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Royal New Zealand Air Force

reorganisation in 1944

reorganisation in 1944

The year 1944 saw a steady building up of RNZAF strength in the Pacific, the further recession of the danger of a Japanese attack on New Zealand, and the cessation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. As a consequence, by the end of the year the whole objective of the service was the support of the squadrons in the Pacific area. The need for local defence measures was eliminated, and the flying training organisation could be greatly reduced. At the same time, however, the demand for technical and page 287 administrative personnel fit for tropical service increased. These factors produced a considerable change in the organisation of the Air Force during the year.

The three Group Headquarters, which had been formed to meet operational requirements, were abolished. Central Group had in fact been suspended in October 1943, and its functions shared between Air Headquarters and the other two groups. Northern and Southern Groups were disbanded in October 1944, when the need for their existence had long since passed.

During the year there was a general pruning and consolidation of home establishments, and stations were closed down as they became redundant. Seagrove was closed down in January, when No. 25 Squadron left to go overseas, and became a satellite landing ground for Ardmore. The next to go was Omaka. The NCOs' School had been moved to Levin at the end of August 1943 and replaced by the Officers' School of Instruction. In April 1944, when accommodation became available at Levin, the Officers' School of Instruction moved back there and Omaka closed down. For the rest of the war the buildings were used as a storage depot for RNZAF supplies in the Blenheim area. Waipapakauri was reduced in July to the status of an emergency landing ground, although refuelling, wireless, and meteorological services were carried on for some time on a reduced scale. Gisborne, which had been the training ground for Nos. 30 and 31 TBF Squadrons, was occupied from June to October by No. 2 (BR) Squadron, which was reforming and refitting after an overseas tour. When the squadron left in the latter month for another tour, the station was disbanded.

The reduction of the flying training organisation in the last quarter of the year resulted in Ashburton being closed down, the pupils of No. 2 EFTS being absorbed by No. 3 EFTS at Harewood. No. 1 EFTS at Taieri was disbanded, and its place was taken by a Grading School and by the Initial Training Wing transferred from Delta. No. 2 SFTS, Woodbourne, was also disbanded and was amalgamated with No. 1 SFTS at Wigram. Delta was progressively closed down as its commitments were reduced, and the process was complete by January 1945. When the SFTS moved from Woodbourne it was possible to concentrate there the units at Levin and Tauranga, and these two stations were closed at the end of the year.

A new station was formed in Auckland, using accommodation which had been built at Remuera for an American Base Hospital. It housed No. 1 Port Depot, and absorbed the Personnel Reception Depot at Mangere, which was disbanded, and became responsible for the movement of all personnel and cargo into and out of New Zealand through Auckland. One other station was formed during page 288 the year: the Accommodation Camp at Anderson Park, Wellington. Like Remuera, it took over buildings which had been put up by the Americans as a hospital. It was used to accommodate as many as possible of the 1300-odd personnel working in Air Headquarters, who had previously been living in the city, some at Rongotai and the rest at various hostels and private lodgings.

The disbandment of stations and consolidation of establishments during the year resulted in a substantial saving of manpower in administrative trades, and the reduction in the flying training organisation released several hundred technical tradesmen. These savings, however, were counter-balanced by the increasing demand for fit men to serve in the Pacific theatre.