Contrary to popular belief and shown incorrectly on many web pages, HMAS Moreton was not located at New Farm during WWII.
The Queensland Marine Defence Force QMDF was established in 1883. They occupied an area at the end of Alice Street running along the Brisbane River behind the Houses of Parliament through to the Domain behind Government House. In 1911 the Royal Australian Navy took over control of the former QMDF Depot in that area.
The Queensland Marine Defence
Force QMDF established a
Naval Depot from the end of Alice Street to the Domain area
At the outbreak of WWII in Europe, the Alice Street Naval Depot, the former Queensland Marine Defence Force Depot (QMDF) at the Domain, was commissioned as HMAS Penguin IV on 3 September 1939. Other sites that were used by the Royal Australian Navy at that time were the former QMDF offices at 3 Edward Street, where the Queensland District Naval Officer and his staff operated from. There was also a Naval Stores facility and oil fuel installation at Kangaroo Point.
On 1 August 1940, HMAS Penguin IV at Alice Street, the Domain was re-commissioned as HMAS Brisbane. It was later re-commissioned as HMAS Moreton on 1 October 1942. HMAS Moreton was tucked in along the Brisbane River behind the Queensland State Parliament buildings and what is now the site of the Queensland University of Technology QUT (previously QIT). See the buildings along the river in the 1946 aerial photo below.
Photo:- BCC PDOnline
HMAS Moreton from the end of Alice Street to the Domain area in 1946
HMAS Moreton established its Headquarters in the old Government House building which is still preserved in the grounds of QUT. One of the original buildings near the river (at right angles to the river) at HMAS Moreton became the Brisbane City Morgue some time after the war. The kiosk building called "City Garden's Cafe" inside the adjacent Botanic Gardens was used as a Ward Room for Officers at HMAS Moreton during WWII.
The first intake of WRANS at HMAS Moreton was in November 1942. There was initially no accommodation for the WRANS at HMAS Moreton. The local girls lived at home and the country recruits lived at various places such as the YWCA Hostel at "Kinnaird House" at 120 Bowen Terrace, New Farm near the Story Bridge. "Kinnaird House" was also used as Barracks for the WAAAFs during WWII.
The "Wrannery" at HMAS Moreton was eventually completed in December 1943. There were 4 huts with 22 beds, ablution blocks, a laundry, a recreation hut and a mess deck.
The WRANS held many sing-songs in their recreation hut. They spent weekends at the Hostel for Servicewomen at Burleigh Heads at the South Coast (now the Gold Coast). They would also visit the parties and dances held by the Army and Air Force. They would go swimming at The Oasis at Sunnybank on the south side of Brisbane. They would often spend their Sunday nights at the Regent Theater where they would sing along and enjoy the organ playing by Reubert Hayes. Admission was restricted to Service personnel and their civilian partners.
WRANS at HMAS Moreton in 1944
The WRANS attached to HMAS Moreton worked at various locations including:-
ATIS - Allied Translator and Interpreter Service at Indooroopilly
IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) office
Radar base at Kangaroo Point
Degaussing Range at Lytton (US Navy also had a Degaussing Station on the Brisbane River)
Allied Intelligence Bureau
Caloundra Port War Signalling Station PWSS
HMAS Moreton temporarily closed at the Domain in 1946 and the name HMAS Moreton transferred to the building at 3 Edward Street. HMAS Moreton reopened again at the Domain in 1949.
In 1959 RAN training was transferred to the former Navy Victualling Store at New Farm at the corner of Merthyr Road and Gray Street. The New Farm site was then commissioned as HMAS Moreton in 1960.
George Griffith "Griff" Bingham and a
friend outside HMAS Moreton in Brisbane
"Griff" Bingham was at HMAS Moreton in Brisbane when he signed up in the Royal Australian Navy during WWII. He then served on the corvette HMAS Ipswich.
HMAS Moreton History
Official Royal Australia Navy web page
City Garden's Cafe
I'd like to thank Jim Chapman, Russell Miller, Di Bingham and Janelle Bingham for their assistance with this home page.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 10 December 2002
This page last updated 18 July 2017