By Jim Birchall

West Auckland has a hidden wartime history hiding in plain site.

In Te Atatu peninsula,  Gun emplacements were erected to house anti-aircraft guns designed to counter the predicted (but never eventuated) Japanese offensive into the Waitemata harbour &  to protect military targets like the western airfields at Hobsonville.

american soldiers auckland circa 1943
American soldiers in Auckland circa 1943. Photo Auckland museum collection

Hobonsonville air base was completed in 1920 and served as a point of operations for the NZRAF during wartime. Dummy aircraft, constructed from plywood were positioned amongst farmland to the north-west in an attempt of subterfuge against Japanese bomber aircraft.

The buildings that today sit as Avondale college, played its part in the war-time effort as a U.S Navy hospital, and the nearby racecourse was used as a camp for U.S army and allied personnel.

Even Titirangi was engineered with tank traps along Scenic drive, ostensibly to counter any advance from the west coast, while Kumeu was proposed as the site from an anti-tank ditch that stretched to Redvale.

Most interestingly, the area adjacent to the railway tunnel in Swanson, (running parallel to Pooks road) was, in fact, a highly classified fuel storage facility. It was created to house back-up fuel, should an invasion force destroy fuel tanks located at Whenuapai. It also was responsible for fuelling planes at the airbase.