SKIRMISH BATTERY
WOORIM, BRIBIE ISLAND, QLD
DURING WW2

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Skirmish Battery was constructed by the Queensland Main Roads Commission. It was completed in late 1942 and became operational in early 1943.

Before Skirmish Battery was completed, "P" Heavy Battery had carried out training exercises in the Skirmish Point area of Bribie Island just south of Woorim.

Skirmish Battery was constructed to protect Pearl Channel between Bribie Island and Moreton Island. Skirmish Battery was equipped with two 155mm M1918A1 American guns mounted on "Panama" type mountings. Besides the gun emplacements, there were magazines, a command post, observation post, and a searchlight battery. The two 155mm guns and Plotting Room equipment arrived at Skirmish Battery on 14 September 1942. 

The concrete command post and observation posts were placed on 13 meter high wooden supports to improve observation.

The battery plotting room and the administration area were located about 150 metres to the west of the gun emplacements, to move them away from the nearby houses at Woorim. The command post was 80 metres north of No. 2 gun emplacement. The gun emplacements were about 80 metres apart. 

There were two flank observation posts at each extremity of the battery, about 4,000 yards from the command post.

At one point in time, Skirmish Battery was operated by "E" Heavy Battery under the command of Major Greet.

"D" Australian Heavy Battery were also based at Skirmish Battery at Woorim on Bribie Island some time in September 1942. Ross Thomson of "D" Battery remembers that they were there well before the hospital ship "Centaur" was sunk on 14 May 1943. "D" Battery then moved on to the battery at Signal Hill in Townsville Harbour.

All local residents of Woorim had been evacuated out of the small township by the time "D" Battery had arrived at Skirmish Battery. The Officers took over the local hotel (can anyone help me with the name of the hotel) and the Sergeants and other ranks used the Ocean Beach Guest House as their messes. Ross Thomson thought that the sergeant's quarters may have also been located in the Guest House.

Other ranks took over as many houses as was needed to house them. Five or six to each house. The former residents were required to place all of their possessions in one room and lock them up. Naturally, there has not been a lock invented that defied an Australian soldier. When Ross Thomson's group looked in "their" locked room there was the usual assortment of scrappy holiday furniture. However, amongst all of this there was a gramophone and records. They had great time in their off-duty hours, winding up the old gram and playing music. These days continued for some time until, one Sunday afternoon, the Orderly Officer and Orderly Sergeant suddenly appeared approaching through the trees. Someone alarmed the others and we all disappeared into the scrub. You can imagine their silent delight at peeking through the scrub at a vacant house, a gramophone playing merrily and an officer and sergeant standing there, absolutely puzzled and not knowing what to do ! !

Personnel requiring dental treatment were sent to the dentist at Caloundra.

The following photographs were supplied to me by Ross Thomson

rossthomson19.jpg (13800 bytes) The "main road" at Woorim running slightly inland from beach.
rossthomson18.jpg (11201 bytes) The Ocean Beach Guest House at Woorim, Bribie Island.
rossthomson22.jpg (12347 bytes) The Ocean Beach Guest House at Woorim, Bribie Island.
rossthomson25.jpg (30482 bytes) Ross Thomson sitting on the front steps of the house which Ross shared with four others.
rossthomson24.jpg (13166 bytes) The horse that Ross Thomson's group had captured roaming in the sand hills. It was said to have belonged to the local butcher or baker who could not catch it before he had to leave Woorim.
rossthomson20.jpg (19400 bytes) Ron Piercy and Ross Thomson with Keith Gogler sitting on their commandeered horse!!
rossthomson27.jpg (42567 bytes) The rear of Ross Thomson's quarters. Under the house, and almost out of sight is where 600 155mm shells were stored as a magazine.
rossthomson28.jpg (45514 bytes) A close-up of the above photograph

 

RAN Station 4, Indicator Loop and Harbour Defence Asdic Station at Woorim was located about 2 kms northwards along the beach from Skirmish Battery.  

Skirmish Battery was decommissioned when the war ended. The observation posts were blown up at that time. The gun emplacements were destroyed in the mid 1970's for safety reasons as they were starting to fall into the ocean due to the erosion of a number of sand dunes over the years. See the photographs below for the extent of that damage.

In recent years the only remains of Skirmish Battery was the ruins of the northern flank observation post. It has probably by now also surrendered itself to the sea. I believe the Skirmish battery was originally about 3 sand dunes in from the high tide mark.

bribie03.jpg (58274 bytes)
Photo:- Lee Deighton
bribie04.jpg (52907 bytes)
Photo:- Lee Deighton

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Lee Deighton for providing me with copies of the above photographs of Skirmish Battery.

I'd like to thank Ross Thomson of "D" Aust Heavy Battery for his assistance with this home page. Ross also sent me some coloured views of Townsville during the early 1940's.

 

BOOK REFERENCES

"Fortress Brisbane - A guide to historic fixed defence sites of Brisbane and the Moreton Bay Islands"
by D.W. Spethman and R.G. Miller

"The 'Letter' Batteries - The History of the 'Letter' Batteries"
by Reg Kidd and Ray Neal

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 30 September 2001

This page last updated 28 January 2017