CAMP McCLUNG REMOUNT DEPOT
AT ROCKY SPRINGS JUST SOUTH OF STUART,
NEAR TOWNSVILLE, QLD
DURING WWII

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The Camp McClung Remount Depot at Rocky Springs became operational in November 1942 and obtained and trained up to 5,000 'clumper' horses and about 200 donkeys for pack work in New Guinea. The Remount Depot Depot was located just south of Stuart near Townsville in north Queensland. Troop A of the 251st Quartermaster Remount Squadron was activated in November 1942 and operated the Remount Depot. The location was also known as McClung Staging Area (Remount). Another name for the site was "Rodeo".

The 62nd Quartermaster Pack Co and the 63rd Quartermaster Pack Company were also activated in November 1942. The Quartermaster was responsible for the supply of forage for the animals at Rocky Springs and the establishment of a Reserve Depot at Ross River to maintain a 30 day reserve for 4,000 animals.

Australian civilians including aboriginals trained the animals to be used by the American Army. One of the features of entertainment at the camp was a regular Rodeo. There were horse tracks all over the hills in the area where the pack animals were led by one man in groups of seven animals in an Indian file. Their horses shoes had long spikes on them to provide grip on steep hills.

The Remount Depot was mostly built by 32 veterinary personnel under the supervision of Engineers. They built buildings, animal yards, a dip and several dams. All the fence posts and other timber was sourced from a location 70 miles from Rocky Springs.

From November 1943 through to April 1944, there was an average of 3,200 horses and a few burros or donkeys located at Camp McClung. The Remount Depot received approximately 3,600 recently purchased animals during June 1943. In late 1943, approximately 1,200 animals previously issued to mounted units, were returned to the Remount Depot. A Veterinary Dispensary was established, which operated as a type of a veterinary hospital. It cared for any depot animals and any more seriously disabled animals from the few mounted units stationed in the vicinity of the Remount Depot. This was in addition to the Veterinary Detachment in the Depot Unit which was later augmented by the temporary assignment of five separate veterinary detachments which were obtained from the Zone of Interior for assignment to Mounted Units. These were Veterinary Sections E, F, G, H, and I.

Beginning in February 1943, Depot issues (and reissues) of approximately 1,600 horses were made to the 61st Quartermaster Pack Troop, 62nd Quartermaster Pack Troop, 63rd Quartermaster Pack Troop, and 68th Quartermaster Pack Troop and the 167th Field Artillery Battalion. The units were provided with separate veterinary detachments, but many of these returned their sick animals to the Remount Depot's Veterinary Dispensary for care and treatment.

From August 1943  through to November 1943, the four Quartermaster Pack Troops and the Field Artillery Battalion in Australia were dismounted or inactivated, and their horses were returned to Camp McClung Remount Depot. This was as a result of a realisation that pack-mounted units were not required or effective in fighting the Japanese on New Guinea and various islands in the Southwest Pacific Area SWPA.

When the War Department advised that the 3,200 animals in the Remount Depot were not needed elsewhere, they were transferred to the Australian Army. The Remount Depot veterinary dispensary was closed on 28 April 1944, and Troop A of the 251st Quartermaster Remount Squadron was disbanded in August 1944.

The Veterinary Dispensary had 1,883 cases of disease and injury reported during its time of operation at the Remount Depot. This included veterinary services for animals belonging to the 62nd Quartermaster Pack Troop (from January to September 1944) and the 63rd Quartermaster Pack Troop (from January to July 1944).

In April 1944 the China-Burma-India CBI theatre had an urgent requirement for animals. At that time the transfer of horses to the Australian Army was almost complete. Their movement was processed by the Australian Army and they embarked on U.S. Animal Transports and when loaded, the horses returned to the technical jurisdiction of the US Army Veterinary Service or its Veterinary Corps officers who were assigned to the Animal Transports. A total of 2,236 horses were shipped in 6 shipments. The Casual Detachment "B" accompanied the first shipment. 1,560 horses were shipped to CBI in November 1944. A small detachment of animal handlers was place don each vessel. Two more vessels with horses and animal handlers sailed from Townsville in December 1944. The last animal transport vessel left Townsville on 7 February 1945.

The 104th Anti-aircraft Artillery AW Battalion moved from Armstrong Paddock in Townsville to Camp McClung on 17 April 1943. The unit was redesignated as the 104th Coast Artillery Battalion (AA) (AW) on 1 May 1943. On 14 May 1943 Batteries A and B boarded ATS Key Pittman bound for Goodenough Island. An advanced Detachment for Battery C left Camp McClung on 31 May on their way to Oro Bay, New Guinea. The remainder of Battery C left Camp McClung on 10 June 1943 and boarded ATS Key Pittman also headed for Oro Bay.

The 102nd Coast Artillery AA moved to Camp McClung from Darwin via Mount Isa in November 1942 and setup gun sites at Garbutt Airfield and No. 2 Air Depot near Mount Louisa. The 102nd left Camp McClung between June and September 1943.

The 440th Signal Battalion also moved to Camp McClung at Rocky Springs and it was this unit that gave the name Camp McClung to the location. Private First Class George F. McClung (19078982) was struck and fatally injured on 1 August 1942 by a Brisbane city bus when he stepped off the footpath and looked in the wrong direction for oncoming traffic. He was buried in the US Military Ipswich Cemetery on 4 August 1942. He had been a member of "A" Company of the 440th Signal Battalion. The 440th later moved from Camp Ascot in Brisbane, to the Staging Area (Remount) at Rocky Springs. In commemoration of the tragic accident in Brisbane, the Battalion Commander dedicated the camp site as "Camp George F McClung".

 

Site of the Remount Depot near the Townsville Crematorium

 

The entrance to the Townsville Crematorium is located to the left

 

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Pack horses on the Kokoda Track near Ower's Corner

 

Can anyone tell me some more about the Remount Depot?

 

REFERENCES:-

The following is the only Reference in the National Archives Australia database:-

Title
Camp McClung - Q'ld - disposal of
Series number
MP742/1
Control symbol
259/102/274
Contents date range
1944 - 1949
 
Access status
Not yet examined
Location
Melbourne
Barcode no
6020484

Has anyone got a copy of this file?

 

US Army Medical Department - Office of Medical History - Chapter XIII

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Samuel Cox for his assistance with this web page.

 

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 17 September 2000

This page last updated 15 May 2015