227TH ANTI-AIRCRAFT SEARCHLIGHT BATTALION
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

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The 227th Anti-aircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion was activated at Fort Bliss, Texas, USA on 20 March 1943. They boarded the USS Mt. Vernon on 5 November 1943 for an unknown destination. The Battalion arrived in Sydney Harbour, New South Wales in Australia on 21 November 1943. The men of the 227th delighted in throwing cigarettes on the dock in Sydney and watched the Australian soldiers scramble to get them.

They moved to Camp Warwick (Warwick Farm) in Sydney to await further orders. There they were issued with extra blankets as the nights were still quite cool for that time of the year.

The Battalion left Camp Warwick by train on 8 December 1943 headed for Townsville in north Queensland. The 227th AAA S/L Bn arrived in Townsville on 11 December 1943 and were quartered at Armstrong's Paddock in Townsville.

 


Photo:- via Don Mitchell, 22nd Bomb Group, then 38th Bomb Group

Armstrong's Paddock with Mt Stuart in the background

 

227th AAA S/L Bn moved to Camp Bluewater about 21 miles north west of Townsville on 8 January 1944 to stage for combat in New Guinea. Here they started a training program for jungle warfare. Troops were trained by Australian Army instructors to live off the land. The training was tough and the men who returned from the training claimed that their C-rations tasted great compared to the bush tucker. On the evening of 30 March 1944, Lt. Col. John W. Squire, the Commanding Officer, stood on the stage at Camp Bluewater and announced to a hushed audience that the Battalion was on alert to move into combat.

Batteries "B" and "C" embarked for Finschhaven, New Guinea on 28 March 1944. Headquarters and "A" Battery boarded a Liberty Ship for Goodenough Island on 1 April 1944.

One of the troops wrote a very unflattering report on his experiences in Townsville in a "Letter to Joe" in a history of the Battalion titled "On Target - An Informal Account of the Moonlight-Cavalry - 227th AAA S/L Bn, I & E Section S-2" as follows:-

"The train roared through the night, blowing its whistle and rattling the rails at a good ten miles per hour, finally arriving at Townsville on Dec. 11. Townsville is the only town I've ever seen that could be smelled before it could be seen. There was a terrible aroma emaninating (sic) from the stores, especially the ones that sold leather goods. And in the restaurants of Townsville, you literally got flies in your soup, sanitation seems to have been unheard of in that place."

".... On Jan. 8 1944 the Battalion moved to Camp Bluewater and setup a staging area. The camp derived its name from the fact that a stream of water ran beside the camp. It was a pretty body of water, the only trouble being that we couldn't swim in it for the parasites seemed to be holding family reunions there."

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"On Target - An Informal Account of the Moonlight-Cavalry - 227th AAA S/L Bn, I & E Section S-2"

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank David Norris (Townsville) for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 6 April 2016

This page last updated 06 April 2016