HEADQUARTERS, U.S. ARMY BASE SECTION NO. 3 - BRISBANE
SOMERVILLE HOUSE, APO 923

 

On 28 December 1941, Lt. Gen. George H. Brett arrived in Australia to take command of all United States forces. General Barnes was his Chief of Staff and General Brereton was in command of all Air Forces.

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

Somerville House

 

The Americans headquarters moved from Brisbane to Melbourne. The Americans however needed to establish an organisation structure to distribute supplies and personnel throughout Australia. They set up what was known as numbered Base Sections of the United States Armed Forces in Australia (USAFIA). Base Section 3 covered the southern half of Queensland with its headquarters established in Somerville House in Brisbane.

 

bs3a.jpg (71667 bytes)
Photo: Lt. Mark T. Muller, Signal Corps (via Bill Bentson)

Headquarters, U.S. Army Base Section No. 3, Somerville
House, Brisbane, March 1942. This building was the school library.

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Somerville House, January 2002

 

Base Section No. 3 Headquarters were established in Brisbane at Somerville House in Vulture Street in the suburb of South Brisbane. Somerville House was an exclusive girls' boarding school before the war. The pupils were relocated to let the Americans take over the school.

The Americans erected a large flagpole in the school grounds on the high ground near Vulture Street. It is still there today.

The Office of the Provost Marshall - Base Section No. 3 was located in the adjacent South Brisbane Municipal Chambers.

 


Photo: Lt. Mark T. Muller, Signal Corps (via Bill Bentson)

During an air raid drill at Somerville House in 1942. The post
with the siren is still standing at the school but in a new location.
The iron bar hanging down has gone. It was used to bang on
with a metal rod for the air raid alarm, as well at the siren. The
low white fence in the background of the photo is still there today.

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

Modern day photo taken from approximately the same location as
the above photograph. A new building has since appeared on the
right. You can still see the original low timber rail fence.

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

The air raid drill post in its new location

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

Closeup of the original air raid siren

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

An even closer look at the old air raid siren

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

An original WW2 sign used by the Americans at Somerville House during WW2.

 


Image number: gen00001 - State Library of Queensland

American soldier Lt. Mark Muller in an air-raid shelter
at Somerville House, Brisbane, in May 1942

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

The US Flag Pole still located at Somerville House

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

"Erected by United States Army during the Second World War June 1943"

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

"This Flagpole was restored by the Queensland Committee
for the American Bi-Centennial Celebration 1976"

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

The verandas were enclosed by the Americans during their stay at Somerville House

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Sep 2006

These verandas were also enclosed by the Americans during WW2

 

In December 1942, the Military Telephone Directory for Brisbane shows the following details for units at Somerville House:-

BASE SECTION THREE
HEADQUARTERS, SOMERVILLE HOUSE

COMMANDING OFFICER:
    Col. Wm. H. Donaldson, Jr.

EXECUTIVE OFFICER:
    Lt. Col. W.K. Shyne

ADJUTANT'S OFFICE:
   
Adjutant:
        Major E.R. Lodge
    Assistant Adjutant:
        Major W.S. Hunter (Personnel)
        Capt. J.B. Berry, Jr. (Personnel)
        Lt. H.B. Wallace, Jr.
        Lt. G.J. Mandina (Personnel-Officer's Section)
    Civilian Personnel
    Sergeant Major
    Locator Section
    Enlisted Men's Section:
        S/Sgt. Johnson
    Mail & Distribution Section:
        Sgt. Perlin
    Publications & Mimeograph
    Radio & Cable Section:
        Sgt. Latch
    Special Orders:
        Sgt. Schwering
    Stenographic Pool

AIR CORPS:
    Base Air Corps Officers - Somerville House
        Major E. Hicks

CHEMICAL (Somerville House):
    Chemical Officer:
        Lt. Col. B.D. Willis
    Asst. Chemical Officer:
        Major R.W. Smith
        Capt. I.R. Mollen
    Chemical Supply Officer:
        Capt. I.R. Mollen

HEADQUARTERS COMMANDANT (Somerville House)
    Capt. E.F. Swallesh
    Mess Accountant:
        Mrs. D.E. Peters
    Hq. Detachment Section:
        T/Sgt Swett
    Hq. Detachment Orderly Room (Hibernian Hall)
        Commanding Officer:
            Lt. Harlan Emerson
            Lt. W.E. Gaby
    Property Officer:
        Lt. H.F. Smith

INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE (Somerville House)
        Col. C.F.F. Cooper
    Asst. Base Inspector:
        Lt. Col. E.F. Henneman
        Capt. Lynn W. Norman

INTELLIGENCE (Somerville House)
        Major J.W. Schermerhorn
    Assistant:
        Lt. L. Shull
    Office

INVESTIGATION & CLAIMS BOARD NO. 1 (Somerville House)
        Major C.E. Lange
        Lt. S.C. Culuris

INVESTIGATION & CLAIMS BOARD NO. 2 (Somerville House)
        Lt. Col. L. Smith
        Capt. Kimball

JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL'S DEPT. (Somerville House)
        Staff Judge Advocate:
            Major A. VanBorkum
        Assistant Judge Advocate:
            Capt. W.H. Johnson
            Lt/ E.D. Whipple
        Investigation Officer:
            Lt. E.A. DeAmann

MEDICAL (Somerville House)
       
Surgeon:
            Col. F.H. Petters
        Executive Officer:
            Major A.E. Miller

        BASE DISPENSARY:
            Ambulance Dispatcher
            Attending Surgeon:
                Major H.C. Johnson
            Asst. Attending Surgeons:
                Capt. E. Guralnick
                Capt. C.H. Jones
                Lt. A.W. Miles
                Lt. L.S. Ellenbogen
            Dental Clinin:
                Dental Surgeon:
                    Major S.Z. Stern
                Asst. Dental Surgeon:
                    Capt. S.B. Levadi
                    Lt. E. Hewitt
                    Lt. R.E. Walker
                    Lt. Richdorf

                SURGEON'S OFFICE:
                    Surgeon:
                        Col. F.H. Petters
                    Executive Officer
                        Major A.E. Miller
                    Dental Section:
                        Section Chief:
                            Major H.N. Burgin
                    Hospitalization & Evacuation Section:
                        Section Chief:
                            Capt. H.L. Dworak
                        Asst. Section Chief:
                            Lt. S.B. Furby
                        Chief Clerk:
                            Cpl. J.R. Bartelme
                        Nursing Section:
                            Lt. Will. L. Hook
                        Personnel Section:
                            Section Chief - Adjutant:
                                Capt. J.I. Limburg, Jr.
                            Asst. Section Chief - Asst. Adj.:
                                Capt. L.E. Josselyn
                            Asst. Chief of Personnel:
                                Lt. G.L. Mross
                        Sanitation & Vital Statistics Section:
                            Section Chief:
                                Major J.H. Stegen
                            Venereal Disease Control Officer:
                                Lt. Col. T.A. Davis
                            Chief Clerk:
                                S/Sgt. C.J. Adriansen
                            Supply & Fiscal Section:
                                Section Chief:
                                    Major John D. Blair
                                Asst. Section Chief:
                                    Lt. C.D. McKown
                            Veterinary Section:
                                Port Veterinarian:
                                    Capt. A.M. Snyder
                                Section Chief:
                                    Major E.M. Crawford
                                Asst. Section Chiefs:
                                    Capt. A.M. Snyder
                                    Lt. Ivan E. Amerine
                                Veterinary School

SIGNAL OFFICE (Somerville House)
  
 Signal Officer:
        Lt. Col. F.J. Andrews
    Administrative Officer:
        Lt. V.L. Miller
    Message Center:
        T/Sgt. Harris
    Personnel Section:
        Lt. V.L. Miller
    Port Signal Office (Bretts)
        Lt. Durand
    Radio Centra'
    Radio Officer:
        Capt. J. MacNamara
        Trick Chief
    Signal Property Officer:
        Lt. C.E. Weller
    Switchboard Room:
    Telephone Section:
        Telephone Officer:
            Major E.E. Howard
        Telephone Operating Personnel Section:
            Mrs. M. Foord
        Directory Information:
            Col. H.E. Spencer
        Teletype Room

SUPPLY OFFICERS
    Medical (Somerville House)
        Major J.D. Blair

TRIAL JUDGE ADVOCATE (Somerville House)
    Lt. E.D. Whipple

TROOP STAGING OFFICER (Somerville House)
        Col. J.P. Crehan
    Assistants:
        Major W. Perry (Doomben)
        Capt. S.S. Owens (Doomben)

TROOP MOVEMENT OFFICER (Somerville House)
        Major H.S. Ives

Mrs. M. Foord was in charge of the Telephone Operation Personnel Section in Base Section No. 3. There were a number of Military Telephone Exchanges around Brisbane including Bataan Exchange in Lennons Hotel in George Street. Mrs Foord can be seen below with her "Bataan Operators" at the Bataan Exchange. Mrs. M. Foord would have also looked after the AMP Exchange.

 


Photo supplied by Murielle Ahern (nee McGrath)

"Bataan" Operators

L - R Back Row:-    Lynn McDougall, Mona Power, Janet Thompson, Moya Busch, Irene Hutchinson
L - R Front Row:-   Molly Hartman, Mrs Foord, Murielle McGrath
Operators Absent:-    Feo Glynn, Ailsa Craig, Margaret (Truker?) Taylor, Margaret Martin, Lindy Berg

 

bostrom.jpg (23643 bytes)
Photo: from the Muller Collection (supplied by Bill Bentson)

Captain Frank Bostrom (on left), of the US Army Air Corps, pilot of the B-17 Flying Fortress that brought General Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines. Lieutenant Mark Muller (on right), US Army Signal Corps, Assistant Signal Officers, HQS. Base 3 Somerville House, April 1942

 

Lieutenant Mark T. Muller arrived in Brisbane on the Pensacola Convoy on 23 December 1941.  Mark served as a Signal Officer at Base Section 3, at Somerville House.  Mark met his wife Helen Hoffman at the 153rd Station Hospital, at the Southport Boys School, when Mark was a patient there. Helen Muller (nee Hoffman) passed away on 7 July 2004.

In May 1944, the Military Telephone Directory for Brisbane shows the following details for the Signal Office at Somerville House.

BASE SECTION THREE
    SIGNAL OFFICE (Somerville House)
        832nd Signal Service Detachment, A.P.O. 923:
            Commanding Officer:
                Capt. Ankrum, A.M.
            Executive Officer:
                Lt. Glenn, W.A.
            Supply & Mess Officer
            Orderly Room

There have been many unconfirmed rumours over the years of tunnels running from Somerville House across to St Laurence's School.

 

American Base Sections in Australia during WW2

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Kate Bottger, Murielle Ahern (nee McGrath) and Bill Bentson for their assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE

"They Passed This Way"
by Barry Ralph

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

Disclaimer

Please e-mail me
any information or photographs


"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

 

This page first produced 20 August 2000

This page last updated 26 September 2015