R.A.A.F. Bairnsdale – The story of a wartime airfield by Jim Prendergast.

Australian aviation history World War 11, 70th Anniversary limited edition.

Forward to Fourth Edition

RAAF Bairnsdale
Jim Prendergast

Since its first publication and reprint ten years later to coincide with the
50th anniversary of this wartime airfield, Jim Prendergast’s book
remains in high demand. I am delighted to be able to write a few words as
a new foreword for Jim’s excellent book covering the RAAF Bairnsdale story.

As the RAAF East Sale base squadron CO during the 5Oth anniversary
celebrations, I was able to participate in the launch of the second edition of
the book and attend the official opening of tle Beaufort Gardens Memorial
of which Baimsdale is so proud. I know the Gardens in particular were due
in no small way to Jim’s efforts, together with a small team of dedicated
volunteers, to bring it to fruition.

Jim’s association with the Baimsdale base goes back to 1943 when, as
a junior postal clerk, he saw firsthand the growth of this important wartime
training base. He, like many young lads was fascinated with all things flyng
and his love of aeroplanes continues to this day. That placed him in the
perfect position to later tell the story of the base and provide a legacy for
future generations so that the importance of the base would not be

From meagre beginnings carved out of farming paddocks, with picks and
shovels, RAAF Baimsdale grew steadily to host over IOO aircraft and 3,000
military and civilli€an personnel. It became vital for the training of RAAF
aircrew for the Pacific War and with that effort and the pressure to filI the
pilot, navigators and air gunner ranks came the inevitable accidents and
losses. A total of 191 men from airman to wing commander rank paid the
ultimate sacrifice, due in no small part from problems with the Beaufort
aircraft. The full story of that tragedy is covered by this book. Although the
RAAF moved its operations to East Sale in 1943, the base continued on as
the Baimsdale civilian aerodrome which is still used today.

Jim dedicates this book to the men and women who served at RAAF
Baimsdale, and I commend RAAF Bairnsdale: the Story of a Wartime
Aifield to you as a fitting tribute to their memory and as an important
contribution to Australia’s aviation history.

Mark Lax OAIyI, CSM
Air Commodore (Retd)
Former CO of RAAF East Sale


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