YORKFORCE
AUSTRALIAN ARMY,
IN TOWNSVILLE AREA DURING WWII

 

A Division sized Headquarters for Yorkforce was established at Dick Creek near Townsville in January 1943 replacing Headquarters 5th Australian Infantry Division which left the area for Milne Bay, New Guinea. Yorkforce took over responsibility for the defence of Townsville from the 5th Australian Infantry Division at 0100 hours on 13 January 1943 under the command of Brigadier J.W. Crawford.

Initially Headquarters Yorkforce was in control of the 11th Australian Infantry Brigade Group in Cairns and 2nd Cavalry Regiment which was in the Townsville area. Yorkforce also controlled many Base Troops in the region.

The 12th Australian Infantry Brigade Group arrived in Townsville from Tasmania in April 1943 and 6th Australian Infantry Brigade Group moved to Cairns from southern Queensland, both coming under the control of Yorkforce. The 14th Australian Infantry Brigade Group setup camp in the Cluden area in April 1943 after returning from New Guinea in March 1943.

The control of Combined Defence Headquarters at Townsville passed to Yorkforce at 0001 hours on 6 April 1943. The control of all Fixed Coastal Defences within First Australian Army Area passed to First Australian Army at 0001hours on 6 April 1943. First Australian Army delegated this control of Fixed Coastal Defences within the Yorkforce area of responsibility to Headquarters Yorkforce at 0001 hours on 6 April 1943/

At 0001 hours on 6 April 1943, Headquarters Yorkforce further delegated this control to Commander Fixed Defences Townsville. From that time, the Commander Fixed Defences Townsville to be directly responsible to HQ Yorkforce for administration, training and operational efficiency of all fixed coastal defences within Yorkforce area.

At 0001 hours on 6 April 1943, the command for all purposes of Anti-aircraft Defences located within First Australian Army area passed to Headquarters First Australian Army. At 0001 hours on 6 April 1943, First Australian Army delegated to HQ Yorkforce control of all Australian anti-aircraft defences situated within Yorkforce area for administration and training. Anti- aircraft Defence Commander Townsville was directly responsible to HQ Yorkforce for the administration and training of all Australian Anti-aircraft units within Yorkforce area.

In May 1943 Headquarters 4th Australian Infantry Division arrived in Townsville from Perth and absorbed Yorkforce into its command structure.

Yorkforce's area of operational responsibility was defined as follows:-

(a) In the north, by the parallel of Latitude 12 degrees S.

(b) In the south, by the general line all inclusive O'Connell River Estuary - Emu Plains - Hughenden - Cloncurry.

(c) In the west, by the Northern territory border, except that the districts around Camooweal and Mt. Isa. (This definition corresponds with the western boundary of No. 1 (NQ) L of C Sub-area)

 

Yorkforce Intercommunications envisaged as at 28 March 1943

 

The above intercommunications block diagram shows:-

Yorkforce were concerned in March 1943 that in the event of an attack on Townsville, the existing line communications would be most vulnerable as almost without exception, they passed through the PMG Exchange in the Townsville city area. It was also considered that the PMG airline route to Charters Towers was vulnerable throughout its length and in the absence of a Line Section to undertake restoration where and when necessary, it was proposed to utilise carrier pigeons as an alternative means of intercommunication between Townsville and Charters Towers.

Action to be taken on the Order "Action Stations" was as follows:-

(a) OC H Sec DIV SIGS will deliver to YORKFORCE Signals two (2) W/T sets No. 11 to TOWNFORCE, STUARTFORCE, CHUNDAFORCE and CANFORCE one (1) W/T set No. 11 each. The six (6) sets to be accompanied by Operators.

(b) OC F Sec FIV SIGS will establish a W/T set No. 101 at Arty RHQ and a similar set at Signals YORKFORCE - and provide operators.

(c) OC Pigeon Sec Area Sigs will organise a communication YORKFORCE - CANFORCE - CHARTERS TOWERS.

(d) Allocation of frequencies will be made by OC Signals YORKFORCE.

 

REFERENCES

Yorkforce War Diary - AWM

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Graham McKenzie-Smith for his assistance with this web page.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 31 December 2015

This page last updated 05 January 2016