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Community & Business

8 February, 2023

Leyburn Airfield a link with dark days of World War II

The unveiling of a plaque at Liberator Park, Leyburn on Thursday, 16 March at 10am, to commemorate the role of the Leyburn airfield in World War II is a somewhat frightening reminder of the dark days of 1942 when the threat of invasion seemed very real.

The plaque to be unveiled at Liberator Park in Leyburn.

The December 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor was quickly followed by the surprise fall of Singapore and then on 19th February 1942 came the shock of the first Japanese attack on Darwin when 242 aircraft bombed the city.

This attack caused most of the civilian population to evacuate the city in what has been described  as mass panic with the Australian Government withholding news of the evacuation from the public.

As the threat of invasion to the Australian mainland seemed very real, plans were put in place to defend the nation and so a proposal to build airfields in less vulnerable locations resulted in the construction of the Leyburn airfield.

The purpose of the Leyburn airfield and others at Cecil Plains, Jondaryan and  Condamine may shock people today, as they were built to accommodate aircraft to bomb any invasion force close to Brisbane. 

The perceived  threat of invasion and the level of concern, can be seen by the fact construction of the
two kilometre long airstrip was already underway weeks before War Cabinet approval on 8th May 1942.

As the threat of invasion disappeared the Allies never needed to use the Leyburn airstrip but the RAAF 23rd Squadron of Liberator bombers used the base from 1944 to 1945 as did the RAAF Special Duties Flight  whose mission was to drop  Australian Army “Z” Force Special units into enemy territory by parachute.

It is appropriate that the history of Leyburn Airfield is commemorated as it is a clear link to the very dark days of 1942 when the direction of Australian history was at a cross roads.

The Historical Society, Leyburn RSL and the RAAF 23rd Squadron invite all interested persons to the unveiling of the commemorative plaque at Liberator Park on the corner of Dove and Lilley streets.

A morning tea will be held at the RSL after the ceremony.

RSVP by Friday, 3 March via email to

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