USAF MILITARY CEMETERY IPSWICH
IPSWICH, QLD DURING WWII

 

US Armed Forces Cemetery - Ipswich

 

USAF Military Cemetery at Ipswich, November 1945

 

The same location on 11 August 2004

 

The US Armed Forces (USAF) Cemetery Ipswich was located on Cemetery Road not far from the main Ipswich Cemetery. Today there is a small white monument in the centre of Manson Park, which is located about 200 meters east of the Ipswich Cemetery. A plaque was placed on this monument in 1971 by Major J. Watson, USAF "to honour the American Servicemen who paid the supreme sacrifice during WWII". This monument was originally the base of the flag pole in the first photograph above.

In the early planning stages for this large US Cemetery one of the other options considered was an area at Moorooka. 

 

USAF Military Cemetery at Ipswich

 

Manson Park at Ipswich on 11 August 2004

 

Plaque near the entrance to Manson Park

 

The base of the original flag pole in Manson Park

 

The top plaque on the flag pole base

 

The lower plaque on the flag pole base

 

The first American to be buried in this cemetery was Private Paul Strange who died in May 1942. The last American buried at this cemetery was Paul L. Smith. A total of 1,260 service personnel were buried there.

Kenneth Downs, CM3, #2451094, from New Jersey, of the 77th Construction Battalion, US Navy (Seabees), was buried at the Ipswich military cemetery during WWII.

 

This may possibly be the funeral of Kenneth Downs, CM3, #2451094, from New Jersey, of the
77th Construction Battalion, US Navy (Seabees) (can anyone please confirm if this is at Ipswich?)

 

This may possibly be the funeral of Kenneth Downs, CM3, #2451094, from New Jersey, of the
77th Construction Battalion, US Navy (Seabees) (can anyone please confirm if this is at Ipswich?)

 

This may possibly be the funeral of Kenneth Downs, CM3, #2451094, from New Jersey, of the
77th Construction Battalion, US Navy (Seabees) (can anyone please confirm if this is at Ipswich?)

 

During WW2, Americans who were killed or died in Australia were buried in local cemeteries, but in 1947, the bodies from around Australia were exhumed and temporarily reinterred at the USAF Cemetery at Ipswich or at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney. Then eventually all of these bodies were exhumed again and taken back to the United States. 190 Australian civilians, mostly cane cutters, were employed to exhume the bodies at Ipswich. They erected a four meter high canvas fence around the cemetery. The civilian workers were instructed to observe strict decorum.

The 9105th Technical Service Unit was established in the American spring of 1947 to carry out disinterments in Hawaii and the Pacific area. It comprised 8 Field Operating Sections which were dispatched in whole or in part to carryout exhumations. The 9105th TSU arrived in Brisbane

The American ship USAT Goucher Victory arrived in Brisbane on 17 November 1947 to take the bodies back to America. Three Field Operating Sections and one third of the Mobile Port Company of the 9105th Technical Service Unit disembarked without the need for the customary passport requirements which had been waived. Housing and messing facilities, a motor pool area and procurement of fuels and lubricants were all organised. USA Goucher Victory was unloaded by 20 November 1947. American Civilian workers assisting the 9105th Technical Service Unit were quartered at Amberley Airfield. Australian clerical workers were assigned to Field Operating Sections. Exhumations commenced on 25 November 1947.

The USAT Walter Schwenk arrived in Brisbane on 26 November 1947 with a cargo of 1,896 final-type caskets, hardening compound and other technical mortuary supplies. Unloading operations on USAT Walter Schwenk commenced on 27 November 1947.

United States Mausoleum No. 4 was established at Redbank about 8 miles from the Ipswich Cemetery and was used as a processing centre. A commercial carrying company was used to transport the caskets from the Cemetery to the Mausoleum. The Grave Registration planners had not allowed for the wet weather that can be normal at that time of year. Major afternoon and evening storms created terrible working conditions for the workers who soon discovered that the water table was less than 5 feet from the surface. The thick clay they encountered made things even worse. The work to remove the bodies at both Rookwood and Ipswich was finished by 20 December 1947.

Caskets from Rookwood were transported by train to Brisbane. Caskets were always hidden from the view of the public by tarpaulin covers. An American ex serviceman living in Australia was hired to escort the caskets to Mausoleum No. 4 at Redbank. Caskets from both Rookwood (465 souls) and Ipswich (1,406 souls) were then loaded onboard USAT Goucher Victory in the Brisbane River.

A ceremony was held in the Brisbane City Hall on 22 December 1947 to honour the American dead. A coffin containing the body of an unknown American soldier was paraded ceremoniously on a gun carriage through Brisbane King George Square where the cortege stopped in front of City Hall where wreaths were laid by officers of the Australian Commonwealth Government, the Brisbane City Council, various patriotic organisations and the American Consul. The parade was watched by approximately 30,000 Brisbane residents. The cortege then moved to Newstead Wharf where Taps were sounded and three volleys fired.

The caskets containing US servicemen left Brisbane on board USAT Goucher Victory before Christmas 1947. USAT Goucher Victory then travelled to Guadalcanal where the caskets were unloaded and loaded onto the USAT Cardinal O'Connell along with 3, 346 souls recovered from Guadalcanal which then travelled to Hawaii.

Amongst these bodies, was Melbourne's infamous "Brownout Strangler", Eddie Leonski. He had been initially buried 3 times in two segregated sites in Springvale Cemetery. In May 1945, his remains were recovered and he was buried in the USAF Cemetery at Ipswich. 

In 1948, a group of American officers travelled across Australia and New Guinea recovering remains from crashed aircraft. They also searched for the site of the USS Peary, sunk in Darwin Harbour on 19 February 1942.

Manson Park was named after local resident Mrs Rose Manson, who lovingly looked after the graves during WW2, and wrote letters to the families of those buried in the USAF Military Cemetery at Ipswich.

The officer in charge of the US War Graves Unit, Captain J.B. Harris wrote the the Ipswich Cemetery Trust thanking it for "accomplishing a resting place for our beloved deceased prior to their repatriation to their homeland and final resting place."

 

US Military Cemetery Townsville
located at Belgian Gardens, Townsville, QLD

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Yanks down Under 1941-45, The American Impact"
by E. Daniel Potts & Annette Potts

"Ipswich Remembers - Military Heritage of Ipswich from the 1860s to the 1990s"
Written by Robyn Buchanan

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 3 June 2004

This page last updated 09 October 2016