Airforce at Lowood: No 23 Squadron to mark 75th anniversary

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In 1944, No 23 Squadron (RAAF) departed RAAF Station Lowood near Ipswich for Nadzab Airfield in Papua New Guinea for air combat operations flying Vultee Vengeance dive bombers. Aircrews were actively engaged in strike and bombing operations along the Markham Valley, Saidor, Madang, and Alexishafen.

75 years later, the squadron plans to commemorate this deployment to PNG with a ceremony on November 2 at at the Memorial on the site of the World War II airstrip.

RAAF Station Lowood was constructed in late 1941 for No 12 Elementary Flying Training School. It was used by two US Army Air Force fighter squadrons in early 1942, before becoming a RAAF operational base for dive bombers.

After World War II the single sealed runway and its taxiway circuit were used for motor racing, before the runway was redeveloped as Daisy Road.

The airfield was bounded by Forest Hill-Fernvale Road, Coominya Connection Road, Mount Tarampa Road and McCarthy Road, while dispersal taxiways and nine dive bomber hideouts were located north of Pakleppa Lane and around a circuit between Mount Tarampa road and Watsons Road.

Another taxiway circuit linked both ends of the runway to the tarmac area next to four Bellman hangars at the southwest side of the airfield. Some sections of taxiway and most of the runway are now used as roads, while unused sections of the runway and taxiways are still visible.

The concrete slabs of the four Bellman hangars and some camp buildings are also visible on aerials, as are the sites of bomb dumps on the west side of Mount Tarampa.

No 23 Squadron Association will conduct a service to mark the anniversary on the corner of Daisy Road and Forest Hill Fernvale Road, Tarampa.

Association president Herbert Snide will host the event with the support of Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graham Lehmann and the Commanding Officer of 23 Squadron Wing Commander Mark Thompson. The event will commence at 11am.

As there were many USAAF personnel stationed at Lowood from 1942, the president of the 8th USAAF Fighter Group (the Headhunters) Association, Lieutenant Colonel Bob McNeese will unveil a plaque in remembrance.

There will be an opportunity to lay wreaths in remembrance.
Members of the Association, family, friends as well as the general public are invited to attend.