US 104th Coastal Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) Camp
Cooktown Mission Airstrip
- North and Cape York
Cooktown Mission Airfield, Cooktown 4895
Cooktown Mission Strip was operational by September 1942. Camp facilities were limited to showers and latrines for two squadrons, with all accommodation being under canvas tents. By November RAAF 27 Operational Base Unit had transferred from the civil 'drome to the completed mission strip. It was joined there by American units from the civil 'drome including the US 104 Coastal Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) Battery.
The battery set up its main camp under the mission mango trees near the missionary’s house. This also became the site of the CCC camp. Workers at the mission strip were prevented from entering Cooktown by military police after a series of brawls with US servicemen.
The mission strip became a base for RAAF squadrons engaged in anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties along the eastern coast of Cape York. It also became a major refuelling base and stopover for large numbers of aircraft travelling back and forward to New Guinea. A detachment of RAAF 7 Squadron, equipped with Beaufort bombers operated from the mission strip on marine patrol duties until transferred to Horn Island in November 1943. In July 1943 they were joined on escort duties by RAAF 12 Squadron, equipped with single-engine Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers.
American units at the mission strip began transferring to forward locations in New Guinea from mid-1943 and by early 1944 plans were made for RAAF 13 Squadron to take over the camp areas vacated by the Americans.
Vera Bradley. I Didn’t Know That: Cairns and districts Tully to Cape York, 1939–1946, Service personnel and civilians, Boolarong Press, Brisbane, 1995.
Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993.
Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.
Roger Marks, Queensland Airfields WW2: 50 years on, Brisbane, 1994.
Don Sinclair, Cooktown at War: A record of activities in Cooktown during World War Two, Cooktown and District Historical Society, 1997.