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    Drysdale Airfield (Drysdale Mission Airfield, Thorold Strip) WA Australia
Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
Stan Gajda 1982

Location
Located at Drysdale (Kalumburu). Also known as Drysdale Mission Airfield or Drysdale River Mission Landing Ground.

Construction
Two runways that intersect at about 75 degrees.

Wartime History
The first operation mission from the airfield were on December 2, 1942 when Beaufighters of 31 Squadron RAAF attacked and destroyed enemy aircraft on Poeloeti Airfield (Penfui) near Koepang on Timor.

The RAAF used this airfield to attack Japanese forces on Timor until Truscott Airfield was built, but Drysdale was still used. After the force landing of B-24D "Shady Lady" this airfield was used by RAAF aircraft in support of the rescue operation and salvage effort.

Japanese missions against Kalumburu
September 27, 1943 (JAAF / IJN) Twenty one Ki-48-II Lilys from the 75th Sentai took off from Koepang Airfield and were escorted by A6M Zeros from the 202 Kokutai taking off from Penfui Airfield. Detected by radar, Darwin was notified and Spitfires from 452 Squadron took off to intercept, but failed to reach the area in time. Over the target, the Ki-48 made a 40° dive bombing attack against the Drysdale Airfield and Drysdale Mission, each dropping six 50 kg bombs and afterwards strafed the area. The Australians fired ineffective anti-aircraft fire at the attackers. The runway was hit and an ammunition storage hut was set on fire and destroyed. Five were killed on the Drysdale Mission. All of the Japanese planes returned safely, the last Japanese daylight bombing raid over Australia and last flight of Zeros over Australia. After the raid, eighty-six bomb craters were found in the area. Today, there area still a lot of bomb craters about and bomb fragments from this mission.

Naming Honors
On May 11, 1943 Drysdale Airfield was named "Thorold Strip" in honor of Spitfire A58-92 pilot Squadron Leader Thorold-Smith killed in action on March 15, 1943.

Today
Disused since the war.

Stan Gajda adds:
"There were still some RAAF buildings there when I was there last in 1982. Beaufighters, Wirraways, Spitfires, P-40s, Hudsons and B-25s used to operate out of there.

B-25C "Mississippi Dream" N5-161
Abandoned at the airfield, scrapped in 1982

Bristol Beaufighter Mark XIc A19-144
Recovered by Robert Greinert and Dennis Baxter in the middle 1980s

Bristol Beaufighter Mark XIc A19-148
Recovered by Robert Greinert and Dennis Baxter in the middle 1980s

References
Air Group 202's Final Escort Mission over Australia by Richard Dunn

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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