The MONAB Story

A history of the mobile airfields of the Royal Navy

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The Mobile Naval Airfields Organisation


First MONAB dispatched overseas

The vehicles, stores and equipment of MONAB I & II departed by road and rail for Liverpool docks during the 18th - 20th of November, in preparation for embarkation and passage to Australia. According to the M.N.A.O. timetable both units should be fully manned, equipped and worked up by this time, the reality was that both units were missing key personnel, several vehicles, a/c spares, tools, together with many other items of their scale of issue which Ludham was unable to furnish. The units were instructed to complete their scales of issue by drawing on naval and air store stocks held in Australia. The personnel of MONAB I sailed on the Troopship EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND on November 20th, MONAB II personnel remained in the UK for another month, making their passage with MONAB III in December.

The stores & equipment of MONAB III were despatched overnight on December 2nd, destined for Gladstone Docks, Liverpool for embarkation; the unit commissioned as an independent command at Ludham on December 4th bearing the ship's name H.M.S. NABTHORPE, Commander (A) E.W. Kenton R.N.V.R. in command. The same day personnel for Transportable Aircraft Maintenance Yard No. 1 (TAMY 1) began to assemble at Ludham.

TAMY 1 was to face the same formation problems as the previous units, especially those experienced by MONAB II. Ludham, having reached, and exceeded its capacity in November, found that accommodating three complete MONABs was an unacceptable situation. Although by the time TAMY 1 began to assemble in early December there were only MONAB IV and the personnel of MONABs II & III remaining, there would still not be adequate room to house the considerably larger elements of a TAMY. Therefore, formation of TAMY 1 was to be split in the same manner as MONAB II, the HQ component formed at Ludham and the technical components at HMS Gosling. This division of the unit caused many of the same problems that befell MONAB II.

On December 18th 1944 Lieutenant Commander J. Parkinson R.N.V.R. assumed command of MONAB III temporarily relieving Commander Kenton who was to travel by air as part of an advance party of senior officers. Personnel of MONABs II & III embarked for passage to Australia at Liverpool December 22nd. Their place was soon taken by the personnel for MONAB V which began to assemble from December 28th; this was the first type B MONAB to be assembled.

MONAB IV commissioned as an independent command on New Year’s Day 1945, bearing the ship's name H.M.S. NABARON, Captain A.N.C. Bingley O.B.E. RN, in command

On January 11th 1945 a second change in tasking resulted in MONAB V having its component allocation revised, the Mobile Repair components were withdrawn, being replaced with two Maintenance, Storage & Reserve (MSR) components. This resulted in the unit being changed from a type B MONAB to a hybrid, neither type A nor B but somewhere in between.

The equipment and personnel of MONAB IV were transported to Liverpool for embarkation and passage to Australia on January 16th.

On February 1st 1945 both TAMY 1 and MONAB V commissioned as independent commands at Ludham; TAMY 1 bearing the ship’s name H.M.S. NABSFORD, Lieutenant Commander B. J. L. Rogers-Tillstone in command and. MONAB V bearing the ship’s name H.M.S. NABSWICK, Captain H.G. Dickinson D.S.C. RN in command.

The personnel & equipment of both MONAB V & TAMY 1 departed for Gladstone docks, Liverpool, on February 16th to embark for passage to Australia. Most of the MONABs did not know their operational base until after arrival in Australia but TAMY 1 was destined for Brisbane, Queensland, to be installed at Archerfield, a joint civil/Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) airfield.


Mobile Naval Airfields Organisation Headquarters moves to Middle Wallop, Hampshire

The Admiralty's search for Ludham's replacement had resulted in the Air Ministry offering to swap RAF Middle Wallop for Ludham. The Admiralty accepted because Middle Wallop better met the requirements of a MONAB formation & despatch station, it was more centrally located, had better road & rail links and its layout was of a more conventional type

With the departure of both MONAB V & TAMY 1 HMS FLYCATCHER paid off at RNAS Ludham on February 16th 1945. The MMAO transferred to RNAS Middle Wallop, the station being transferred from No.70 Group. RAF to Admiralty control the same day, and commissioned as HMS. FLYCATCHER. The M.N.A.O., having operated at Ludham under less than ideal conditions took a little time to settle in to its new home before work commenced on assembling MONAB VI, however men ear marked for this unit began to arrive within the week.

MONAB VI began its assembly period on March 1st; the unit having six weeks to complete its assembly and be ready for despatch overseas, however, as before, this was to prove insufficient time. In 4½ months of operations the M.N.A.O. had learned few lessons; most of the problems encountered by the units assembling at Ludham persisted. The main problem areas being; stores were received late, were either of the wrong type, or, were out of date. Also motor vehicles were slow in arriving and personnel drafted as drivers for them had little or no experience of heavy plant.

MONAB VII began assembling from March 18th 1945, this was to be a second Receipt and Despatch MONAB for operations in the forward area, it differed slightly from MONAB II, assembling as a standard type A unit with aircraft erection, modification, equipping and storage elements added. No M.S.R components were included in the unit make up.

MONAB VI commissioned April 1st 1945 as an independent command bearing the ships name HMS NABSTOCK, Captain. H.V.P. McClintock D.S.C. in command. The unit sailed for Australia on April 22nd.

MONAB VIII began to assemble May 1st 1945, this was designated a Fighter support MONAB, essentially no different from a standard type A MONAB which would support both fighters and torpedo bombers, but its scale of issue excluded tools and spares for non-fighter aircraft types

&MONAB VII Commissioned on June 1st 1945 as an independent command bearing the ship's name HMS NABREEKIE, Captain. F.P. Frai RNVR in command. The personnel and equipment were transported to Liverpool for embarkation in two stages, the first group by rail on June 17th, embarking in the Troopship STIRLING CASTLE on arrival, she sailed for Australia on June 21st. The second group accompanied the vehicle convoy which travelled overnight from Middle Wallop on 19th/20th; after leaving the convoy at a marshalling yard outside Liverpool they embarked in the Troopship ANDES which sailed from Liverpool on June 29th.

MONAB VIII took the unprecedented step of a trial run camp between 8 - 11 June to prepare the advance party for the tasks and previously reported problems they would face in setting up the unit at its operational base. This trial camp took place at Cranford, not far from Middle Wallop, and involved 12 Officers and 110 ratings, whilst there they erected Best Burkle Tents, Dorland Hangers and other equipment which required assembly before use. MONAB VIII Commissioned July 1st 1945 as an independent command bearing the ship's name HMS NABCATCHER, Captain. V.N. Surtees DSO, in command.

The personnel for MONAB IX began to assemble in July; like MONAB VIII this was tasked to support Fighter aircraft only. It is not known if this unit undertook a trial installation. MONAB VIII sailed for Australia together with M.S.R. 9, on July 7th. The heavy equipment of MONAB IX sailed for Australia together with M.S.R. 10, on July 20th. MONAB X began assembling on July 23rd 1945.

MONAB IX Commissioned on August 1st 1945 as an independent command bearing the ship's name HMS NABROCK, Captain. J.S.C. Salter DSC, OBE, in command.


Victory over Japan and the cancellation of further units

The surrender of Japan on August 15th brought a halt to operations at Middle Wallop whist the Admiralty reviewed the programme of formations and despatches. Officers and men of Mobile units on the station were sent on short home leave whilst these decisions were made. MONAB IXs departure was delayed by 10 days, personnel and remaining stores & equipment sailing for Australia August 31st. The personnel for MONAB XI began to arrive during August but assembly was put on hold after V.J. day.

MONAB X Commissioned September 1st 1945 as an independent command bearing the ship's name HMS NABHURST, Commander T.S. Jackson in command. Being no longer needed for service overseas MONAB X paid off on October 12th 1945 at Middle Wallop, the unit’s equipment together with M.R. 4 were retained on Care & Maintenance for future use. MONABs XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV and a proposed second TAMY were all cancelled.


 Post-War operations »

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Planning, assembly, equipping, and formation of mobile airfield units in the UK, and their despatch to their operational locations.

Initially on books of 'PRESIDENT'

commencing 10 September 1943 occupying dispersed offices within the Admiralty

Commissioned as independent command

04 September 1944as 'FLYCATCHER' at RNAS Ludham

16 February 1945 as 'FLYCATCHER' at RNAS Middle Wallop

Paid Off as independent command: 10 April 1946 

Accounts carried on books of 'FULMAR'

7 Jul1y 946  as M.N.A.O., later renamed M.D.U. (MONAB Development Unit) Accommodated at RNAS Lossiemouth, disbanded c.1955


Commanding Officers

Colonel J.M. Fuller R.M. (S.O.M.N.A.O.)
10 September 1943 to 04 September 1944

Commander (A) J. B. Wilson (S.O.M.N.A.O. & C.O.)
04 September 1944 to 01 November 1944

Captain L. J. S. Ede (S.O.M.N.A.O. & C.O.)

01 November 1944 to 10 April 1946





Related items

R.N.A.S. Ludham 
R.N.A.S. Middle Wallop
R.N.A.E. Risley
R.N.A.S. Lossiemouth
R.N.A.S. Milltown
R.N.A.S. Henstridge
Histories of these establishments and other information are part of the Fleet Air Arm Bases web site





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