Friday 11 October 2013

Air Raid Shelter Sees Daylight

Air raid shelter trench showing concrete cap at Camden Airfield 2013 (I Willis)

  Air Raid Shelter Uncovered at Camden Airfield

A Second World War RAAF air raid shelter was recently uncovered at Camden Airfield. During the Second World War the shelter was located adjacent to the entry gate post to the airfield which was staffed by a sentry. 
The air raid trench was uncovered accidentally when a car parked on top of the concrete capping and fell into the trench. The airfield authorities then covered the trench, put warning tape and barricades around it. 
The airfield had a number of air raid shelters scattered across the grounds for airmen, ground staff and others. The airfield was controlled by the RAAF from 1940 to 1946, with RAF present from 1944 to 1946.
Air raid shelter trench showing concrete cap at Camden Airfield 2013 (I Willis)

 The dimensions of the uncovered air raid shelter trench were about 1.7 metres deep and about 800 mm wide. The trench was lined with hardwood timbers that were sleeper-like about 100mm x 250mm, about 1.8m long. They were secured by bolts at least 250mm long. The trench had a concrete cap about 100 thick.  The uncovered trench section was L-shaped about 2 metres x 2 metres with short extensions at right angles at either end.

Interior of air raid shelter trench with timber lining at Camden Airfield 2013 (I Willis)
The air raid shelter trench is an important remnant of the Second World War when the airfield was part of the air defence of the east coast of Australia.  The airfield has a number of intact Second World War infrastructure facilities including Bellman hangers, remnant positions for aircraft on the airfield perimeter, one accommodation hut, identifiable locations of other huts on the hillside and the parade ground,  as well as a  hanger from the Macquarie Grove Flying School in the 1930s.

The airfield is located north of the township of Camden on the Nepean River floodplain on a the eastern side of the river on a sweeping bend. It is located on what was formerly the pastoral property of Macquarie Grove, owned and managed by Edward Macarthur Onslow, who established the Macquarie Grove Flying School in the 1930s. The main runway runs north-east by south-west and is constrained by adjacent hills and the river.

The airfield is currently owned and operated by a consortium called Sydney Metro Airport, which also controls Bankstown Airfield. 

Read more @ Camden History Journal of the Camden Historical Society,  March 2013,  for the history of the Macquarie Grove Flying School written by Annette Macarthur Onslow.

Articles from Camden History on Camden Airfield in wartime include:
Ian Willis, Bellman Hangars, Camden Airfield, Vol 2,  p.361; 
Ian Willis,  'Central Flying School RAAF, Camden Airfield 1940-1945', Vol 2. p. 287;
Ian Willis, '32 Squadron RAAF, Camden Airfield, 1942-1944', Vol 2, p. 295;
Ian Willis, 'US Air Force and Camden Airfield', Vol 2, p. 293;

Ian Willis, Camden at war- Second World War 1939-1945 a brief overview, Vol 1, pp156-174.
A short history of the Sydney Morning Herald Flying Service at Camden Airfield  is contained in Victor Isaacs, How We Got the News, Newspaper Distribution in Australia and New Zealand, Australia Newspaper History Group, Andergrove, Qld, 2008.
And also Bert Watson's Camden Aero Club, A History, Camden, Camden Aero Club, 1992.
Details of Camden History @
Camden History Available at the Camden Museum, John Street, Camden.  Contact secretary (at)  P: 02 4655 3200 (Thurs-Sun, 11-4)


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