Torrens Creek Ordnance Ammunition Depot
US 636th Ordnance Ammunition Company and US 577th Ordnance Ammunition Company camp
- Ammunition facility
Aramac-Torrens Creek Road, Torrens Creek 4816
The Torrens Creek Ordnance Ammunition Depot was established to support the war in New Guinea and domestic requirements for northern Australia, in the case of invasion further north. The Kangaroo Ordnance Depot, became the main depot north of Townsville, as Torrens Creek never became fully operational. The airfield was used few air missions and supported some trans-shipments of aircrafts.
By late May 1942, Torrens Creek Aerodrome was complete except for sealing and camouflage works. The 46th Engineers pulled out in June to take up airfield construction at Iron Range and the Main Roads Commission completed a number of works still outstanding.
Elements of the USAAF 43rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) with B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and full combat crews were posted to Torrens Creek in the latter half of August 1942. They included the 63rd and 65th Squadrons and ground crews, but within weeks most of the 63rd Squadron had been posted to Townsville and Mareeba to train with the 19th Bombardment Group.
During September 1942 the US Command in Australia requisitioned for construction of additional buildings at Torrens Creek. However, with the departure of the 43rd Bombardment Group, operation of the airfield was scaled back considerably. During early 1943 the large ordnance dump 16 kilometres south of the airfield was transferred to the US Kangaroo Ordnance Depot, at Kurukan north of Townsville. By mid 1944, Torrens Creek airfield was unoccupied, the steel mat had been removed and all buildings and facilities had been dismantled for reuse by US Forces.
In July 1943, the US 577th Ordnance Ammunition Company was sent to Torrens Creek to replace a detachment of the 636th Ordnance Ammunition Company. The Detachment was responsible for the further development of the depot. The bombs were stockpiled and firebreaks were built to prevent regular bushfires from igniting ordnance. The major works were in reaction to an accident which occurred in October 1942, a bush fire managed to enter the Ammo Depot area and the result was 12 major explosions. Some of the craters were up to 8 metres deep.
Members of the military unit and the local Civil Construction Corps were recognised for their bravery.
Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
Allied Works Council (Queensland), AWC Minutes 1942–1945, BP1/1, National Archives of Australia, Canberra.
Main Roads Commission, The History of the Queensland Main Roads Commission during World War II 1939–1945, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1949.
Roger Marks, Queensland Airfields WW2: 50 years on, Brisbane, 1994.
Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993.
Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.