United States Army 42nd General Hospital

Stuartholme School

Medical facility
Greater Brisbane

Stuartholme Road, Toowong 4066

The US Army requisitioned 'Stuartholme' in late 1942. It was used by the 42nd General Hospital with new buildings for wards and barracks added to the site. The hospital specalised in malaria cases then prevalent amongst the US forces serving in the Papua and New Guinea Campaigns. In August 1943, all of the US Army nurses serving in Brisbane’s military hospitals were relocated for accommodation purposes to the convent. The site was returned to the nuns after the war ended.


'Stuartholme' opened as a convent and school run by the Catholic Church’s Sacred Heart Order of nuns in 1920. By 1940, enrolments had reached 36 students. On 15 July 1942, a survey of the site and facilities of 'Stuartholme' was conducted by Surveying and Property Officer J.B. Payne of the Commonwealth Government’s Department of the Interior’s Survey & Property Section’s Works & Services Branch (Qld). The survey revealed that a site contained a large, brick convent, a gazebo, 3 tennis courts, a sports ground, 3 cultivated fields and a small cemetery, that was to be requisitioned by the US Army Medical Corps.

The nuns/teachers and the girls boarding at 'Stuartholme' were transferred to a small country hotel at Canungra near the jungle slopes of Mount Tamborine. There 'Stuartholme' school was temporarily re-established with the study room being the former hotel public bar. After the US Army established Camp Cable near Mt Tamborine for its 32nd (National Guard) Division, the nuns and their students moved again. The school relocated to the Grand Hotel at Southport where it remained until the end of 1944.

The US Army established its 42nd General Hospital at 'Stuartholme’s' Toowong site. US Army engineers added new buildings to the site. The main brick convent building was given a timber extension to accommodate surgical wards. To facilitate the movement of stretcher cases, the US Army installed an elevator beside the new wards. The elevator tower was designed so that it did not overshadow the parapet of the original school/convent building. Two temporary buildings with Red Crosses painted on their roofs were constructed nearby. The one closest to the surgical wards and the tennis courts was the officers’ quarters.

When the US Liberty Ship Rufus King sank on 7 July 1942, some of her cargo was US medical stores that were taken to the tennis courts at 'Stuartholme' for drying. US nurses worked at the hospital and were provided with special onsite facilities such as a hospital beauty parlour. American nurses hosted dances at 'Stuartholme'. Such dances (e.g. one held on 28 December 1942) were Officers-Only affairs. The 42nd General Hospital ran an Ear, Eye, Nose & Throat Clinic at 'Stuartholme'. The school’s grounds, particularly its tennis courts and bushland settings and the wide verandahs were conducive to patient convalescence. Commanding Officer of the 42nd General Hospital’s convalescent section was Captain Muller. On 25 December 1942, the 42nd General Hospital had three US Army generals as convalescing patients. They were Brigadier Generals Albert H. Waldron, Hanford MacNider and Cloves E Byers of the 32nd Division. All had been wounded in the vicious fighting at Buna in Papua.

Circa 1 April 1943, the 6th Army HQ ordered that all of its various Portable Hospital units (like a M.A.S.H. unit) were to be detached and to operate independently. The US 3rd Portable Surgical Hospital (3 PSH) was then assigned to its parent organization the 42nd General Hospital. The portable hospital was trucked from Camp Cable to Brisbane and reached 'Stuartholme' on 2 April 1943. At 'Stuartholme', the 3 PSH was occupied with hospital ward duty for the officers and hospital training for the enlisted personnel. In mid-May almost the entire personnel of 3 PSH were hospitalised with malaria. Unsurprisingly, the 42nd General Hospital’s newspaper Stethoscope of 19 May 1943 noted that its Malaria Section had the most patients. The 3 PSH began transferring to Townsville on 3 June 1943.

It was found that the hospital facilities at 'Stuartholme' were inadequate to deal with the number of patients being sent there. Larger hospitals were established at the US 6th Army’s HQ at Camp Columbia, Wacol and along Nursery Road at Holland Park. By June 1943, most of the 42nd General Hospital’s staff had moved to Holland Park. As it had been a convent, all US Army nurses were transferred to accommodation at 'Stuartholme' in August 1943. Approximately 50 US Army nurses were housed at 'Stuartholme' with the gazebo being a popular spot.

On 12 September 1944, US submarines sank the Japanese prison ships Kachidoki Maru and Rakuyo Maru. Eighty-six Australian survivors were delivered to Brisbane on the US minelayer Monadnock on 18 October. The ex-POWs were bussed to 'Stuartholme' where they spent two weeks recuperating. Major R.E. Steele, who on 4 June 1943, had led the only successful escape from a Japanese POW camp, supervised the men. The survivors were placed under close military guard to prevent them talking to the media, though they underwent intense military interrogation while at the convent. They provided very important information on Japanese treatment of POWs.


BCC Heriatge Citations

Joan & Clay Blair, Return from the River Kwai, (London: Futura Books, 1979).


Roger R. Marks - Brisbane WW2 V Now Number.12 - “Nudgee Jnr & Stuartholme"