LEWIS KINLESIDE BLACKMORE – RAAF AND THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
Lewis Kinleside Blackmore, Service Number 33660, enlisted in the RAAF on the 9th September 1940 at age 23 and trained as an Aircraft Fitter II (a) at Ultimo, Canberra, Ascot Vale and Wagga Wagga.
On the 2nd July 1941 he was posted to RAAF Station Darwin and was promoted to Leading Aircraftman on 1st October 1941. He was there for the first two Darwin bombings that included the RAAF Station on the 19th February 1942 and another subsequent 10 bombings (6 of which targeted the RAAF Station). The second, high altitude bombing of the RAAF Station on the 19th February lasted 25 minutes.
With Darwin’s airfield originally at Parap, construction of a new airfield began in 1938 and RAAF Station Darwin was established on 1 June 1940. The base hosted a large number of RAAF and United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) units during World War II.
There is a story of Lew and his friend Bob Jones, who were using a Roller to repair the airfield, taking cover in a bomb crater during a strafing attack on the airfield by the Japanese.
Lew was posted further south to Daly Waters No 1 Repair & Salvage Unit on the 4th April 1942.
One of many satellite airfields around Darwin, Daly Waters housed RAAF bomber and maritime patrol units from early 1942, when enemy raids on Darwin forced a dispersal of aircraft and personnel. By late 1943, the tide of the war had changed, and operational flying from the base ended in favour of more northern bases.
Lew was at Daly Waters until 22nd July 1942 during which time Darwin was bombed a further 10 times. He was then posted to Uranquinty, near Wagga, NSW, and promoted to Corporal on the 1st September 1942.
He was granted special leave without pay for 3 months from 11th August 1942 to 8th November 1942 to help his father, Jack (JC) Blackmore and mother Edith (nee Kinleside) at Shearing time at “Mt View” Clandulla. Due to the war there was a shortage of casual farm labour available.
Whilst at Uranquiunty Lew went absent without leave for three days from 11th December to 14th December 1942 and travelled by train via Melbourne to Tarwin Meadows, Victoria to visit his ailing grand uncle, Robert McGregor Watson, who with his two brothers, Harry and Sidney, had settled at Gregory Downs, in the Gulf Country of Queensland, in 1875.
Lew was later posted to Bradfield Park and was discharged from the RAAF on the 25th February 1943 under AFR 115 (t) to “take up civilian employment” at Gregory Downs, Burketown.
His great uncle, Robert McGregor Watson, the last surviving of the three Watson Brothers had passed away on the previous day at 83 years of age and ownership the cattle property was to eventually pass to Lew after being held up in the Estates of the last two Watson brothers for a further two years.
On the 6th June 1943, Lew enlisted at Burketown with the 23rd Regiment Volunteer Defense Corps of the Australian Army and was discharged on the 21st October 1945. (Service Number Q230544).