5ACS AND 4ACS BIAK JANUARY 1945
In January 1945, 4ACS and 5ACS deployed to Biak Island which had been assaulted by the US Army 41st Division on 27th May 1944. The two squadrons sank wells for use by 105th and 132nd General Hospitals and 433rd Troop Carrier Group. In addition, they undertook road maintenance and supplied coral for use at the LST and Liberty ship dock, which was being constructed.
5ACS suffered four casualties in March. Leading Aircraftman J.A. Holdstock suffered a bullet wound when his own rifle discharged. On the 22nd Leading Aircraftman J.C. Payne died as a result of a motor vehicle accident, in which Corporal N.J. Scarsbrook and Leading Aircraftmen J.P. Smith and A.F. Bolden were injured. Ironically, during an air raid on the same night two sticks of bombs fell, one within 250 yards of the 5ACS night shift working on the Sorido airstrip without causing damage, and the second, aimed at the Mokmer airstrip, fell a mile from the camp.
EXTRACT FROM DON NORTHMORES RECOLLECTIONS
An incident occurred in March 1945, on Biak, which shook our complacency about the area being declared a "safe area". The Americans bad brought out W.A.C.'s (Women’s' Army Corps) personnel to relieve men for duty elsewhere.
One evening, when the airport terminal and the camps were a blaze of light, a
C54 transport, with landing lights on, approached the strips and radioed for landing permission. Unknown to the pilot and ground control, Japanese bombers had followed the transport in and therefore the radar blips were not considered "'hostile aircraft".
Suddenly, while writing a letter in my tent, the writer heard from what experience had taught, the cramp crump crump of a distant stick of bombs; I remember remarking on it to my tent mate, who scoffed at the idea. Then all hell broke loose as a stick of six bombs exploded on the opposite side of the strip. I dived for the main switch on the 5K.V.A. and, in the rush also pressed the ignition switch. As the load came on the motor and the lights died with the yells of "kill the lights" so the radio station went off the air. By switching off the motor, I had inadvertently put the station off the air and stopped communications for the time. Next day, I had to face the music:
Much damage and many casualties resulted from this raid, mounted as it was, with some skill by the Japs. How they managed to island hop from their bases in Borneo remains a mystery. One bomb landed in the middle of a volleyball match and the players and many spectators perished. Pieces of people were being picked up for hours next day. Fortunately, there were no R.A.A.F. casualties as far as is known. The lesson not to take things for granted was brought home when it was found that there were thirty-four killed and several aircraft destroyed.
Engineering construction by 4ACS and 5ACS was curtailed on 31st April and the units commenced loading their equipment aboard LSTs during the first week of May.