NAVAL MAGAZINE TOWNSVILLE, US NAVY
AITKENVALE, TOWNSVILLE, QLD
DURING WWII

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The construction of the Naval Magazine for the US Navy in Townsville, north Queensland was authorised on 10 May 1943. The magazine was located at Aitkenvale near the Stock Route airfield in Townsville. The Naval Magazine was connected to the nearby US Air Depot USAD telephone exchange.

 


Extract of NAA Plan

Building No. 1 is the Sleeping Hut and Building No. 2 is the Recreation Hall and Mess.
Building No. 3 is the Ablutions Block, Building No. 4 is the Tool Room, and Building
No. 5 is the Detonator House. The two Magazines are shown at top right of the plan.
The above Plan has North at the bottom of the Plan & the photo below has North at the top.

 


1952 Aerial Photo - TCC Mosaic

Remains of the USN Magazine can be seen to left of the two igloos. Magazine No 1
appears to be still in-situ and some remains appear to be in the position of
Magazine No 2. The Tool Room, Building No. 4, appears to be still there as well.

 


2000 Aerial Photo - TCC Mosaic

This is a view of the same area in the year 2000. I've marked the approximate locations of Magazine
Nos. 1 and 2 under Finerty Street. The two Igloos were under the houses to the immediate right of the
 park on the other side of Mill Drive. Heatley High School is partly visible at the far left of the photograph.

The Magazine initially comprised two 20 ft x 50 ft Ordnance Magazine huts along with two light wood frame buildings 18 ft x 50 ft for barracks and mess hall. These two latter buildings were built from local materials. Local Australian labour, possibly from the Civil Construction Corps, was used to construct the Magazine under the supervision of the Company Commander, Company "C" of the 55th Naval Construction Battalion. The work was completed on 23 August 1943. 

 


Extract of NAA Plan

Building No. 1 - Sleeping Hut

 


Extract of NAA Plan

Building No. 2 - Recreation and Mess

 

The Naval Magazine was later enlarged by an extra two Ordnance Magazine huts.

The "History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940 - 1946" has the following entry:-

"A naval magazine, 45 miles from Townsville, was completed August 23,1943. It consisted of four, prefabricated magazine huts and two wooden-frame buildings for barracks and mess hall. Local labor and some local materials were used."

The above states that the Magazine was located 45 miles from Townsville which seems to conflict with all other known information.

The War Diary for Commander Service Force, Seventh Fleet shows that Field Torpedo Unit No. 28 arrived in Brisbane from overseas on 24 March 1943 and moved from Brisbane to Townsville on 30 April 1943. The War Diary noted that "Works requisitions have been submitted for the erection of magazines for reserve ammunition at TOWNSVILLE."

Field Torpedo Unit No 28 with a compliment of 12 men and 1 officer were based at the US Naval Magazine at Aitkenvale.

The Naval Magazine was part of the US Navy Base in Townsville which comprised:-

The US Navy Base in Townsville remained in operation until July 1944 when a detachment form Company "D" of the 84th Naval Construction Battalion started to dismantle the base and pack it up to be relocated to a forward area.

The War Diary entry for Naval Section Base, Townsville dated 29 June 1944 has the following entry:-

"The last of the ammunition stored in the U.S. Naval Magazine, Townsville, was shipped to other depots and the Magazine was announced as officially closes. All ammunition, igloos and equipment to be completely dismantled and sent to forward area."

The local soccer club helped to clear and prepare the soccer fields in the park adjacent to Heatley High School. When they dug up and levelled the field, they found numerous small aircraft parts and instruments.  It was thought that the area may have been a collection point for scrap during or after the war.

It is possible that the two Magazine huts may have been Armco shelters constructed from self-supporting heavy gauge arched and ribbed metal sheeting often used for storage shelters. They are then usually covered with soil and grass as a form of camouflage and to provide some protection.

The above Armco Ordnance Magazine hut was located
at the Darra RAN Ammunition Dump in Brisbane

 

NOTE:-  The War Diary for Commander Service Force, Seventh Fleet shows that Lt. (jg) OVS J. F. Schipper (141229) was appointed Commanding Officer of Mobile Torpedo Unit (MTU #28) on 1 May 1943. I assume this is the same as Field Torpedo Unit No. 28.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Gina Nichols for her assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank Mel Dundas-Taylor and John Cotter for their assistance with this web page.

 

 

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 4 September 2013

This page last updated 05 September 2013