New Lambton Public School

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The War Years

New Lambton Public School was requisitioned by the government for military use during World War II and became Nº2 Fighter Sector Headquarters.

In 1942 School was commandeered by the Air Force for use as No.2 Fighter Sector and training centre. Pupils were sent to neighbouring schools.

World War II in the Pacific directly affected the pupils of New Lambton Public School far more than any other school in the district. Initially, at the beginning of 1942, all the pupils at the school were given an extension to their Christmas holidays. Then, early in March 1942, the Minister for Education announced that the school was required for purposes other than education. This decision meant that all the pupils had to be accommodated at other schools in the district. From then on, pupils were transported, daily, by bus or train to schools at Lambton, Adamstown, Hamilton and Cardiff.

The unit that took up residence at the school was known as Nº2 Fighter Sector (FS). This unit was responsible for fighter aircraft control and coordination for the Newcastle region and was set up on 25 February 1942. Squadron Leader M.H. Everest was the first Commanding Officer and the principal aircraft controller.

At the time of taking residence, there were three main buildings at the school: the Boys School, the Girls School and the Infants School. The headmaster's residence was also taken over and employed as the unit's Headquarters. On 29 March 1942, the unit commenced 24 hour operations and had a strength of 25 RAAF officers, one WAAAF officer, one RAAF Nursing Sister, 38 RAAF airmen and 68 other WAAAF personnel.

During April and May of 1942, additional facilities were constructed within the school boundaries. They included ablutions blocks, a new kitchen, messes, a boiler house and a WAAAF's laundry. Besides normal operations, Nº2FS became the training centre for many other Fighter Sector units being formed around Australia. Subsequently, a Central Training School was set up to train operations room personnel and to conduct refresher courses. This training role was extensive and, on 1 June 1942, personnel from Nº7FS (Melbourne), Nº1FS (Sydney), Nº3FS (Townsville) and Nº8FS (Brisbane,) all commenced courses at New Lambton. These courses were also attended by personnel from the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), soon to become the United States Air Force (USAF).

​No2FS was on duty when a Japanese, submarine shelled Newcastle between 0215 and 0235 hours, on 8 June 1942. The unit noted that 22 shells were fired, although Japanese sources cited that more were fired. Despite being notified by the Wipers Forward Observation Post (FOP), the radar stations, including Shepherds Hill and Redhead; the shore defence units were unable to verify the position of the submarine.

In October 1943, Nº2FS was redesignated as 102FS HQ and in March 1944 it again changed its title to 102 Fighter Control Unit (FCU). In late 1944, the operations at New Lambton were scaled down and the main FCU headquarters were moved to Ash Island on 3 December 1944. On 21 January 1945, 102FCU was placed on a care and maintenance basis and closed down completely on 12 February. From the end of 1943, the Parents and Citizens Association had waged a very active campaign for the return of the school. The New Lambton Public School was eventually returned to the NSW Education Department and was ready for students again in 1946. The main delay was apparently caused by arguments between the NSW Government and the Department of Air over the labour and financing for the restoration of the school. All the temporary huts and buildings built for the RAAF were removed and re-erected at Williamtown on 4 May 1945.

1995 Reunion

In 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, a reunion of RAAF and WAAAF Radar staff who served in the area was held. Ladies of the WAAAF who served at New Lambton School (Nº2 Fighter Sector Headquarters) told the children of life at the base.

Making History Challenge 2014

New Lambton Public School has a proud history of winning awards, however it is the school history that has earned the school it’s latest accolade, winning the Temora Aviation Museum’s ‘Make History Challenge’. The challenge concept was for students to have fun whilst exploring new ways to learn about Australia's wartime history and its impact on our national identity. A group of year 5 history buffs worked with Principal, James Brigden to produce a four minute video focusing on the use of the school as an RAAF base during WWII. Student Kyra Wainwright said “We discovered that when WWII broke out the school was used by the RAAF and students were sent to other schools such as Adamstown and Hamilton.” The team researched newspaper archives, and photographs and listened to stories from past students who had attended the school at the time.  They even unearthed the discovery of a mysterious secret room within the school. Submissions were shortlisted, with finalists proceeding to a public vote via facebook.  As a winner the school received an excursion package to Temora where students viewed their clip which was included in the museum’s exhibition.