QUARTERMASTER POULTRY FARM
AT "COCONUT GROVE", OONOONBA,
TOWNSVILLE, QLD
DURING WWII

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With the large numbers of US service personnel in the Townsville area, the supply of eggs and chickens had become acute. The Quartermaster, US Army established a Poultry Farm or Chicken Farm at the "Coconut Grove" near the Experimental Station at Oonoonba on the outskirts of Townsville near Rooney's Bridge over Ross River.

Day old chickens were bought with the ultimate aim of achieving 45,000 laying hens producing 20,000 eggs per day.

In February 1943, the Chicken Farm produced a total of 38 cases of eggs, the first output since the commencement of the project. There were 16,997 chickens residing at that point in time. Production rate improved and reached 102 cases per week or 36,720 eggs per week.

During July - September 1943, the QM Chicken Farm increased its capacity to attempt to handle the target of 45,000 chickens. Additional pens and camps were built. There were 17,000 chickens at the farm at this point in time.

After July 1943 there were sufficient fresh eggs to give each man in the Townsville area two eggs each on a Monday.

The Chicken Farm (also known as the "Chicken Ranch") also provided fresh eggs and table birds to the Army hospitals. Building work on site was not extensive, but water supply provided some major challenges. The Chicken Farm was operated by the 301st Quartermaster Company. A Greens Farm was also established to provide sufficient green food for the chickens.

The supervision, sanitation and control of fowl disease at the Base Quartermaster Chicken Farm was carried out by the Veterinary Section. As new flocks arrived, vaccination for fowl pox was carried out when the chickens were 8 to 12 weeks old. Any unusual conditions or outbreak of disease were noted and attended to. All post mortems of deceased chickens were carried out by the Veterinarians attached to the 8th Medical Laboratory.

Mr. Edward "Eddie" Francis Minehane, who worked at the Townsville Harbour Board, was approached by Man Power authorities and became the Poultry Farm Manager working for the US Quartermaster. Mr. MInehane owned prize chickens and would compete at the Townsville, Ingham and Innisfail shows before and after the war. Eddie Minehane was well known in the Poultry and Kennel Associations in North Queensland and was a Life Member of several Associations as well as the Townsville Pastoral and Agricultural Association.

Mr Minehane was at the Chicken Farm location when the Japanese bomb exploded on the Experimental Farm in the early hours of 29 July 1942 breaking a coconut tree in half.

When Eddie's daughter, Betty received her First Communion at old St. Margaret Mary's Church school two of the Americans accompanied the Minehane family to the Church. The two Americans were Owen (Scotty) Thompson and Joseph A Kocurek.  They presented Betty with a Missal which she still has today.

When the Chicken Farm closed and the Americans moved forward to New Guinea, the Americans asked Mr. Minehane to go with them. He was unable to go due to family reasons.

Eddie Minehane was presented with a lovely Fob Watch for his services when he terminated his services with the US Army. The Minehane family were never short of anything during the War as he was looked after well by the Americans.

 

Townsville Daily Bulletin 11 November 1943

TOWNSVILLE HARBOUR BOARD

The National Service Officer wrote asking the nature of the work being performed by Mr. E.F. Minehane to assist in arriving at a decision in regard to an application for his release to act as poultry farm manager for the U.S. Army."

Mr. Tomlins suggested that the Board should reconsider the circumstances and their decision.

The Chairman said they could not allow men to leave just to secure the higher wages.

Mr. Wordsworth said surely they could find a poultry expert among their Army.

Mr. Arida said there was a great danger in establishing a precedent.

After lengthy discussion it was decided no action should be taken, the matter being left in the hands of the National Service Officer.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"The Bayonet of Australia" - History of Base Section 2

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Betty Partridge (nee Minehane) for her assistance with this web page.

 

 

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 15 July 2013

This page last updated 16 July 2013