ST. ANNE'S CHURCH OF ENGLAND GIRLS SCHOOL,
TOWNSVILLE, QLD, DURING WW2
St. Anne's Church of England Girls' School in Townsville was acquired by the Australian Army for use as WAAAF Barracks' accommodation during WW2.
One of the early WAAAF members that was billeted at St. Anne's remembered being led to a very old building where there was a large pile of straw and some palliasses. They were told to fill up the mattresses with the straw and sleep on the floor. After a few months they moved to a different building where they were provided with WW1 vintage iron beds.
The first 20 WAAAFs were posted to Townsville between 28 October 1941 and 7 February 1942 to work at the North-Eastern Area Headquarters in Sturt Street. They were urgently required to fill the roles of teleprinter operators and general clerks. This initial intake of WAAAFs in the area were living in various homes or flats in Townsville. The Officer-in-Charge of WAAAFs in the Townsville area, Assistant Section Officer Yvonne Rentoul established the new WAAAF Barracks in St Anne's. It was a difficult task as Townsville was rapidly filling with American and Australian military units. This influx lead to a shortage of equipment and a demanding role in protecting the well-being of the fresh new female recruits.
On 10 September 1942, the Townsville W/T Station was formed in premises in Sturt Street, Townsville. About 172 WAAAFs were need to operate this W/T Station and its supporting Signals Office, two transmitting stations, a remote receiving station and a shadow signals office. To accommodate these extra WAAAFs the already overcrowded accommodation at the WAAAF Barracks St. Anne's and St. Patrick's on The Strand were extended. Four new accommodation huts and three ablution blocks were erected at St. Anne's to house the signals WAAAFs.
On 8 December 1944, Air Commodore De La Rue, the Air Officer Commanding, North-Eastern Area Headquarters ordered that the WAAAFs had to relocate from St. Anne's and the Townsville Grammar School and eventually from St. Patrick's College and the Little Flower Convent on The Strand to temporary accommodation at the YWCA and at "Currajong", a converted guest house which had been recently vacated by the RAAF. To allow various houses and buildings to be returned to their civilian owners, a WAAAF Base Camp was established at Belgian Gardens in some barracks that had previously been occupied by US military personnel. This consolidated all WAAAFs into one Barracks area.
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 22 June 2002
This page last updated 09 October 2016