MELVILLE ARMY CAMP
FREMANTLE, WA
DURING WWII

 

The Melville Australian Army Camp was initially established in 1939 when the Army leased land from the Fremantle Council. It later became a major training and administrative base during WWII.

After initial training at Northam, Militia units rotated through Melville Camp as part of the 13th Infantry Brigade Group. Accommodation was initially in tents with only the cookhouses, latrines, mess huts, showers etc in constructed buildings. Barrack huts were erected later amongst the trees which provided good cover.

When the war in the Pacific broke out in December 1941, all the units of the 13th Infantry Brigade Group entered camp at Melville Camp and trained in the surrounding bush areas.

Camp Hospital Melville was raised in August 1940 with 60 beds to service the 13th Infantry Brigade Group units that were starting to train at Melville Camp. They became 37 Camp Hospital in April 1942 and were reduced to 30 beds in February 1944 before being disbanded in October 1944.

The 4th Infantry Division arrived at Melville Camp from Melbourne in April 1942 and the 2nd Infantry Brigade Group arrived by ship and settled in at Melville Camp.

When Lt. Gen. Gordon Bennett (HQ 3 Aust Corps) took command of the Defence of Western Australia, he ordered that field units should not occupy fixed camps such as Melville Camp, so the the Brigade was dispersed in various bush camps around the Midland / Bellevue areas. Melville Camp was then occupied by a variety of base and training units for the rest of WWII.

122 Special Hospital and the 37th Australian Camp Hospital occupied part of the site during WWII. Many other Australian Army Units passed through Camp Melville during WWII.

The former Watch House for the Camp remained for many years after the war but has now gone. On the northern part of Sir Frederick Sampson Park, beside Sellenger Avenue there is a grassed picnic area which includes some plaques on a large rock commemorating Melville Camp's role during WWII including the role of the 13th Infantry Brigade Group and the 12,000 troops that passed through the camp.

No. 11 Australian Detentions Barracks relocated from Fremantle Prison to the former Melville Camp in June 1946 and remained there until 1947.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Graeme Milligan and Graham McKenzie-Smith for their assistance with this web page.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 2 August 2015

This page last updated 07 August 2015