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Two licensed surveyors of the Queensland Institute of Surveyors, Sam Ward and Charles Martin pressed the Queensland Institute of Surveyors to approach the Defence Department to consider including surveyors in their professional capacity in any force in case of war.

When WW2 started Sam Ward, who was on the Reserve of Officers was summoned to Victoria Barracks in Brisbane in January 1940. Captain Sam Ward then in the Royal Australian Engineers was tasked with forming a group to be trained to create a Survey company.

Sam called up his mate Charles Martin who became a Lieutenant and in June 1940 was give the job of gathering men for training. Charles, who had been a surveyor with the Main Roads Department (MRD), knew many surveys and draughtsmen with MRD, the Brisbane City Council, The Survey Office and the Forestry Department.

Sam Ward and Charles Martin recruited a total of 44 men who received their initial basic training at the Kelvin Grove Drill Hall. They relocated to a camp in the Kilcoy Showgrounds in September 1940 to undertake 3 months Military and survey training. This group of men was a Militia Unit initially and was known as the Northern Command Survey Unit.

Survey Corps Warrant Officers Vic Alfred and Charlie Carter trained the men in aerial photo plotting, place tabling, computations, etc. Sergeant Major Fred Sides trained the men on the parade ground.

In 1942 the group moved to Townsville and became the 5th Field Survey Company. No. 1 Section and a Detachment of No. 2 Section carried out special projects in 1942 and 1943 in Cape York and Moratai. From Townsville the group moved to Gladstone, then Innisfail, Ingham and finally to Wongabel where they prepared for overseas action in Moratai and Balikpapan in Borneo. They returned to Australia in 1945.

There is an excellent display on 5 Field Survey Company (AIF) Australian Survey Corps in the Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying at the Landcentre, corner of Main and Vulture Streets, Woolloongabba, Brisbane.


Were you a member of 5 Field Survey Company?



I'd like to thank Bill Kitson, Senior Curator, Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying for his assistance with this web page.


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This page first produced 27 September 2006

This page last updated 23 January 2020