46TH ENGINEERS
THEN 46TH ENGINEER GENERAL SERVICE REGIMENT
LATER 46TH ENGINEER CONSTRUCTION BATTALION
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

46th Engineer General Service Regiment (46th EGSR) was activated on 14 July 1941 at Camp Bowie, Texas and took part in army manoeuvres in Louisiana in the fall of 1941.

They sailed on 23 January 1942 for Australia along with the 43rd Engineer General Service Regiment (43rd EGSR) as part of Task Force 6814 with the bulk of their equipment following three weeks later.

On 26 February 1942, the 46th EGSR under the command of Lt. Colonel Albert G. Matthews landed at Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. They went through 2 weeks combat training at Melbourne and with the arrival of their equipment, the 46th went to northern Queensland by rail.

On 8 March 1942 the 46th Engineer General Service Regiment were advised of an impending move from Melbourne to the Townsville area to construct a number of air fields in north Queensland and New Guinea. 

On 13 March 1942 the first of the 46th's men reached Woodstock 20 miles south of Townsville to build an airfield. The first large contingent of the 46th Engineers arrived in Townsville on 15 March 1942 and set up camp at Armstrong's Paddock.  This is now the site of the the Pimlico High School and the TAFE College across the road.  Armstrong's Paddock became one of the largest of the many staging camps in the Townsville area.

On 18 March 1942, the full regiment began work on the 3 runways for the airfield at Woodstock. As they were just a general service regiment the 46th did not have a lot of heavy equipment just a few dozers and motor graders for removing the trees and grading the site. The 91st Engineers along with the Queensland Main Roads Commission may have helped the 46th Engineers to build the Woodstock airfield. The first aircraft landed at Woodstock airfield on 22 March 1942.

On 22 May 1942, Company A,  46th EGSR moved to Torrens Creek, 180 miles southwest of Townsville where in just 5 days they would build an airfield 100ft wide and 2500ft long and lay Marston matting on it.

On 29 March 1942, Companies B, C and F began working on a third airfield 40 miles south of Townsville at Reid River. The first landing strip at Reid River Airfield was ready by 15 April 1942 despite the area being heavily wooded. The stumps of the eucalyptus trees damaged the tyres of the motor graders. With the tyres in short supply the 46th took over a retreading plant at Townsville whose workers had been evacuated. This solved the tyre situation.

On the Cape York Peninsula, survey parties of the 46th located good sites for 2 airfields one near Mareeba, west of Cairns on the Atherton Tablelands and the other site was 100 miles north at Cooktown Mission. The Queensland Main Roads Commission would do the construction work on these two airfields.

On 18 June 1942, Company E left Townsville for Milne Bay.

On 19 June 1942, Company A started work on two bomber runways on Horn Island. At Horn Island, the Australian commander had the 46th blast a tunnel under the runway fearing an enemy attack.

Companies B and C travelled 150 miles south of Horn Island by ship to Portland Roads to build a bomber runway. The 46th Engineers and the Queensland Main Roads Commission started construction of the Advanced Operational Base at Iron Range on 15 May 1942.  The base comprised of 2 airstrips. A chartered Dragon Rapide VH-UUO of Australian Airlines was the first to land on the new air strip on 8 July 1942.

12 July 1942, Company D and HQ&S arrive at Portland Roads.

On 6 Aug 1942, Company F moved to Merauke in Dutch New Guinea on its southern coast.

Some time after 22 April 1942, Company "A" (Capt? Williams) and Company "C"  (Capt? Behrens) of the 96th Battalion become attached to the 46th Engineers. 

The following members of the 46th Engineers were buried in the US Cemetery in Townsville as follows:-

NAME SERVICE NO. UNIT BURIAL DATE RELIGION
Fillmore Dale E. 37006605 USA 46th Engineers 16 Nov 42 Protestant
Williams, Alfred 37056971 USA Coy "B", 46th Engineers 18 Nov 42 Protestant
Crenshaw, William R. 38042638 USA Coy "B", 46th Engineers 18 Nov 42 Protestant
Gruber, Eugene H. 39233316 USA Coy "B", 46th Engineers 18 Nov 42 Protestant

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Melvin Haba for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone tell me the reason for these deaths?

 

Were the 46th Engineers ever camped at
the northern end of Mount Louisa in Townsville?

 

Were they ever involved in building underground bunkers,
tunnels or command centres in the Townsville area?

 

Sydney Robert Lynch (Q114569) died at Iron Range on 30 September 1942.

Can anyone help with details of his death.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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This page first produced 5 July 1998

This page last updated 14 January 2017