The Rathmines RAAF Base Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia, was established in 1939 and was at one time or another the home for flying boats from No.’s 9 (Walrus), 11, 20, & 43 (Catalina) 40 (Sunderland & Martin) 41 (Dornier, Martin & Empire) and 107 (Kingfisher) Squadron’s.
As well as being a vital repair centre, the Base was also a centre for training, housing the Operational Training Unit (No 3 OTU) for Catalina crews and in all provided training to over 200 crews during the war.
During training, many personnel brought their families to live in the towns and villages near the Rathmines Base which influenced the establishment of other services such as a school and a post office. The Base comprised 230 buildings and marine facilities. At peak strength there were 40 aircraft in service.
Rathmines is the only surviving and intact Flying Boat Base left in Australia, and it is significant that it has been recognised for protection on the State Heritage Register. Catalina Flying Boats were the only aircraft to see service with the RAAF for the entire war time operations against Japan. These Flying Boats and their crews stationed at Rathmines were involved in events that ended the threat of invasion to Australia, including the mining of Manila harbour and the waters off the East Coast of China, as well as the Battle of the Coral Sea.
The last of the Flying Boats left the Base in 1952 and the Base officially closed on November 30, 1960.