Extract from "SGT's Story" By Eric Edwards No. 7ACS Works Supervisor
{RAAF No.7 MWS / AIRFIELD CONSTRUCTION SQUADRON}
{WE PREPARED THE WAY
I WAS AT NADZAB, NEW GUINEA IN FEBRUARY 1944. WHEN A FELLOW MEMBER OF OUR UNIT SHOWED ME AN ARTICLE WRITTEN IN A NEWSPAPER IN TASMANIA. HE SAID, "THERE ARE NO NAMES MENTIONED BUT I THINK IT IS ABOUT. OUR UNIT”, AND AFTER READING IT I AGREED WITH HIM. IT WAS HEADED "THEY ARE THE FRONT LINE TROOPS OF THE RAAF". AND IT WENT ON TO SAY" THESE MEN WERE RECRUITED FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE, SOME PROFESSIONAL MEN SUCH AS CIVIL ENGINEERS, SURVEYORS ETC AND MEN FROM TRADES SUCH AS WORKS SUPERVISORS, DOZER DRIVERS, PLANT OPERATORS, MECHANICS (PETROL AND DIESEL) CARPENTERS, SAW MILLERS, PLUMBERS ELECTRICIANS, DRIVERS, MOTOR TRANSPORT, COOKS, MEDICAL ORDERLIES, CLERKS AND LABORERS. THEY WERE TRAINED AND MOLDED INTO A COMPETENT AND EFFICIENT UNIT CALLED A MOBILE WORKS SQUADRON. THE MEN DID NOT LIKE THIS NAME, AS IT SOUNDED MORE LIKE A LABOUR BATTALION. IT WAS LATER CHANGED TO A.C.S., (AIRFIELD CONSTRUCTION SQUADRON), THIS WAS NOT QUITE ACCURATE AS WE ALSO BUILT WHARVES, ROADS, BRIDGES, SLIP WAYS, AND HOUSES AND EVEN SAW MILLS TO CUT OUR OWN TIMBER (FERGUSON ISLAND AND NADZAB). WE WERE ACTUALLY "ENGINEERS" AS NAMED BY OUR ARMY AND THE AMERICANS BUT THE RAAF SEEMED TO THINK THIS COULD BE CONFUSED WITH THE MECHANICS DEALING WITH AIRPLANE ENGINES. THESE SQUADRONS WERE RATHER FORTUNATE IN SECURING HEAVY EQUIPMENT FROM THE AMERICANS, SUCH AS A PILE DRIVER WITH WHICH WE BUILT TWO FULL SIZE WHARVES AT, GOODENOUGH ISLAND, A LIBERTY SHIP COULD WORK ALL HOLDS AT ONCE, AT ALL TIMES AS THE DEPTH OF WATER WAS, AT LEAST 30 FEET AT LOW TIDE, USED MAINLY BY ADMIRAL HALSEY'S MARINES, COMING OVER FROM GUADALCANAL IN LIBERTY SHIPS, WERE TRANSSHIPPED INTO L.S.T.'S (LANDING SHIPS TANK) FOR THEIR INVASION NORTHWARDS. ALSO A LARGE STONE CRUSHER WITH WHICH WE CRUSHED RIVER STONES, TO MAKE BLUE METAL WHICH WITH BITUMEN TAR, WE SEALED OUR STRIPS IN NADZAB, No. 4, NEWTON FIELD, MAKING THEM WEATHER PROOF AND SUPERIOR TO THE AMERICAN STRIPS EVEN AFTER THEY HAD COVERED THEM WITH METAL STRIPPING. THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE MENTIONED THE FIRST MAJOR ADVANCE IN THE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC AREA WAS WHEN THE M.W.S.'S, MOVED OUT TO GOODENOUGH ISLAND, KIRIWINA ISLAND AND WOODLARK ISLAND, MAKING THEM THE CLOSEST' ALLIED AIR FIELDS TO RABAUL. WE HAD THE SUPPORT OF AUSTRALIAN COMMANDOS. THE NEWSPAPER WROTE UP A VERSE BY THE EVER PRESENT POET "WE ARE THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH" AND FINISHED UP, "WE KEEP OUR MACHINES WORKING, MAKING SURE THEY DO NOT RUST", AND THAT IS NOW OUR MOTTO "TOKYO OR BUST". THE NEWSPAPER COMMENT WAS "THEY CERTAINLY HAVE THE RIGHT SPIRIT". WHAT THEY DID NOT KNOW WAS THAT MANY OF THE MEN OPERATING THE BIG DOZERS, SCOOPS, GRADERS, ROLLERS, ETC WERE ONLY GETTING 6/6 PER DAY AS THEIR RE-MUSTERINGS HAD NOT COME THROUGH. THESE MEN WORKED 20 SHIFTS (OF 8 HOURS) PER WEEK, THE MACHINES ONLY STOPPED FOR EIGHT HOURS FROM MIDNIGHT SUNDAY UNTIL 8 AM MONDAY, FOR SERVICING BY THE FITTERS. IT CAN BE IMAGINED WHAT NERVE AND PATIENCE WAS REQUIRED BY THESE MEN, THROUGH AIR RAIDS, HEAT, DUST, FUMES, MUD, DISEASE (MALARIA, DENGUE, DYSENTERY AND EVEN SCRUB TYPHUS, AND VERY POOR FOOD, EITHER CANNED OR DEHYDRATED. AND WORST OF ALL NO LEAVE FOR AT LEAST 18 MONTHS. THE M.W.S.’S BUILT STRIPS ETC FROM DARWIN, PORT MORESBY, MILNE BAY, GOODENOUGH KIRIWINA WOODLARK NADZAB, AND THEN FROM AITAPE THROUGH TO BALIKPAPAN WHERE THEY WERE WHEN 'THE JAPS SURRENDERED. THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO LET IT BE KNOWN ABOUT THE M.W.S.’S WHO DID SO MUCH TO SAVE AUSTRALIA FROM THE MURDEROUS DAPS. AUSTRALIAN WAR MUSEUM 89/0929. THIS ACCOUNT WAS WRITTEN TO LET OUR PEOPLE KNOW OF THESE UNITS AND OF THE WORK THEY DID AND THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH THEY WORKED. THEY DID NOT RECEIVE TICKER TAPE WELCOME HOME AND HAD TO SERVE AT LEAST SIX MONTHS IN A BATTLE AREA BEFORE BEING AWARDED THE 1939 45 STAR AND THE SOUTH PACIFIC STAR. THIS ACCOUNT HAS. BEEN ACCEPTED BY THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MUSEUM NUMBER 89/0929 RAAF HISTORICAL SECTION, WORLD WAR TWO. A SOBERING THOUGHT IS THAT IF OUR MIGHTY ALLIE, AMERICA, AND WE HAD NOT STOPPED THE JAPS SOUTHWARD DRIVE, OUR CITIES WOULD HAVE. BEEN SUBJECT TO THE SAME TREATMENT AS NAN KING, MURDER, RAPE, PILFERING AND FIRE, OUR MEN SERVING OVERSEAS WOULD NOT HAVE HAD A HOME TO WHICH TO RETURN, A SOBERING THOUGHT.
7ACS HOMEPAGE
7MWS GOODENOUGH