COLUMBOOLA AMMUNITION DUMP

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visits since 20 May 2001

 

The Queensland Main Roads Commission built an Ammunition Dump at Columboola during WW2. They constructed 2 miles of gravel road 18 feet wide and 5.75 miles of gravel road 12 feet wide along with the internal roads within the Ammunition Dump area. Fifty five men were employed on this project at a total cost of £13,441.

Lt. Folkert, Lt. Williams and 5 Enlisted Men of the 577th Ordnance Ammunition Company were placed on Detached Service at Columboola Depot on 2 February 1944.

A watch tower, constructed completely of wood was erected at the ammunition dump for security purposes. In the early to mid 1980's the white ants had made a great feast out of one of the legs. The owners of the property had removed the ladder to stop sticky beaks climbing the tower .

During World War 2, the Watch Tower was manned 24 hours a day on the look out for fire, theft, sabotage, etc, Those in the Watch Tower could see right over the ‘dump’. 


State Library of Queensland - Image number: 53507

U.S. Army staff car outside officers' quarters, Columboola, 1944

 


State Library of Queensland - Image number: 53513

Jeep parked at Columboola Depot, Queensland, 1944

 

cad01.jpg (25571 bytes) Photo of the Watch Tower taken in 1984. The 1963 EK Holden near the base of the tower gives you an idea of the height of the tower
cad03.jpg (26953 bytes) A close-up of the old watch tower which was very unstable at that time.
cad02.jpg (113768 bytes) A 1940's aerial view of Columboola Ammunition Dump
cad04.jpg (86556 bytes) Metal ‘ends’ which he was later told came from the ends of tubes containing bombs, shells, mortars, etc. 

 

Terry Walker's Great Aunt, who lived on a property just out from Miles during WW2, remembered seeing black U.S. troops under the control of white officers going through the town. She knew there was a camp of some sort near a little place called Columboola, but could not remember (or did not know) what the camp was used for.

Terry Walker met an ‘old’ gentleman who had lived most of his life in and around Miles, Condamine and Chinchilla. He told Terry  that after the War, he and his young friends would wander through the ‘dump’ area and climb the tower and in general, play ‘silly buggers’.

When asked him if he had found anything of interest, his answer was typical ‘bushy’ of "not much". He would not elaborate on this answer.


State Library of Queensland - Image number: 53519

American soldier posing with a kangaroo he had just shot at Columboola

In March 1984, Terry Walker and his two sons went out to visit the "dump". They called on the owners of the property and asked permission to have a look around. They were informed that the watch tower was unsafe and that they should not attempt to climb it, and also to be careful of unexploded ‘things’. The owners said they had been on the property for a number of years and had never came across any problems.

Terry  investigated the line of ‘clearings’ which turned out to be areas where the men must have unpacked large crates of munitions and packed them into smaller crates for shipping out to the front line troops. The remains of bush pallets lay all over the area with what was left of rusted metal packing straps which had been cut and still lay where they had fallen onto the ground some forty years before.

Terry also found dumped all over the area thousands upon thousands of metal ‘ends’ which he was later told came from the ends of tubes containing bombs, shells, mortars, etc. 

The watch tower was situated at the northern end of the dump. Terry thinks that it is in the small circle shown in the aerial photograph in the centre at the top of the square fenced area. 

Terry  found nothing of value even though we were there for two days (no crates of Harleys, Jeeps, Guns, coins, badges, etc) Not even a "thing" which may have gone bang. 

When Terry went out in 1984, Columboola consisted of a small store on the left hand (southern) side of the highway. Across the road was a small school, which had one teacher who knew where the troops had been camped during the war.

The teacher took Terry and his sons through the scrub a short distance from the school and pointed out concrete slabs and other signs of where a camp had been set up. The area definitely had the markings of an old U.S. Military campsite. The Camp was situated some distance from the ‘dump’.

 

Can anyone tell me some more about this ammunition dump?

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I'd like to thank Terry Walker for his assistance with this home page.

 

BOOK REFERENCES

"The History of the Queensland Main Roads Commission during World War II, 1939 - 1945"

"Wacol & Darra - The War Years"
by the Military Museums of the Pacific

 

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©  Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 20 May 2001

This page last updated 22 April 2008