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HistoryVP-21 HistoryHistory

Circa 1939

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...25SEP39 - VP-21 arrives at Manila, P.I.; it will be tended by USS Langley (AV-3), which arrived the previous day..." WebSite: HyperWar http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/USN-Chron/USN-Chron-1939.html [14SEP2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...19SEP39 - VP-21 (PBYs), assigned to the Asiatic Fleet to provide aerial reconnaissance capability to safeguard the neutrality of the Philippines, departs Pearl Harbor for Manila, P.I. The squadron will fly via Midway, Wake, and Guam (see 25 September). Seaplane tender (destroyer) Childs (AVD-1) will provide support at Wake, the least developed place on the movement westward..." WebSite: HyperWar http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/USN-Chron/USN-Chron-1939.html [14SEP2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...21 SEP 39 - VP-21, with 14 PBY aircraft, took off from Pearl Harbor, T.H., for the Philippines via Midway, Wake and Guam, and with its arrival became the first patrol unit in the Asiatic Fleet since 1932. This squadron and another which arrived later the next year, were the nucleus of Patrol Wing 10, formed in the Philippines in December 1940..." http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/PART04.PDF [28MAY2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...I am an aviation historian resident in a suburb of Perth, Western Australia. I am preparing a Masters thesis titled "The Air War in Western Australia 1939-1945". From March 1942 to August 1944 we had Patrol Wing Ten (Fleet Air Wing Ten from 01 NOV 42) based at Crawley on the Swan River, near Perth. PWTen appears to have doubled as a training and local patrol unit, with patrol squadrons being rotated as the war in the Southwest Pacific progressed. From the Wing's War Diary I have ascertained that the following squadrons were present at Crawley: VP-101 (includes merged VP-21, VP-22 and VP-102 after the evacuation of Java in MAR 42), VP-11, VP-33, VP-34, VP-52. After FAWTen left Perth in AUG 44, a utility training unit, VS-61 continued until well into 1945. I am seeking information on these squadrons when they were in Western Australia. I know of their bases at Geraldton and Exmout Gulf (POTSHOT) but I have a problem with the mobile base, "Heron Haven". I have a copy of Messimer's "In the Hands of Fate" and a few other published references, so have an overall picture. Any help would be appreciated..." Contributed by Lindsay J. Peet (Mr.) ppeetlj@ic-net.com.au [22JUL98]

UPDATE "...Lindsay, Since our recent communication I have delved into the matter of Heron Haven, and have enjoyed doing so.

Since my interest begins with aircraft and their squadrons, I approached this exercise from an "aircraft on aggressive ops. using Seaplane Tenders" point of view. This allowed me to rule out some matters, such as :---

  • 1 Regular seaplane patrols from such as Geraldton.
  • 2 Seaplane mine laying ops from West Bay in Napier Broome Bay which began 17Nov44.

    I set aside some matters temporarily, being :---
  • 1 The seven and then five USN PBY flying Crawley to Townsend Haven to Darwin in Jun43.
  • 2 The joined usage of "Townsend Haven(Heron Haven)".

    I then found that only RAAF Catalinas were thereafter used on aggressive ops from [or returning to] WA advanced bases in my search timeframe and area. I shall list these under "locality" headings, of which there are just three, being
  • 1 Exmouth Gulf
  • 2 Cygnet Bay
  • 3 Yampi Sound
    Exmouth Gulf.

    In Aug43 and Nov43, RAAF Catalinas did mining sorties to Soerabaya Harbour. They flew Darwin, Soerabaya, Heron Haven for fuel, then return to Darwin.

    In both months, tender Preston is mentioned for refuelling.

    Pilot Honan was on the Nov43 Sortie, describes his career in book "That's That", clearly states Heron Haven was at Exmouth Gulf, shows it so on a map.

    Cygnet Bay.

    In Jan44, RAAF investigated Cygnet Bay for use by mine laying Catalinas. It was accepted for RAAF use, perhaps because of radar station at Cape Leveque and protective airfield at Derby. Tidal mudflats were a problem.

    Tender Preston laid moorings and supported the Catalinas. The sorties were flown Cygnet Bay - Balikpapan - Cygnet Bay.

    Cygnet Bay was used only once for RAAF ops, for a set of three mine laying sorties to Balikpapan on 20, 22, and 24Feb44.

    Yampi Sound. [Codename "Shecat"]

    In Apr44 Yampi Sound was selected as advanced base for more minelaying ops to Balikpapan. A radar station was at Cockatoo Island. Tender Childs set the moorings.

    A set of three ops were done this month, flying Yampi Sound - Balikpapan - Yampi Sound.

    More sets of ops were done from Yampi Sound in May, June, and July44, to Balikpapan and to Soerabaya.

    After Jul44, no more aggressive Catalina ops were done from WA coast until West Bay came into use.

    *****************

    So, from the above, I'm happy that Heron Haven was a "common usage" name for Exmouth Gulf, and only Exmouth Gulf. I can't see it as a formal "code name" since it could relate to the operational vessel USS Heron. I see there is a "Heron Point" adjacent Learmonth in Exmouth Gulf.

    Heron may have done a reconnaisance to Cygnet Bay in early Jun43, prior to the VP-101 flights to Darwin in Jun43. As for Heron's dalliance in the Dampier Archipeligo, perhaps the fishing was good. Where was General Blamey just then? No jest!

    There is a "Townshend River" at Cygnet Bay. Perhaps it was Cygnet Bay, by whatever name, where the USN Catalinas refuelled on their way to Darwin in Jun43. Perhaps the USN avoided Exmouth Gulf in Jun43 as the Japanese bombed there [no physical damage] in May43, after which the submarine base was closed.

    I would love to read about the VP-101 flights in context, would appreciate any info you might be able to provide...

    Hope this helps, best wishes, Bruce G..." Contributed by Wynnum B Graham wbg@bigpond.com [26AUG98]

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "00OCT39--VP 21 arrives in Philippines..." http://www.halisp.net/listserv/pacwar/1314.html

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Circa 1939 AIRCRAFT SCOUTING FORCE - Rear Admiral A. B. Cook - MEMPHIS (CL-13) - CAPTAIN S. A. Manahan..." Contributed by John Lucas john.lucas@netzero.net [15DEC98]

    PATROL WING ONE - CAPTAIN C. P. Mason

    TENDERS

    USS WRIGHT (AV-1) - CDR W. K. Harrill
    USS PELICAN (AVP-6) - LT H. J. Dyson
    USS AVOCET (AVP-4) - LT J. M. Carson

    SQUADRONS

    VP-11 - LCDR F. T. Ward, Jr.
    VP-12 - LCDR A. C. Olney, Jr.
    VP-13 - LCDR S. H. Ingersoll

    PATROL WING TWO - Rear Admiral Arthur L. Bristol

    TENDERS

    USS LANGLEY (AV-3) - CDR A. C. Davis
    USS CHILDS (AVP-14) - LCDR H. F. Fick
    USS SWAN (AVP-7) - LT J. F. Greenslade

    SQUADRONS

    VP-21 - Cmdr. S. L. LaHache
    VP-22 - LCDR W. P. Cogswell
    VP-23 - LCDR G. Van Deurs
    VP-24 - LCDR D. C. Allen
    VP-25 - LCDR A. R. Brady


    Circa 1937

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History of FAW-2 - History of Headquarters Squadron Fleet Air Wing Three - History: 01OCT37 - 15MAY45 . Squadron's Assigned: VP-1, VP-4, VP-6, VP-8, VP-10, VP-13, VP-16, VP-21, VP-22, VP-23, VP-24, VP-25, VP-26, VP-27, - Submitted July 5, 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [24NOV2012]

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