CAMP BLUEWATER
NEAR TOWNSVILLE, QLD
DURING WWII

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The "Townsville Defence Scheme" of 16 December 1942 compiled by Headquarters 5 Infantry Division became the basis for the ground defence of Townsville until the end of the war. At that time Headquarters 5 Infantry Division was at Dick Creek and its only major sub unit was the 29 Infantry Brigade, based at Bluewater Creek with 15 Infantry Battalion (Bluewater Creek), 42 Infantry Battalion (Althaus Creek) and 47 Infantry Battalion (Black River). Supporting units included 2 Cavalry Regiment (Artillery Hill), 5 Field Regiment (Smyths Siding), 101 Anti-tank Regiment (Cluden), 11 Field Company (Ingham) and 55 Field Park Company (Sellheim).

At 0800 hours on 27 August 1942, the 15th Australian Infantry Battalion, of the 29th Infantry Brigade, moved from the Mount Louisa area to take up a new position near the Bluewater Crossing area. The move was classed as a tactical move in their War Diary. The Battalion took up positions on the 28 August 1942 in the new bivouac areas in close vicinity of the Bluewater Creek crossing area and established Headquarters at Map Reference 624967, Map MAGNETIC WEST (Temporary Edition). At 1353 hours on 30 August 1942, a message was received that a Water Point at Bluewater Creek was functioning.

The property they occupied at Bluewater Creek was owned by Frank and Mary Ann Baker. Another unit of the Australian Army had previously occupied the property in May 1942 according to Frank Baker.

The 29th Infantry Brigade constructed an obstacle course at Bluewater for training purposes. On the 4th and 5th November 1942, all Companies of the 15th Australian Infantry Battalion went through the 29th Infantry Brigade Obstacle Course.

The 15th Australian Infantry Battalion moved from Camp Bluewater to a new bivouac area at Thornton's Gap on 26 November 1942 with the Headquarters area being at 523748 Map Reference Thornton Gap (Special) 1inch to 1 mile.

The following WWII sign apparently marks the location of the former Australian Army Camp Bluewater. The sign is located in front of 280 Forestry Road, Bluewater. See photo below.

 


Photo:- Dave Norris

World War II Site marker for the Australian Military Force Staging Camp at Bluewater Creek

 

The 166th AAA Gun Battalion arrived in Sydney, New South Wales on the USS West Point and and camped at Camp Warwick in Sydney from 11 October 1943 until 8 November 1943. The unit then left Sydney and headed for Townsville in north Queensland. They camped overnight at Camp Ascot in Brisbane on their way to Townsville. When 166th AAA Gun Battalion arrived in Townsville they travelled on the road north of Townsville towards Ingham and camped at Camp Bluewater from 13 November 1943 until 1 February 1944. They left Townsville on the "Kinimba" (Or is is Kanimbla?) and landed at Finschhafen in New Guinea. They then moved on to Wake Island.

The 227th Anti-aircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion left Camp Warwick in Sydney by train on 8 December 1943 and arrived in Townsville on 11 December 1943 and were quartered at Armstrong's Paddock. 227th AAA S/L Bn moved to Camp Bluewater, 22 miles north of Townsville on 8 January 1944 to stage for combat in New Guinea. Here the started a training program for jungle warfare. Troops were trained by Australian Army instructors to live off the land. The training was tough and them men who returned from the training claimed that their C-rations tasted great compared to the bush tucker.

The following is an extract from a history of the 227th AAA S/L Bn titled "on Target":-

"The camp derived its name from the fact that a stream of water ran beside the camp. It was a pretty body of water, the only trouble being that we couldn't swim in it for the parasites seemed to be holding family reunions there."

On the evening of 30 March 1944, Lt. Col. John W. Squire, the Commanding Officer stood on the stage at Camp Bluewater and announced to a hushed audience that the Battalion was on alert to move into combat. Batteries "B" and "C" embarked for Finschhaven, New Guinea on 28 March 1944. Headquarters and "A" Battery boarded a Liberty Ship for Goodenough Island on 1 April 1944.

Dave Norris from Townsville has found 3 sets of dog tags in Bluewater Creek at a fishing hole that he used to go to when he was a kid. He spent his childhood there. Dave has sent one RAAF Dog Tag back to relatives in Victoria and in April 2016 he was in the process of contacting relatives of a US serviceman. Dave believes the serviceman lost his Dog Tags while swimming in the creek. Dave is waiting for information from the US Army for another set of US Dog Tags

 


Photo:- Dave Norris

Dave Norris is still waiting for information from the US Army for this Dog Tag.
Dave believes he has located the grandchildren of Robert E. Nelis.

 


Photo:- Dave Norris

RAAF Dog Tag for James Ronald Nolan (127805) which Dave Norris
returned to James Nolan's brother in Quambatook, Victoria. Dave
found this one at the same time he found the one for Robert E. Nelis

 


Photo:- Dave Norris

This was the second set of Dog Tags that Dave Norris found, which belonged to Private
Stanley Gallagher who was a member of the
227th Anti-aircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion.
In April 2016, Dave Norris was waiting for a reply from Stanley's son in Port Angeles

 


Photo:- Dave Norris

Stanley Gallagher's full Dog Tag set

 

On 10 November 1944, Frank Baker, the owner of the land where Camp Bluewater was established, was charged with having in his possession 9 blankets, 6 towels and 2 drums containing a quantity of oil, suspected of being stolen. At about 4:30pm on 10 November 1942, plain clothes Constable Patrick William Carroll, saw Frank Baker at his house at Argea at Bluewater Creek. Carroll told Frank Baker that he had a search warrant to execute.

He found 6 blankets on a settee sofa and told Frank Baker that they were similar to those issued to the Army. Frank Baker told Carroll that he had found the blankets on a dump. Carroll told Frank that he doubted they had come from a dump.

In a bedroom, Carroll found 6 towels amongst other clothing and asked Baker where he had obtained them. Carroll selected 4 towels and told Baker they were similar to those issued to the Americans. Baker told him:-  "The Americans used to get their washing done here and I suppose they left them here."  Baker said that he assumed his children obtained the other 2 towels from the dump.

In a room at the back of the house, Carroll saw 3 more blankets on a bed and told Baker that they were similar to American Army blankets. Baker said that he had found them at the dump and that he had a letter dated 25 March 1944 to show that he could take anything off the dump. The letter read as follows:-

"I.F. Baker, owner of property occupied by the United States Army at Bluewater, Australia, do hereby state that this property has been policed and vacated in a manner to my complete satisfaction, and that miscellaneous items such as scrap timber, trash cans, etc, have been stacked on the same property in accordance with my request and, further, I do state that no damage has been caused to my property by any unit  of the United States Army. Signed F. Baker."

A Witness at the Court Case said that he had accompanied Frank Baker to a dump about 300 yards at the rear of the house which contained mostly case-wood and he did not see any parts of blankets or towels. About a quarter of a mile away, Frank Baker showed him a 44 gallon drum and told him the other two drums of oil came from that location. The small drums which Frank Baker had, contained oil that he had never used.

Carroll told Mr. Roberts that he had served a summons on Frank Baker at the office in town. He told Baker that if he desired to take a certain course he could have the matter dealt with at 10am that morning. Frank Baker did not tell Carroll that he had already consulted a solicitor. Carroll told the Court that Police had received a anonymous letter in regard to this charge. Carroll told the Court that Frank Baker was having trouble with some of his neighbours. Carroll did not tell Baker about the letter.

Frank Baker told Carroll that the Australian Army had occupied the camp on his property for a long time and then the Americans took possession of the vacated camp area. Carroll advised the Court that "there was evidence of a settlement having been on the place, including the remains of a picture show." Carroll did not inspect the whole of the property that had been occupied by the Army. He told the Court that Baker did not tell him anything about a claim for compensation. Baker told him that 4 towels had been left for washing and had not been collected when the Unit left the area.

Sergeant Preston Jacob Levy an American Military Provost, stated the grey blankets were similar to those issued to the American Army in Australia and the khaki coloured blanket was also an Army issue. He also stated that the towels were an Army issue.

Baker told the Court that he was a lengthsman employed by the railway for the previous 18 years. He said that he owned 4,000 acres on which his home was erected at Bluewater Creek. He stated that he had never been in any trouble before.

Baker told the Court that the Australian Army had walked on to his property without any prior advice in May 1942 and established a camp there. Baker said they moved out about 6 months later. Baker said that the Americans then moved in and established a township. They used his timber, but he never received any rent for the property or any compensation of any kind.

Frank Baker advised that the last American Officer was Colonel Squire whom he spoke with at his Headquarters. The Colonel said that it (I assume he meant the timber) was wet and slushy and that he could not burn it off and asked if he minded leaving it. The Colonel gave him some buildings that were there and told him everything was his to do what he liked. He signed the statement after the Colonel had sent 30 men out to fill in the drains.. There were 120 chains of fencing, completely gone, and a long drain about 700 to 800 yards that had not been filled in.

Although Baker had not received any letter stating the Army had taken over the property, he had received a letter from the Army Hirings Department stating they had ceased occupation of his property. Baker said that he had lost a lot of stuff from the dump and the West End Police had been out two or three times. Baker said the last time the Air Force had come out it was found they had taken away a ramp and some timber. Baker claimed the blankets and the drums with some oil in as his property. He said they were things he was told that he could have if he signed the Release.

Mr. Roberts tendered a letter from Army Hirings Department date 11 August 1944 which read as follows:- "

Relative to your letter 15th July, 19, lodging a claim on behalf of Mr. Baker and a further discussion in your office in relation thereto, it is advised that Mr. Baker was interviewed by an officer of the United States Army before the area was vacated. It was agreed that the property had been policed and vacated in a manner to Mr. Baker's complete satisfaction and that no damage had been caused to his property. A certificate of release was signed by Mr. Baker to this effect. As regards loss of timber, this office has been advised by the Land Commissioner that under the lease the timber is the property of the Crown but the lessee has the right to use all he requires for erecting improvements on the selection."

Mr. Roberts stated to Sub-Inspector Gannon:-

"The clearance was his authority claiming everything that was left. There was mud and dirt all over the blankets and they had been trampled in the ground when he got them. He had never inspected the oil in the drums since he had got it, until the Police came out. There had been some barbed wire reported missing, but later it was found."

Fran's wife, Mary Ann Baker, stated that whilst the American Army was on site she and her daughters did the washing for the Americans from October 1943 until March 1944. The towels had been left behind by the Americans and she did not know where the owners were. She and the children found the blankets on one of the dumps. They were filthy, all covered in mud and she had boiled them three times. Mary Ann also had seen the drums of oil at the dump.

Roberts told Sub-Inspector Gannon:-

"She had never used the towels. They had been left there between January and March. Colonel Squire told her husband he could have anything in the dump. She seldom read the police court news in the paper. She had been convicted and ordered to enter in a bond of 10 Pounds in regard to some missing barbed wire."

Mr. Roberts stated that he attended an interview with Hirings Department when Frank Baker was asked not to press for the removal of the dump and he could have anything that was in them.

Frank Baker, who pleaded "Not Guilty" was represented by Mr. G.V. Roberts of Solicitors Roberts, Leu and North who appeared on his behalf. Sub-Inspector Gannon conducted the prosecution. The complaint was dismissed and Mr. Roberts advised that Frank Baker would claim the property under Section 39.

NOTE:- The Newspaper Article in the Townsville Bulletin calls the Defendant Fred Baker at the start of the article and then calls him Frank Baker towards the end of the Article. After a few searches on Trove, I have decided the stay with his name as Frank Baker who was a fettler who lived at Argea. Frank may have had at least the following children:- a son Frank Baker and daughters Doreen Baker, Thelma Baker, Phyllis Baker and Theresa Baker. Doreen Baker married Mr. D.W. Campbell on 31 May 1947. Thelma Ceclia Bridget Baker (QFX63478) joined the Australian Army Medical Women's Services A.A.M.W.S. on 2 April 1945.

 


 

Townsville Daily Bulletin Tuesday 22 December 1942, Page 2

Bucking mules, donkeys dozing and donkey races - athletic events, featuring some of the State's best track performers, and swimming championships are scheduled on the programme of military sports being held as Bluewater on the afternoon of January 2. The Army, Air Force and representatives of the U.S. Army are competing in the male events, and there will also be a complete programme of women's events, with the entrants drawn from the A.W.A.S. and W.A.A.A.F. Special rail transport will be provided to Argea Siding, about 300 yards from the scene of the meeting. Afternoon tea facilities will be available. To interest the younger fry of Townsville, goat races appear on the programme. Arrangements are being made to transport the "steeds" and riders for this event, and entries may be left addressed "Goat Races" care of the "Townsville Bulletin". Further details of the afternoon will be announced in later issues of this paper.

 

Townsville Daily Bulletin Saturday 26 December 1942, Page 2

The new year - New Year's Day is next Friday - will open in great style at Bluewater, when the Army, U.S. and Australian, the R.A.A.F., the W.A.A.A.F., and A.W.A.S. will unite for a monster sports carnival. Mules that have never carried a saddle will try to empty out some of the boys from the West and some of the "Hopalong" Cassidys in the ranks of our ally. Track events have drawn crack competitors, and there is no dearth of talent to swim the lanes at Bluewater. The U.S. Army and Australian Army are both supplying bands. Afternoon tea arrangements have been made, and special rail transport will be available to Argea Siding, close to the sports arena. Details of this service will be announced during the week. The sports, which open at 2 p.m., bids fair to be one of the main shows, of the coming year.

 


 

7 SQUADRON RAAF PICNIC AT BLUEWATER CREEK, TOWNSVILLE

 


Photo:- LAC Leonard James "Len" Storey (52163)

7 Squadron RAAF Picnic at Bluewater Creek


Photo:- LAC Leonard James "Len" Storey (52163)

7 Squadron RAAF Picnic at Bluewater Creek

 


Photo:- LAC Leonard James "Len" Storey (52163)

7 Squadron RAAF Picnic at Bluewater Creek

 


Photo:- LAC Leonard James "Len" Storey (52163)

LAC Leonard James "Len" Storey (52163) and "Chas"

 

Does anyone know the exact location
of the Camp at Bluewater?

 

REFERENCES

U.S. Army. 227th Anti-aircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion - On Target

"A Complaint Dismissed: - Townsville Daily Bulletin Friday 24 November 1944, page 5

Townsville Daily Bulletin Tuesday 22 December 1942, Page 2

Townsville Daily Bulletin Saturday 26 December 1942, Page 2

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Jim Dooley for his assistance with this home page. Jim's father was a T/Sgt in the 166th AAA Gun Battalion.

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

I'd like to thank David Storey for his assistance with this home page. His father LAC Leonard James "Len" Storey (52163) was an engine mechanic with 7 Squadron RAAF.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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This page first produced 12 September 2004

This page last updated 12 February 2017