Narromine Aerodrome is handed over to the RAAF in July 1940 for the establishment of No.5 Elementary Flying Training School. One of a dozen such schools around Australia forming part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, the school graduated 2,850 pilots during its four-year stay. Many would not return from later overseas service. Among Narromine’s more famous graduates were Rawdon Middleton VC, Len Waters, Ray Thorald-Smith DFC and Vic Guthre DFC AFC.
Local women form the Narromine Voluntary Aid Detachment of the Australian Red Cross. Over the next five years, they would assist at the RAFF base hospital in a variety of duties.
one of the more unusual vehicles to drive down Narromine’s Dandaloo Street is a twin-engine Beaufighter attack aircraft. The Beaufighter, paid for by the townspeople and given the name Narromine, is taxied from the aerodrome to the main street for public viewing. Pilot Rob Bowman then flies it north to the war zone in Morotai. Today, the museum displays the pilot’s control wheel from the aircraft.
Mosquito bombers of 618 Squadron, Royal Air Force, arrive at Narromine in January 1945. Its intended role was to attack Japanese shipping using Barnes Wallis’ spherical ‘bouncing bomb’, a smaller version of the Dambusters’ bomb. As events unfolded, the squadron did not use the bombs in action during its six months at Narromine.
Friday 27 July, horrified locals watch as a Mosquito fighter-bomber rolls onto its back low over the centre of town, and crashes in a fireball near the town saleyards. Its two crewmen, Squadron Leader ‘Sammy’ McGoldrick RAAF and his navigator Flight Lieutenant French RAF, are killed. Their graves can be seen at the War Graves section of Narromine Cemetery , 2km south of town.
After active service in the Borneo area, 93 Squadron RAAF brings its Beaufighters to Narromine in December 1945. Its role is to escort Mustang fighters to Japan as part of the occupation forces, the trip lasting from February to April 1946. The squadron disbands at Narromine in August that year. Here, navigator Ron Lecki (right) poses with his pilot before their Beaufighter at Narromine after the trip.