{RAAF No. 2 AIRFIELD CONSTRUCTION SQUADRON EAST SALE}
                                                                                  {FINAL CURTAIN DISBANDMENT}
After completing work at Butterworth, 2ACS was reformed at East Sale, Victoria on 1st August 1958. Group Captain Percival Lings resumed command from Wing Commander Ken James on 13th October and the squadron was initially tasked to develop its own infrastructure. Three Bellman hangars were used as building areas, and annexes built as offices for the workshop, administrative and technical staff. Civilian contractors moved the ex airmen's mess, which was modified to house the administrative, and construction sections. The diversion of approximately 80 men and equipment to supplement the strength of 5ACS detachment `A' at Williamtown delayed work at East Sale. However by February 1959 a works program had been submitted to the Department of Air and the winning of river gravel from sites at Stratford and Boisdale commenced. Operations from the former were marred by the injury of Aircraftman J.R. Fox on 18th January 1959, and his subsequent death in Base Hospital East Sale on the 21st. Fox was buried with full military HONOURS at the Sale Cemetery. Fox is a good example of the variety of background and experience of personnel attracted to service in construction squadrons. He had been appointed as a commissioned officer with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War and served as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. In 1941 Fox was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross whilst serving with 59 Squadron (RAF).'

2ACS's main task was to strengthen and lengthen East Sale's east west runway, and resurface the airfield pavements with an asphalt overlay. Work was scheduled to commence on 30th September 1959. Delay in completion of a similar project by 5ACS at Williamtown prevented the timely release of the 2ACS detachment personnel and specification changes made by the Department of Works called for the hiring of rollers from that Department to enable the new requirements to be met. It was obvious that the original completion date of 31st December 1960 would not be met. Many factors contributed to the inability to meet the original schedule: manning deficiencies in construction trades, above average rainfall, the non receipt of appropriate approvals to monies to be committed for additional works, and the age of equipment. For example, the tip trucks used dated back to 1942, and there was an embarrassing delay in replacing them with brand new International six wheel drive vehicles. To further complicate the situation, the squadron was tasked with the construction of concrete hardstands and taxiway extensions.

In August 1960 priority was given to the completion of an asphalt surface on the 90-degree runway for a distance of at least 1,372 metres. This had to be completed by 31st October to enable US Air Force U 2 aircraft to undertake `Operation Crowflight VI', gathering high altitude air samples south of Australia as part of an `international study into the rate of fall out in the upper atmosphere'. To meet the deadline the squadron as a whole worked a six day week; the asphalt section working an 11 hour day during August. The weather in the ensuing months was unfavourable. In October a concerted effort was made to meet the end of the month deadline; `plant serviceability was improved to the extent that a two shift six day week effort on asphalt laying [enabled] the target [to be met] one week ahead of schedule'. Richard Gurevitch and Gordon Worrall were two of the officers intimately involved with the process. After having placed the last load of hot mix on the site:

Richard and I decided to put on a few beers for the boys because of their great effort in getting the strip finished in time. I was just about to tell them to go to the site but when the Senior Works Officer, Squadron Leader John Lessels, turned up. Consumption of alcohol on the RAAF Base was forbidden except at the approved beer halls and messes, and these had long since closed. I was in a bind, as the guys were starting to wander off so I told John Lessels what was planned and invited him along. He then proceeded to read the riot act to me about contravening standing orders and expressly forbade me to have drinks on the Base. So I passed to the guys to hop into our two trucks and meet Richard and me a mile outside the gates of the RAAF Base. We then backed the two trucks together. My spotlight and a motorbike battery provided light, and we knocked off a few cases of cold beer. I'm sure John Lessels suspected that something was on but no one put him wise.

We kept a few coldies back and shared them with the roller crew when they finished rolling the hot mix at 4 am, so we did actually contravene standing orders by consuming alcohol on the Base.'

By the end of January 1959, 78 of the 118 married personnel serving with the squadron had been allocated a married quarters. This semblance of permanency was short lived. In January 1960 the commanders of 2ACS and 5ACSs were summoned to Department of Air for discussion on the reorganisation of the construction units, which was followed by another in May. On 23rd February 1960 it was planned to reduce 2ACS to a `name' basis by December 1960. This deadline was not met. In November 1960 Lings and the Senior Equipment Officer visited Darwin in January to discuss the disbandment of 2ACS and the amalgamation of the works force into a single unit.

Every effort was made to complete the work at East Sale before 2ACS was officially disbanded. However, there were some tasks which could not be completed by the given date, and 5ACS Detachment `C' was formed, with a strength of two officers and 62 airmen, to complete the task. The detachment completed the work allocated to it and was disbanded in September 1961.

Flight Lieutenant T.R. Rees supervised the disbandment of 2ACS. There is evidence of creative accounting during the process. Gordon Worrall was a member of a Board of Survey established to `write off' unserviceable equipment and recalls that `some of the items were sentenced so many times that I
soon got to recognise them as "old friends"'. It had been an unstable period for the members of the unit, and the disbandment ended on a sour note. Advice on the posting of personnel not remaining with the 5ACS detachment or the disbandment party was not received until the last working day of April   and then by telephone. The men and families involved could only interpret such thoughtless action as showing a lack of concern for the welfare.
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