Camp Meeandah and US Army General Depot

Australian Army Damascus Barracks

Type
Supply facility
Region
Brisbane City

100 Sugarmill Road, Pinkenba 4008

The Meeandah Stores Depot was part of the largest major storage project undertaken by the Allied Works Council for the US Army in Brisbane. Although construction was planned for 47 huge warehouses on three sites totalling 420 acres at Meeandah, Banyo and Pinkenba, only 29 stores in total were built. The total storage space was 1,143,000 square feet on the floor. These Depots, which warehoused food, clothing and general US equipment and stores, were also built '…to serve as holding depots for all classes of material under Lend-Lease.'

History

Construction of the US Army’s General Stores Depot commenced in early June 1943, with the depot to be spread across three Brisbane suburbs. All three of the Depot’s components were located on unused land, the low-lying nature of which meant that drainage requirements occupied a large portion of the early work. Five miles of roadways were constructed on the Meeandah site exclusive of site access roads, and a railway siding was also laid to specially constructed platform at the site. The depot was completed in January 1944. Meeandah was the major depot having 19 warehouses, while Banyo had 9 and Pinkenba had one warehouse, all completed by October 1944.

While all the stores, most of which were 400 feet x 100 feet, were of lighter temporary construction, with cement flooring, prefabricated timber roof trusses made from Oregon pine, timber frames, weatherboard cladding and iron roof, they were still estimated to cost around £11,000 each. Eventually, 17 warehouses of this dimension were erected at Meeandah, with six others of smaller dimension. All warehouses had electric light and power connections. Other facilities included an earth dam holding 500,000 gallons, vehicle servicing structures including workshops, latrines, a picture theatre, guard huts and an administrative building. The General Stores Depot was operated by the US Army Services of Supply (USASOS) that had its headquarters at Camp Victoria Park at Spring Hill.

Some stores were stacked wooden crates in the open away from the warehouses. The constant loading and unloading of military stores meant that that was heavy vehicular traffic around the depot. Apart from stores delivered by ship, the depot also held used military equipment in its Salvage Yard. Recovering and repairing military hardware saved on shipping space for supplies. Once the US military hardware had been brought back to operational status (e.g. 155mm, 105mm, and 37mm guns restored at the US Ordnance Depot Coopers Plains) it was railed to Meeandah where it became the responsibility of the Salvage Office.

From July 1944, the US Army gradually vacated the Depot and moved its supply depot to Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea. As warehouses became available, they were allotted to a variety of military users, including the Australian army and the RAAF. No.5 RAAF Transportation and Movements Office (TMO) had a detachment placed at Meeandah. Two small warehouses No.23 and No.24 were allotted to the Dutch/NEI forces at the Meeandah Depot.

Meeandah Stores Depot now operates as the Australian Regular Army’s (ARA) Damascus Barracks and is the only former US Army barracks still occupied by the Australian forces in Brisbane.

Source/comments

BCC Heritage Unit citation

NAA; BP262/2, 9178, Joint Parliamentary War Expenditure Advisory Committee visit to Queensland and Northern Territory, barcode 1830009

United States Army Services of Supply, Headquarters Sub Base Three – Australian Base Command, (Brisbane: US Army, February 1946).