- Brisbane City
229-233 Queen Street, Brisbane 4000
The AMP building was constructed between 1931 and 1934 as the Queensland headquarters of the Australian Mutual Provident Society (AMP). During WWII the building was taken over by the US military and became Headquarters of the Allied Forces in the South-West Pacific. It was occupied for much of the Pacific war by US General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief of the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). The building is now known as MacArthur Chambers in recognition of that facet of the City’s history, and houses the MacArthur Museum Brisbane.General HQ South-West Pacific Area (SWPA)HQ Commander Allied ForcesHQ Allied Navy SWPAHQ Allied Air Forces SWPAHQ RAAF Command, Air DefenceHQ 14th AA CommandHQ 108 Fighter Control SectorHQ 5th US Air ForceHQ 5th Air Force Support CommandHQ USN Base Facilities & Det 4HQ 805th Signals Service Company ('Green Hornet' Sigsaly top secret telephone communications).
After the retreat from the Philippines, General Douglas Macarthur, Commander of the United States Forces in the Far East, arrived in Australia in March 1942 and set up his headquarters in Melbourne. After re-organisation of the various theatres of war, MacArthur was made Commander-in-Chief of the South West Pacific Area (CINCSWPA) from 18 April 1942. His role was to hold Australia as a base for offensives against Japan. On 20 July 1942 General MacArthur moved his Headquarters 800 miles closer to the combat zone, re-establishing it at Brisbane.
The nine-story AMP Building in Queen Street was chosen to house the headquarters of the Allied Forces in the South-West Pacific because it was 'the largest and most modern office building, and in the center of town'. General MacArthur occupied the AMP Board Room on the eighth floor and his headquarters staff occupied the remainder of the building. Tenants were removed from the building from 21 July 1942 and were unable to return until 14 June 1945, although the AMP retained some presence on the ground floor and basement.
As headquarters for SWPA a large portion of the building was taken up by various signals units. A communications centre was established in the basement, and the 832nd Signal Battalion’s Message Centre, and the US telephone exchange shared the 6th floor with the US Navy Headquarters. Additional signals facilities, including a Code Room, were also contained on the 7th floor. The Allied air force headquarters, including RAAF Command were housed on the 5th Floor. Daily briefings for Allied commanders, overseen by the USAAF Directorate of Intelligence, were held in what was described as a 'War Room' in the building. As the war progressed and fraternisation with American troops became more permanent, a war brides office was established on the 8th floor.
In November 1942 Macarthur moved an advanced base to Port Moresby where he occupied the former Government house when he visited. He did not give up his Brisbane headquarters and moved 'so rapidly between Brisbane and New Guinea that often two luncheon tables were set for him, fifteen hundred miles apart'. Macarthur retained the headquarters until November 1944 when he returned to the Philippines.
Queensland Heritage Register citation 600147
BCC Heritage Unit files
Marks R, 'Brisbane WW2 v Now' Volume 17, 2005
Manchester, W 'American Caesar', Hutchinson, Richmond, Victoria, 1978.