CAMP COLUMBIA
AT WACOL IN BRISBANE
DURING WW2

 

Camp Columbia was the name of the American camp at Wacol in Brisbane. It was initially built by the U.S. Army, and was then taken over by the Australian Army, after the Second World War. The first unit stationed there was the 738th MP Battalion. The Officers Candidate School was there from 1942-1945. The Sixth US Army Headquarters was also stationed there.

Private Norbert Grant of C Company of the 738th MP Battalion and other members of the 738th became embroiled in the so called Battle of Brisbane which raged over 2 nights in the central business district of Brisbane in late November 1942.

Company "M" of the 29th Quartermaster Regiment (Truck) later known as the 3452nd Quartermaster Truck Company arrived at Camp Columbia on 14 June 1942 from Sydney. The usual camp duties were performed at Camp Columbia from 14 June to 20 June 1942. At 0830 hours on 21 June 1942, Companies "L" and "M" of the 29th QM Regiment and the 1st Platoon and 2nd Platoon of Company "K" left Camp Columbia by motor vehicle enroute to Mt. Isa.

Regimental Headquarters of the 29th Quartermaster Regiment (Truck), with the 3rd Battalion moved into Brisbane from Mt. Isa. Their move to Camp Columbia west of Brisbane was completed by rail on 26 October 1942. Company "M" of the 29th Quartermaster Regiment (Truck) later known as the 3452nd Quartermaster Truck Company returned to Camp Columbia on 28 October 1942 and then relocated to the newly completed Camp Freeman at Richlands on 20 February 1943.

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Capt. E. H. Lowe, the first black graduate from OCS in the SWPA, pins insignia on 2nd Lt. James B. Morris, Des Moines, Iowa at OCS graduation exercise held at Camp Columbia, Brisbane, on 29 Jun 43.  Signal Corps Photo: GHQ SWPA SC 43 7037 (T/4 Harold Hoffman)

 

As the hospital facilities at the 42nd General Hospital at Stuartholme did not have enough room to handle the patients sent to them, a second hospital site was established at Camp Columbia about 12 miles away by road shortly after the 42nd General Hospital began operating at Stuartholme. The Hospital at Camp Columbia was also known as Section II and also as the convalescent section. The nurses, doctors, and enlisted men rotated through the convalescent section at Camp Columbia. 

The Hospital at Camp Columbia was essentially divided into three sections:-

The 42nd General Hospital's newspaper "Stethoscope" of 19 May 1943 noted that the Malaria Section had the most patients. The nurses left the Hospital at Camp Columbia in August 1943 [1] to return to Stuartholme. The remaining members of Section II moved to the new hospital at Holland Park on 21 October 1943 [2] . The officers in charge of the Hospital at Camp Columbia included Major William Walker (the first and last officer-in-charge), Major Simon Bager, Captain Crawford, and Captain Muller.

The October 1943 Brisbane Military telephone Directory shows the 42nd General Hospital (Section II) at Camp Columbia under Commanding Officer Major R.B. Mitchell.

The Hospital at Camp Columbia comprised the following:-

BUILDING SIZE OF BUILDING
Headquarters Building 20' x 100'
Pharmacy & Laboratory 20' x 60'
Physiotherapy 20' x 100'
Nurses Quarters 20' x 100'
Nurses Quarters 20' x 60'
Nurses Bath House & Latrine 20' x 20'
P.X and Post Office 20' x 100'
Recreation Hall 40' x 100'
Surgery 40' x 100'
Wards 2 off 20' x 100'
Isolation Ward 20' x 100'
Mess & Kitchen 70' x 130'
Supply Building 20' x 100'
Butchers Shop 15' x 30'
Nurses Rest House 30' x 54' (existing house)
Bath House (20 head) 3 off 16' x 30'
Bath House (8 head) 16' x 18'
Ablution 22 tap 9' x 33'
Ablution 32 tap 9' x 38'
Ablution 24 tap 9' x 27'
Ablution 12 tap 9' x 14'
Ablution 10 tap 9' x 14'
Latrines 12 hole 4 off 14' x 26'
Latrine 6 hole 14' x 16'
Latrine 3 hole 2 off 8' x 12'
Latrine 2 hole 2 off 7' x 9'
Bath Use Latrine ? ? 20' x 20'
Officers Quarters (existing house) 32' x 38'
Workshop (existing building) 9'6" x 16'
Shed (existing)  
Oil and Grease Stores (prefab masonite huts) 2 off 10' x 16'
Greasing Rack 11' x 24'
Car Wash - Concrete 16' x 27'
Ward Tent Frames 30 off 16' x 48'
Pyramidal Tent Frames 20 off 16' x 16'
Telephone Exchange (existing house) 36' x 42'

 

Plan view of Hospital area
at Camp Columbia

The May 1944 Brisbane Military telephone Directory shows that the 91st Station Hospital was located at Camp Columbia under Commanding Officer Major J.W. Christie.

 

Honour Stone at Homestead Park, Forest Lake
To commemorate the presence of US troops at Camp Columbia,
Camp Freeman and the Darra Ordnance Ammunition Depot

 

Former Wacol Army Base
Another Internet site by David Taylor

 

Can anyone help me with some more information on Camp Columbia?

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Noel Wallis and Bill Bentson of Brisbane for their kind assistance with information on Camp Columbia.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 8 August 2000

This page last updated 07 January 2015