3RD MEDICAL LABORATORY
BASE SECTION 2 AND
BASE SECTION 3
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

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The 3rd Medical Laboratory was activated on 10 February 1941 at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. The Unit left Fort Sam Houston on 24 November 1941 and embarked at San Francisco on 6 December 1941. Subsequent to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor their ship returned to San Francisco and disembarked on 11 December 1941.

They were temporarily stationed at Fort McDowell, Angel Island, California and then attached to the Station Hospital at Fort Ord, Monterey, California. They assisted the Station Hospital and continued with their training. Major Francis E. Council, MC, (0-16969) became the new Commanding officer of the 3rd Medical Laboratory on 13 March 1942.

The 3rd Medical Laboratory again boarded their ship at San Francisco, on 26 May 1942, this time headed for Brisbane, Australia. They disembarked at Brisbane, Queensland on 18 June 1942 and the Officers and Enlisted Men were quartered in Tent Area "D" at Camp Ascot at Ascot Race Track and awaited their assignment to duty and provision of buildings. All of their crated laboratory equipment and supplies were stored in the "Social Service Institute" building. The Social Service Institute had their Institute Hall in Berwick Street, New Farm in November 1940. Perhaps this was where the laboratory equipment was stored.

The 3rd Medical Laboratory moved to their new location in the Queensland University's School of Veterinary Science main building off Fairfield, Road at Yeerongpilly, on the south side of Brisbane. This was located on the Animal Research Institute Farm at that location. It was a single story modern single story brick building. Tents were erected in addition to the two barrack buildings to accommodate additional troops which were attached for quarters and rations, especially Detachment of "F" Company, of the 135th Medical regiment which was attached on 17 January 1943. This Detachment comprised 1 Officer and 31 Enlisted Men. Officers on site were living in an old house on the grounds and the Enlisted Men were living in temporary wooden barracks nearby. Their mess hall was located in another wooden building. Adequate shower facilities and hot and cold water were available.

 


Photo:- Fryer Library University of QLD Photo Collection

Queensland University's School of Veterinary Science main building. Note the flagpole
and the roundabout flowerbed probably installed by the 3rd Medical Laboratory

 


Photo:- BCC 1946 Aerial Photo

The School of Veterinary Science main building is located to the left of the roundabout flowerbed

 

Whilst located at Yeerongpilly in Brisbane the unit provided theatre wide laboratory service and detached mobile units in the SWPA theater of war. This included support to both the Army and Navy units based in Base Section 3. A Malaria School was also operated at Yeerongpilly. The 3rd Medical Laboratory did not treat any patients.

The Laboratory was involved in tasks such as analysing water samples from various camps, testing food used at camps such as meat, dairy supplies, etc, and investigation of epidemics. They would carry out for for other US Army Medical Units special serological, bacteriological, pathological and chemicals analysis. They also carried out Post Mortem examinations and collected and preserved pathological specimens for historical and training purposes.

On the 8th July 1942, the 3rd Medical Laboratory comprised 11 Officers and 48 Enlisted Men.

The US Army Quartermaster section had a US Morgue co-located at Yeerongpilly and it is assumed that the 3rd Medical Laboratory assisted with Post Mortems from time to time.

On 30 January 1943, Headquarters 3rd Medical Laboratory was renamed to Stationary Section, 3rd Medical Laboratory and was still located in the School of Veterinary Science main building. Lieutenant Colonel F. E. Council was replaced as Commanding Officer of the 3rd Medical Laboratory by Major G.T. Crout on 30 January 1943. On 21 March 1943, Major J. H. Parker (ex CO of the Advance Section in Townsville) took over as Commanding Officer of the 3rd Medical Laboratory.

In February 1943 a stool survey of 950 members of the 32nd Infantry Division was carried out. 6.95% of these samples were found to contain hookworms. This study continued and by 1 July 1943, some 4,348 stool had been taken and examined and completed by 1 August 1943.

From 1 March 1943, malaria smears were taken from members of the 32nd Infantry Division who had suffered recurring attacks. 51% of the 1,000 smears tested positive for malaria. A general malaria survey of the 126th Infantry Regiment, 32 Infantry Division was also carried out from 1 March 1943. This was undertaken after they had returned from operations in New Guinea and had been fully treated. 2.5% of the 1,534 men examined tested positive. A number of Officers were sent on temporary assignments to study malaria, whilst awaiting permanent assignment to other units.

Between July and September 1943, a number of clinical laboratory procedures that could only be carried out by this laboratory were performed as follows:-

From 1 July 1943 Major James H. Park became Commanding Officer of both the Stationary Section and the 3rd Medical Laboratory. On 12 August 1943, Major Park reverted back to being CO of the Stationary Section only after Colonel Francis E. Council was reassigned to the 3rd Medical Laboratory as Commanding Officer. at the same time, three Officers were assigned elsewhere while two others were place don TD with the 42nd General Hospital.

Stationary Section ceased operations at Yeerongpilly on 26 August 1943 when the 8th Medical Laboratory arrived and moved into the buildings. The Stationary Section left for Port Moresby on 11 September 1943.

The 5th Medical Laboratory arrived in Australia on 13 July 1943 and relieved the 3rd Medical Laboratory in some areas in Australia and New Guinea. The 5th Medical Laboratory was eventually consolidated at Finschhafen, New Guinea on 13 April 1945.

The 8th Medical Laboratory arrived in Australia on 15 August 1943 and deployed mobile sections to Brisbane and Townsville and Port Moresby and Milne Bay before consolidating itself at Biak Island in October 1944.

 

ADVANCE SECTION IN TOWNSVILLE

Captain James H. Park, MC was appointed Commanding Officer of the 3rd Medical Laboratory Advance Section on 28 July 1942 and left Brisbane for Townsville to make arrangements for camp and laboratory buildings for an Advance Section to open a Laboratory for Base Section 2 in Townsville. 2 Officers and 20 Enlisted Men left Brisbane with laboratory equipment and supplies moved to Townsville by train. They were joined by the Commanding Officer and another officer upon their arrival in Townsville. From 13 August through to the 31 August 1942, they uncrated the equipment and supplies and set up their Laboratory in the vicinity of the 12th Station Hospital in Chapman Street, Mysterton Estate, which provided their quarters and rations.

From 1 to 15 September 1942 they completed installing their laboratory and obtaining supplies at the 12th Station Hospital.

Captain Park left for a tour of inspection of Field Hospitals at Hughenden on 18 September 1942. Colonel Mitchell, MC, the Surgeon for Base Section 2 appointed Captain Charles A. Armbrust, Jr., MC (0-400983) as acting Commanding Officer during Captain Park's absence.

On 30 September 1942, Captain William S. Monlux, VC (0-366190) and 2 Enlisted Technicians travelled to Iron Range airfield area to make a survey of a possible typhus epidemic. They found three men had high fever. They took blood samples from various men in the Iron Range area which all tested negative.

Seven students were attached to the Advance Section in Townsville for two weeks of Laboratory training after which they returned to their usual units.

On 9 October 1942, one Enlisted Man from the Advance Section was placed on duties with the US Army Dispensary in Townsville to set up a small Laboratory to carry out routine blood counts, blood typing and urinalysis.

On 19 October 1942, Captain Armbrust was transferred to the Advance Base in Port Moresby in New Guinea and was subsequently joined by another Officer from Base Section 3 in Brisbane plus three Enlisted Men to establish a Medical Field Laboratory.

From 1 - 31 October 1942 Advance Section in Townsville performed laboratory works of all kinds and approximately 4,00 specimens were received and reports made from 15 September to 31 October 1942.

The Advance Section operated in Townsville until September 1943 when it moved to Lae, New Guinea..

 

REFERENCES

WW2 US Medical Research Centre

 

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This page first produced 5 March 2015

This page last updated 05 March 2015