray. So much history of all
sorts.

With regard to chopping planes up, the uncle was and aircraft mechanic up in Darwin during WW2 and was severely injured while working on a kite. An explosion took half of his face away but he survived and lived on to 95 years of age. He often took up a kite after doing a service on it, especially spitfires as they were his favourites, but he was telling me that he could have bought a crated spitfire. complete and brand new, at the end of the war for 900 pounds.

It is a shame what was done during those times. I heard a fellow talking on the radio one day and he said he had been based at Rathmines near Newcastle and after the war the Catalina’s were sold for scrap and the blokes from Sims Metal, or whoever, got up on the wings with axes hacking the wings off and just walked from one aircraft to another along the wings hacking them off as they went. Sacrilegious I would think. But that is what happens.

Hope you are doing OK.
Cheers, Bruce.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014 at 18:53

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014 at 18:53
Bruce/Doug,

Your reference to axes and aircraft has prompted some memories for me too.

Back in late '50's, my old Dad was a boilermaker at a factory in the St Marys NSW industrial area. On odd occasions, I'd accompany him for the day, and wander around the factory without getting into too much trouble.

A factory next door had a number of aircraft, which were being broken up, and the aluminium smelted for re-use elsewhere. One of their favoured tools was a pipe handled axe, and not much else.

The aircraft were single engine, twin-seaters(inline), complete with all instrumentation, seats and decals still visible. Dad did mention what type of aircraft they were, but have long forgotten. Even then I thought what a waste.......but that's progress, eh.

Bob

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Can't remember most of it.

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