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Cocos (Keeling) Islands - WWII Aerodrome


Australian Territory
Cocos (Keeling) Islands - Western Australia
Cocos Keeling Islands WWII Aerodrome

World War II in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands:
After the Fall of Singapore in 1942, the islands were administered from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and West and Direction Islands were placed under Allied military administration. The islands' garrison initially consisted of a platoon from the British Army's King's African Rifles, located on Horsburgh Island, with two 6-inch (152.4 mm) guns to cover the anchorage. The local inhabitants all lived on Home Island. Despite the importance of the islands as a communication centre, the Japanese made no attempt either to raid or to occupy them and contented themselves, with sending over a reconnaissance aircraft about once a month.
On the night of 8–9 May 1942, 15 members of the garrison, from the Ceylon Defence Force, mutinied, under the leadership of Gratien Fernando. The mutineers were said to have been provoked by the attitude of their British officers and were also supposedly inspired by anti-imperialist beliefs. They attempted to take control of the gun battery on the islands. The Cocos Islands Mutiny was crushed, but the mutineers killed one non-mutinous soldier and wounded one officer. Seven of the mutineers were sentenced to death at a trial that was later alleged to have been improperly conducted. Four of the sentences were commuted, but three men were executed, including Fernando. These were to be the only British Commonwealth soldiers executed for mutiny during the Second World War.
On 25 December 1942, the Japanese submarine I-166 bombarded the islands but caused no damage.
Later in the war, two airstrips were built (the island’s labour force and inhabitants were Tamils and Malays who produced copra and oil from the palms that cover the island. SEAC Command chose the largest of the Cocos Islands called West Island to construct an airstrip long enough to allow the landings and take offs of large aircraft. Unobtrusively, in 1944, the Royal Engineers of the X1Vth Army moved in units, by sea, onto West Island, equipped with what was very modern equipment then: Bulldozers, rollers and scrapers. When they had cleared the island of most of it’s palms they laid ‘Pierced Steel Planks’ (PSB) to create the runway), and three bomber squadrons were moved to the islands to conduct raids against Japanese targets in South East Asia and to provide support during the planned reinvasion of Malaya and reconquest of Singapore. The runway was tested by a Consolidated (amphibious) Catalina and found to be short so was extended further to 2,000 yards and completed on time in early 1945. The Catalina belonged to 321 Squadron. The first aircraft to arrive were Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIIIs of No. 136 Squadron RAF. They included some Liberator bombers from No. 321 (Netherlands) Squadron RAF (members of exiled Dutch forces serving with the Royal Air Force), which were also stationed on the islands. When in July 1945 No. 99 (29 July - 15 Nov '45) and No. 356 RAF squadrons (22 July - 15 Nov '45) arrived on West Island, they brought with them a daily newspaper called Atoll which contained news of what was happening in the outside world. Run by airmen in their off-duty hours, it achieved fame when dropped by Liberator bombers on POW camps over the heads of the Japanese guards. In 1946 the administration of the islands reverted to Singapore.

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  • Model Number: aviC11
  • 56 Units in Stock

This product was added to our catalog on Monday 19 March, 2012.

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