Royal Australian Air Force - Central Sick Quarters, 3 Medical Receiving Station and 20 Medical Clearing Station
"Currajong” (former Ferguson familys’ residence)
- Medical facility
Fulham Road, Pimlico 4810
'Currajong', the private residence of Mr and Mrs Ferguson was contributed to the war effort voluntarily to accommodate refugee children from England in 1939. However, at the commencement of the Pacific War the homestead was handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). In 1942, it was converted as Central Sick Quarters and then later, taken over by
No.3 Medical Receiving Station (3MRS).
Built in 1888 as a gentleman’s residence, “Currajong” was originally set in acres of well kept gardens facing Fulham Road in Pimlico. When war broke out in Europe in September 1939, the owners of the property (Mr and Mrs Ferguson) decided to contribute to the war effort. They offered their house and grounds to the Anglican Parish of St Matthew as a home for refugee children from England whose cities were besieged by German bombing.
Tragically, the ship carrying the children to Australia was torpedoed en-route.
At the commencement of the Pacific War in December 1941, the Ferguson’s handed 'Currajong' to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). In March 1942, it was converted for service as Central Sick Quarters for squadrons based at Garbutt Airfield.
The rooms at the rear of the house, originally a bedroom and sitting room, were altered to form an operating theatre. Various modifications at this time meant that two large wards extended on either side of the hallway and were used to accommodate dangerously ill patients. The verandah was also enclosed with fly screening and blinds to accommodate patients. The office for the medical officer was in a room screened by louvers at the corner of the front verandah. The gardens outside the house disappeared under rows of 'wards', which consisted of prefabricated tents with wooden flooring. Another building was erected closer to Fulham Road to house a venereal disease ward. Huts for nursing personnel, a mess hut, ablutions blocks and a morgue also surrounded the main building.
'Currajong' was the centre of a major and vital facility. On 9 July 1942 the hospital was taken over by No.3 Medical Receiving Station (3MRS) commanded by Wing Commander J.C.Fulton, with Dr S.F.M. Yeates as medical officer. Dr Yeates recalled that the first patients received were evacuees from the Battle at Milne Bay.
Despite the three air raids on Townsville in late July 1942, Townsville remained unscathed. By October 1942 the tide of the war in New Guinea was turning and 3MRS were posted to Port Moresby.
Central Sick Quarters No.20 (later renamed No.20 Medical Clearing Station) was formed at 'Currajong' in July 1943. In April 1944 3MRS returned to 'Currajong' and the two units were united. 'Currajong' continued in use as a hospital until October 1944 and later served as accommodation for the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).
In 1978 the Sisters of Mercy, who had been using the building as a convent in conjunction with the nearby Mater Hospital, donated 'Currajong' to the Townsville Branch of the National Trust of Queensland. It was then moved to its present site at the Heritage Centre, Castling Street West End.
Ray Holyoak (contributing author).
Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde.
Townsville Branch of the National Trust of Queensland.