3 REPLENISHING CENTRE - RAAF
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

 

The establishment of a Replenishing Centre in the Townsville area was being discussed in early 1941. Wing Commander Boucher, Flying Officer Watford and Mr. A.G. Ellis, representing the Air Services Branch, RAAF Headquarters had selected an area at Reserve 69, Parish of Coonambelah, fairly close to Bohle River outside of Townsville and close under the western end of Mt Louisa. The selected area was located on the northern slopes of Mt Louisa approximately 7 miles by road south west of Townsville situated in the cattle Quarantine Reserve and bordered the Townsville-Ingham Road and the railway line. The site was located 1 1/2 miles from Nightjar railway siding. The RAAF Station Townsville was approximately 4 miles by road.

V.G. Crawford, Inspection Engineer, Work & Services Branch, Department of the Interior wrote to the District Engineer, Main Roads Commission, Townsville on 24 April 1941 nominating the above suggested site and requesting an urgent survey to be carried out in connection with the Lands Department Survey of Reserve 69 and Quarry Reserve R.379.

A Cypher Message from Northern Area to the Air Board in about July 1941 strongly recommended that the proposed site "be abandoned as Militarily insecure".

In about July 1941, Flight Lieutenant J.W. Hurst carried out an inspection of alternative sites for No. 3 Replenishing Centre Townsville in the Charters Towers area at:-

F/Lt Hurst conclusions were as follows:-

  1. The Townsville site is better than that available at Charters Towers and in a more central position to serve the areas proposed
  2. Rail services from Charters Towers to Townsville is vulnerable, particularly the bridges at Burdekin River and Reid River
  3. Road Transport in the event of loss of the railway, would, under present conditions be very difficult and at times impossible
  4. No aerodrome facilities suitable for large aircraft are available at present at Charters Towers.

On his return to Townsville F/Lt Hurst discussed his findings with Air Commodore Lukis, A.O.C. Northern Area and advised him that he intended to recommend the retention of the original site at Townsville on the assumption that strategically the Townsville area was one that was likely to be defended at all costs in the event of an attack and was one in which such operations could be depended upon. F/Lt Hurst had intended to suggest the establishment of a further subsidiary replenishing centre at Charters Towers to be fed through Hughenden to cover any difficulties that may arise in the event of the failure of communications along the coastal Railway.

Following his discussion with Air Commodore Lukis, F/Lt Hurst attended a meeting with the Local defence Co-ordinating Committee which comprised:-

At this meeting it was decided to make immediate representations to expedite the construction of the road between Townsville and Charters Towers and recommend to change the site of No. 3 Replenishing Centre from Townsville to Charters Towers

A requisition for a contour survey of an Aerodrome site at Charters Towers and the proposed Replenishing Centre site at Lincoln Hill was subsequently sent to the Surveyor-General & Chief Property Officer, Department of the Interior on 7 August 1941. The site at Lincoln Hill comprised part of Mining Homestead Perpetual Lease No. 9267 in the name of Ernest Julius Laun of 640 acres located about 5 miles west of Charters Towers.

3 Replenishing Centre - RAAF was established in Townsville on 17 July 1942, with Squadron Leader J.E. Annells as it first Commanding Officer. The headquarters for 3 Replenishment Centre was based in a house commandeered at 4 Park Lane, Hyde Park, Townsville.

An advance party of 3 Replenishing Centre left for the new site at Lincoln Hill near Charters Towers on 23 September 1942. The rest of 3 Replenishing Centre moved to Charters Towers on 6 January 1943. Flying Officer R.B. Brown was appointed as the Commanding Officer of 3 Replenishing Centre on 6 July 1943. Flight Lieutenant J.T. Teague became the new CO in November 1943.

 

No. 3 Replenishment Centre RAAF, Lincoln Hill near Black Jack Road, Charters Towers near Wellington Rail Siding

 

4 Nov 1943: Left to right: F/O R. M. Nugent, adjutant, 3 Replenishing Centre, Sdn Ldr C. E. James, Assistant Staff Officer Administration, North East Area HQ; and F/Lt R. B. Brown, CO of 3 Replenishing Centre.

 

In August 1944, 3 Replenishing Centre was ordered to prepare for the receipt of the complete stocks from 14 Replenishment Centre, 29 OBU and 34 OBU. Personnel built some new shelters and rearranged existing magazines to make as much space available as possible for the new stock which started to arrive in September 1944. 

Personnel from the Unit attended fortnightly local dances and staged their first own formal ball on 30 August 1944. They also took part in many sporting competitions including those with Australian Army units in the area. The unit established its own swimming pool in November 1944. It was refilled by the Charters Towers Council every two weeks. The resourceful personnel of 3 Replenishing Centre built their own shower and sun-house near their new swimming pool.

Water supplies for their camp came from the town reservoir which was pumped from the Burdekin River. During the floods in December 1944, 3 Replenishing Centre borrowed a water purifying tanker to deal with the brown muddy water coming from the town water supply.

3 Replenishing Centre facilitated transport and mess arrangements for the personnel of Charters Towers Wireless/Transmitter Station in January 1945 and the Radio Installation Maintenance Unit detachment who were there to disband the W/T Station.

3 Replenishing Centre took over the High Frequency Direction Finding Station and the Transmitting Station including their 100 cubic foot electric refrigerator which was promptly relocated to the mess building. Five wireless operator mechanics and four wireless maintenance mechanics were taken on strength to operate the HFDF and Transmitting Station.

3 Replenishing Centre took over the Bomb Transhipment Depot site of 6 Transport and Movements Office at Cluden just outside Townsville on 21 March 1945. It was then converted to operate as a detachment of 3 Replenishing Unit.

In July 1945, the Director of Equipment, RAAF HQ, ordered that 3 Replenishing Centre be reduced to a detachment for storing obsolete explosives, stocks and components. In August 1945, there were 2 officers, 5 sergeants, 14 corporals and 78 airmen attached to 3 Replenishing Centre. Flight Lieutenant J.V. Humphreys was appointed as the Commanding Officer of 3 Replenishing Centre on 7 July 1945.

A catastrophe was averted on 4 September 1945, when personnel shifted several stocks of 500 lbs bombs away when a fire broke out in an old mine shaft. The fire was soon brought under control.

On 14 October 1945 advice was received that 3 Replenishing Centre was to disband on 20 October 1945 with all serviceable stock relocated to 13 Aircraft Repair Depot at Breddan. However, the disbandment was deferred. The unit eventually disbanded on 10 November 1945 and was absorbed into 8 Stores Depot as Detachment "C", Charters Towers.

On 10 January 1946, the explosives storage area of the former No. 3 Replenishing Centre at Charters Towers was taken over and renamed 8 Stores Depot, Detachment "C", "J" Group Storage Area.

The Cluden Detachment was disbanded on 9 November 1945 with all remaining equipment being issued to other units or returned to 3 Replenishing Centre at Charters Towers.

On 20 April 1946 holdings and issuing functions of 8 Stores Depot stopped to allow the depot to concentrate on disposal activities. 8 Stores Depot was disbanded on 28 February 1949. The remaining staff and assets became 10 (GR) Squadron Detachment "C", while the "J" Group explosives storage site at Charters Towers became 10 Squadron, Detachment "A" which continued to operate until 9 June 1960.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Units of the Royal Australian Air Force, A Concise History"
"Volume 6 - Logistics Units"
Complied by RAAF Historical Section

 

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This page first produced 18 July 1998

This page last updated 05 September 2015