What's in a Name
DOG (Base) 1942-44
Exmouth Gulf was used as a US Navy Air Patrol Base during 1942-44.
The base was serviced by 3 ships, USS Heron, USS Preston and USS Childs. Catalina aircraft flown by the US Navy Patrol Wing 10 Squadron flew on reconnaissance missions out of the Gulf, patrolling from as far north as Derby to west into the Indian Ocean. Sadly, 7 US pilots lost their lives in the area after their aircraft crashed.
Located 34km south of Exmouth on the Exmouth Minilya Rd. Named after Wing Commander Charles Cuthbertson Learmonth, a WW II pilot, the RAAF base was an operational air base during World War II. Charles Learmonth died a hero near Rottnest Island in January 1944. Instead of bailing out he remained in his bomber radioing events until it hit the water. This act of courage helped explain several earlier accidents and enabled experts to eliminate the cause. Extensions to the base and airfield commenced in 1970 by the No 5 Airfield Construction Squadron and were completed in 1974. The base is currently in a "caretaker" situation and is frequently used for Army, RAAF and joint services exercises. (Not open for inspection).
In 2007 a suggestion was put forward by a local tourism operator to change the name of the airport. This suggestion generated a lot of community response. To date the Shire Council has had no formal proposals put forward by the tourism industry regarding this issue.
Located on Payne Street the Truscott Club was named after Wing Commander " Bluey" Truscott, RAAF. He was the Commanding Officer of the Fighter Squadron responsible for the defence of Exmouth Gulf (Operation Potshot) during World War II. He was killed in a flying accident in the Exmouth Gulf in 1943 when he misjudged his altitude and his wing tipped the water. Bluey Truscott was a well known Melbourne Football Club member when he joined the RAAF in 1940.
Operation Jaywick 1943
A raid on Japanese shipping at Singapore in September, 1943.
The "KRAIT", a captured Japanese fishing vessel, sailed from Exmouth Gulf for Singapore waters with a crew of eight, all members of the Services Reconnaissance Department. The operation was a complete success - the attack party in three canoes sank or severely damaged seven ships totalling almost 40,000 tons with their limpet charges.
The party returned safely to Exmouth Gulf after 47 days at sea.
Operation Potshot 1942-45
After the allied retreat before the advancing Japanese in 1942, Fremantle and Albany became bases for US submarines operating in the S.W. Pacific area. However, because of the long distance involved, an advance base was required and Exmouth Gulf was selected for this purpose. An air strip was built and a fighter squadron stationed there, an anti-aircraft battery established and in May 1943 the US tender "Pelias" anchored in the Gulf to start servicing submarines who moored alongside the tender. In spite of the hastily prepared defences, the risk of danger from enemy air attacks was high. "Pelias" therefore retired to Fremantle and the Gulf remained a refuelling base for submarines until February, 1945 when most of the facilities were destroyed by a severe cyclone.
Operation Rimau 1944
This ill-fated expedition was intended to be a repeat of Operation Jaywick but on a larger scale.
Twenty-two members of the Services Reconnaissance Department sailed in HM Submarine "Porpoise" from Fremantle in September 1944, to attack Japanese shipping at Singapore. As arranged, the raiders were transferred to a captured junk near their objective, but the Japanese became aware of the presence of allied troops and they were hunted down before the attack could be mounted. Thirteen of the party were eventually killed, and the remainder taken prisoner and later executed.
The Japanese Commander wrote in his report of the execution:
"Every member of the party went to his death calmly and composedly, and there was not a single person who was not inspired by their fine attitude."
HMS "Porpoise" was later lost in another operation in the Malacca Straits.
Many of the street names honour Australian, British and American Servicemen who took part in operations from the Exmouth region during World War Two. Click here to view the history behind the street names.