EXTRACT FROM DON NORTHMORES RECOLLECTIONS
N0. 1 M.W.S. (No. 5 M.W.S. later N0.5 A.C.S)
In the early months of 1942, when the Japanese military machine rolled southward, it became evident to the Australian War Cabinet that New Guinea and Australia were under serious threat of invasion. This fear was soon to be realised as the enemy attacked over the Owen Stanley Ranges and threatened Port Moresby, and their eastern assault on Milne Bay increased the danger.
At a meeting of senior Air force officers of the Air Hoard at H. Q. Pretoria Barracks, it was decided to loan an independent mobile works unit in order to carry out the necessary engineering services for the RAAF in the eosins action in the S.W. Pacific. The A. I. F. engineer component was fully committed and the project received urgent priority.
The new unit was named No. 1 Mobile, Works Squadron (5.W. F.) R.A.A.F and was formed from elements of the original No. 1 Special Works Force formed in Darwin earlier. Officers and men were assembled at the RAAF. Installation at the Royal, Agricultural Society Showground’s in Melbourne in June 1942, when Squadron leader T.M. Scott O.B.E. M.C. was appointed Commanding Officer, 22nd July 1942.
Mechanical equipment and transport were assembled and loaded on to Liberty Ships and the 200 men were given a quick rudimentary refresher course in small arms and instruction on the conditions and tasks ahead of them.
The original unit, No. 1 M.W.S. (S.W.F.) embarked on the Liberty Ship, S. S. "ABIEL FOSTER" on the 25th July, 1942, sailing from Melbourne on 28th July, for Port Moresby. In August, 1942, a further sixty men from the Showground’s embarked at Townsville on a Dutch vessel, the "Matsuka", bound for Port Moresby, to join No. 1 M.W.S.
The detachment, as it was called at first, on arrival in New Guinea, was immediately engaged upon construction of Wards Strip to allow our hard-pressed forces to have air cover and support at Kokoda, and beyond in the Own Stanley’s. At this time, the Japanese Air Forces were in the ascendancy, and the unit came under heavy bombing attacks, as the Japanese Command endeavored to neutralize Port Moresby and Milne Bay.
The task, under pressure of bombing attack, was completed in record, time, to the satisfaction of the Australian and U.S. Commands.
At Milne Bay, the Australian Militia under Gen. Cloves and the R.A.A.F. Kittyhawk fighter squadrons were successful in defeating the elite Japanese division which engaged them, relieving same of the pressure while the Coral Sea Battle began, when our ships and aircraft gave assistance to the U. S. navy in the crucial action.