WONZ 187 – Michelle Sim – Bombs And Bulldozers

Guest: Michelle Sim

Host: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 30th of June 2018

Released: 3rd of August 2018

Duration: 37 minutes 49 seconds

This episode features Michelle Sim, the sixth speaker at the recent WONZ Forum Meet held at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, at Wigram, Christchurch.

Michelle is the Communications Manager at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, and she previously was an Archivist within that museum. She’s also a dedicated avgeek. One of the topics that really interested her when she was working in the Archives was the story of the RNZAF’s No. 1 Aerodrome Construction Squadron, which she presents here.

This unit was assembled from construction workers of the New Zealand Public Works Department, and they were sent to Malaya to build airfields for the Royal Air Force.  Their task was however interrupted by the entry into WWII of Japan who set about attacking Malaya and Singapore, forcing the squadron to fight for their lives in their attempt to get home to New Zealand.

Quick Links:

•  The Air Force Museum of New Zealand

•  Michelle’s Email Contact is Communications@Airforcemuseum.co.nz


“Bombs And Bulldozers”
Presentation by Michelle Sim. All images courtesy of the Air Force museum of New Zealand.

Michelle Sim with a RSAF F-15 at the RNZAF Air Tattoo at Ohakea, Feb 2017

Michelle (bottom right) at the Air Training Corps National Aviation (Power Flying) Course, 1999.

Michelle at work in the Museum’s archives, 2010.

Papers from the Eric Smart collection, held in the archives of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Inside the No. 1 Aerodrome Construction Squadron (1 ACS) airmen’s barracks at Tebrau camp, Dec 1941

Caterpillar tractor driver at work, towing a carry-all (levelling machine), Tebrau airfield

Caterpillar tractors towing carry-alls (levelling machines) across the main runway at Tebrau, December 1941

Men and machinery of 1 ACS at Bukit Lunchu quarry, January 1942

The first large snake capture at Bekok – 12′ 6″ (3.8 metres) python, December 1941

Bulldozer clearing palm oil trees, Bekok

Men of 1 ACS sporting newly-shaved heads, December 1941

1 ACS crossing the Causeway to Singapore, 27 January 1942. Note the “DEAD SLOW” sign, on account of the British Royal Engineers laying demolition charges on the Causeway

Demolition party from 1 ACS laying charges in the airfield at Tebrau

A land mine being detonated in the Bekok air strip

Men from 1 ACS with a slit trench at their evacuation camp on Singapore. The caption on the photo notes these trenches were put to good use during the siege

Men of 1 ACS winching a carry-all onto S.S. Talythbius at the Singapore docks, Feb 1942

Members of 1 ACS preparing to evacuate on S.S. Darvel, Singapore, Feb 1942

S.S. Darvel in Banka Strait, just prior to its attack by Japanese bombers

Disembarking from S.S. Darvel at Batavia

A cold but very welcome homecoming – the surviving members of 1 ACS arriving at Lyttleton Harbour on 24 March 1942.

Note: The music at the end of the audio version of this show is Wild Flower by Joakim Karud

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