12th September 1944 - No. 2 (Islands) Works Squadron, RNZAF, Sawmill Unit.
The formation of RNZAF No 2 (Islands) Works Squadron, came about due to the construction work required on the new stations at Bougainville North, Green Island, Emiru, and Munus Los Negros. This was beyond the capabilities of No 1 (Islands) Works Squadron, already fully occupied in building additional accommodation at Guadalcanal for the RNZAF No1 (Islands) Works Squadron Headquarters and stores shift, from Santos.
To overcome this situation a second works Squadron was formed. - RNZAF No 2 (Islands) Works Squadron with Headquarters at Guadalcanal. Detached works flights were established in the forward Islands to help the American Forces in setting up bases.
The Americans, for the use of RNZAF sawmill personnel handed over their U S Navy sawmill at Lombrum Point, Los Negros in the Admiralty Group on the 12th of September 1944.
The RNZAF Sawmill, averaged 50,000 feet of sawn timber per week, sawing mainly Mahogany, Teak, Rubberwood, and Rosewood. The demand for timber was so great that often a 7 day working week was worked. Timber was supplied to the RNZAF units, and American Seabee’s Construction Units, for many uses on this Manus-Los Negros base.
One of the biggest accomplishments of the war for the RNZAF Sawmill Units, was the supply of sufficient timber for the construction of a bridge linking Los Negros and Manus Islands. (Admiralty Islands Group). It was estimated at the time that the bridge constructed by the U.S Marines, cost a million dollars. This strategic group of Islands provided two heavy Bomber and Fighter plane aerodromes. Seeadler Harbour was developed into one of the largest naval bases in the Pacific. (US Navy 7th Fleet) The Philippines were now within easy reach.
The RNZAF Sawmill Unit operated this sawmill up to the end of the war.
The Unit was preparing for a move to Borneo when war ended in August 1945.
General view of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Sawmill, Los Negros, circa 1944
RNZAF Official, Air Force Museum of New Zealand (PR4879)
RNZAF Sawmill - maintenance workshop, sawmill to right. Los Negros 1944
Sergeant Skillet and an airman of the RNZAF Sawmill Unit examining foliage. Los Negros, 1945
RNZAF Sawmill Unit Trees - Fish Tail Palms, Los Negros, 1945
Workers clearing land with bulldozers. Royal New Zealand Air Force Sawmill Unit, Los Negros. RNZAF Official, Air Force Museum of New Zealand (PR4880)
RNZAF Sawmill bushman standing on a 'Jigger' prior to cutting down a tree.
Los Negros, 1945
RNZAF Sawmill bushmen axe scarfing to fall the tree in the required direction, prior to sawing from the other side. Los Negros, 1945
RNZAF Sawmill bushmen cross cutting to fell the tree, while standing ona "Jigger" so placed to be able to cut abovethe flare of the trunk. Los Negros, 1945
Timber! A tree falling after being cut down by members of the RNZAF Sawmill Unit, Los Negros bush, 1945
RNZAF Sawmill bush logging road on Los Negros, 1945
RNZAF Sawmill Caterpillar D7 Bulldozer with Logging Arch, breaking out logs. Los Negros, 1945
Breaking out with tracked logging arch. Los Negros 1945
RNZAF Sawmill airmen using a chainsaw to cut the logs to lengths. Note the casual cigarette just above the chanisaw's petrol tank!
Airmen drag logs up to the mill with a tractor-driven winch. RNZAF Sawmill, Los Negros, circa 1944. RNZAF Official, Air Force Museum of New Zealand (PR4883)
Airmen manoeuvre a log into place in readiness for milling. RNZAF Sawmill, Los Negros, circa 1944. RNZAF Official, Air Force Museum of New Zealand (PR4878)
Airmen guide a log through the breaking-down saw. RNZAF Sawmill, Los Negros, circa 1944. RNZAF Official, Air Force Museum of New Zealand (PR4881)
Pacific log carriage, Corporal Newcombe on lever. RNZAF Sawmill, Los Negros, 1945
Pacific log carriage. RNZAF Sawmill, Los Negros, 1945
Pacific log carriage, RNZAF Sawmill, Los Negros, 1945
Squaring off a bridge or wharf beam
Breast Bench. Corporal Douglas is the Benchman. Los Negros 1945
Breast Bench. Benchman, Tailer Out and Pin Man. Los Negros, 1945
Pacific bencgh gantry, to timber yard. RNZAF Sawmill, Los Negros, 1945
Airman stacking freshly milled timber at the RNZAF Sawmill, Los Negros, circa 1944. RNZAF Official, Air Force Museum of New Zealand (PR4882)
Flight Sergeant Harry Butters viewing shrapnel, Los Negros, 1945
Shrapnel was dangerous and hard on the saws
Dispatching the sawn timber, Los Negros, 1945
RNZAF airmen loading timber cut for bridges, Los Negros 1945
RNZAF Sawmill crew vieing the day's sawn timber tally. Left to right are: Sgt Jack Thomas, Workshop: F/Sgt S.W. Lacassion: F/O Stan Tuck (C.O.): Sgt Bob Sproulo, Timber Yard: F/Sgt Harry Bales, Mill Foreman. Los Negros 1945
RNZAF Sawmill saw doctor, Sgt H. Bata, gulleting a saw. Los Negros, 1945
RNZAF saw doctor AC1 Dustan of Auckland sharpening a saw blade. Los Negros 1945
RNZAF Camp on Los Negros. With daily rain there was plenty of mud, before the improvements. 1944
Eradication crew keeping the mosquitoes in check, 1944
RNZAF Camp Los Negros, March 1945
US Navy ship repair facilities at Lombrum Point, Los Negros 1944. 46th US Navy Seabee project.