Rathmines Park -- a former RAAF Flying Boat Base NSW
The Flying Boat Base at Rathmines Park became operational in December 1939, when No. 9 Squadron which was initially from Point Cook in Victoria transferred to Rathmines with their fleet of Seagull Flying boats.
During 1940 the crews for No. 9, 10 and 11 Squadrons commenced training at Rathmines. In 1941 The Catalina "Black Cat's" arrived at Rathmines. The Catalina Squadrons played a significant role in Australian RAAF defensive and offensive operations.
Notably, In May 1942 a Japanese taskforce bound for Port Moresby was located by Catalina aircraft. Reports transmitted enabled the American and Australian navies to intercept the Japanese force resulting in the ‘Battle of the Coral Sea’. The outcome was the withdrawal of Japanese forces from Australian waters.
After the RAAF retired its flying boats in 1952 RAAF Base Rathmines was used as a ground-training base for, among others, officers, senior non-commissioned officers, physical training instructors, national servicemen and recruits until being closed in 1961. When the base closed a large hangar, complete with electrically operated doors and used for servicing seaplanes, was pulled down and half of the very high building shipped to RAAF Base Richmond to house the RAAF's then-new C-130 Hercules aircraft.
In 1972 a memorial was erected at Rathmines. Dedicated to those who served at the RAAF Rathmines and to all associated with flying boats and seaplanes 1939-1960.This memorial was unveiled by Air Vice Marshall W.E. Townsend on 16 September 1972.
The only building that remains unaltered is the Recreation area / picture theatre. The Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club has a memorial wall dedicated to all members who served at RAAF Rathmines Flying Boat Base. The Club is formerly the Officers Mess.
The role played by Catalina aircraft and crews has received very little public recognition because of the need to maintain secrecy. Rathmines Park Air Force Interpretive Project is the first step in commemorating and celebrating their contribution to the defence of our country and the way of life enjoyed by our citizens.