Vernon Airfield was located at Mawaraka (Mawareka, Mawataka) on the southwest coast of Bougainville Island Borders Empress Augusta Bay to the west. Also known as "Vernon Strip".
Built by the Australian Army in a week, completed during February 1945. The small runway measured 900' x 40' and was surfaced with dirt with Marston Matting / Pierced Steel Planking (PSP) over top. During early March 1945, the runway was further expanded by Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) natives attached to the Australian Army, 3rd Division, Headquarters who laid addition Marston Matting to extend the runway.
Named in honor of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Flight Lieutenant Walter Vernon, Killed In Action (KIA) January 11, 1945 piloting a Boomerang A46-189 from 5 Squadron on a mission marking targets for RNZAF Corsairs at Mawaraka.
On February 19, 1945 the first aircraft to land at the new runway was Auster A11-8. After landing, he took of took off from Vernon Strip and dropped two messages to forward companies of troops. While landing at Vernon Strip, this plane ground loop, the first accident at the strip.
Used by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) by No. 17 Air Observation Post Flight (17 AOP) as a forward operating airfield to provide close air support for artillery spotting and message dropping in support of Australian Army soldiers in the area.
During 1945, four Taylorcraft Auster aircraft were damaged landing at Vernon Strip including: Auster A11-8 damaged February 19, 1945, Auster A11-10 damaged on landing February 24, 1945, Auster A11-3 damaged
on landing April 3, 1945, Auster A11-9 damaged on landing April 21, 1945.
WW2 Nominal Roll - Walter Ross Vernon
ADF Serials - RAAF A11 Taylorcraft Auster
The Hard Slog page 184
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October 23, 2019