US 832nd Signal Photographic Detachment
- Brisbane City
55 Boyd Street, Bowen Hills 4006
The original 'Cintra', a two-storeyed Georgian influenced stone house (now called Cintra House, 23 Boyd Street), was built in 1863–64, and was extended to the south by later residents. The southern extension later became a separate residence at 55 Boyd Street, the Cintra Nursing Home, while the 1860s residence became Our Lady of Victories Convent in 1927. During WWII the US Army occupied the adjacent 'Luna Park', and 'Newstead House' as well as the residence at 55 Boyd Street (today’s 'Cintra').
'Cintra' became Headquarters of Photo Unit 1, a 12-man detachment of the US Army’s 832nd Signal Service Battalion, which moved to Brisbane from Sydney in late 1942. The 832nd was part of the US Army Signal Corps that had been made responsible early in the war for the production of films as part of the Army Pictorial Service. These films were most often used for training purposes, however a considerable amount of footage found its way into publicly displayed newsreels on the war effort. The Unit were also involved in providing the images utilised in General Douglas MacArthur’s public relations campaign.
A photographic laboratory and offices were established in 'Cintra', the front veranda being enclosed to give more space for the unit. The members of Photo Unit 1 were billeted at nearby Newstead House. They undertook a range of work while based at 'Cintra', and with its own Brisbane-based film-crew and a Mitchell camera, complete with a roof-mounted shooting platform on an Army xxx sedan, the unit also took motion pictures for the Army Pictorial Service. The detachment also specialised in still photography, and had the capability for photographic duplication, and by July 1943 was operating a 'radio photo set' that was capable of transmitting images by radio.
Photo Unit 1 requisitioned Brisbane’s oldest house (built 1842) 'Newstead House' on 15 August 1942. The grand home at 199 Breakfast Creek Road is surrounded by Newstead Park and overlooks the Brisbane River. The Battalion used 'Newstead House' as a billet, with its soldiers sleeping on US Army cots throughout the house. Among those billeted there was the unit mascot 'Blackie' the Labrador dog. Having been a museum and tourist attraction, the Americans were not permitted to alter or damage 'Newstead House'. The troops slept but not cooked there, instead eating at the mess at 'Cintra'. An army truck collected them daily for 'chow' call. But the troops sometimes 'borrowed' the museum’s antique furniture to relax on the verandahs. The Park was used for recreation including volleyball games. The Breakfast Creek Road tramline took troops on leave to the City.
Additional detachments of the 832nd rotated through the site until January 1945.
BCC Heritage Unit files
Marks, R “Brisbane - WW2 v Now", Volume 2, 2005