US Army Base Section Two (Intelligence Section) and ABC headquarters during WW2
Australian Mutual Provident Society Building (former)
416-418 Flinders Street (cnr Stanley Street), Townsville 4810
The Australian Australian Mutual Provident Society building, completed in 1938, was requisitioned for use under Commonwealth security regulations in early 1942.
In December 1941, the need to requisition commercial buildings and private homes for military purposes was viewed as essential due to the rapid advance of the Japanese and the lack of materials and labour available to the Allies. Modern buildings located in the city centre were close to telecommunication facilities and essential services and many US and Australian military units were based there.
A section of US Forces Intelligence occupied two rooms of this building from February 1942. A few of the principal functions of this office included:
- The collection and evaluation of information relating to the social, economic and psychological conditions of military and civilian personnel.
- Detection and prevention of sabotage, espionage and subversive activities.
- The investigation of Communist Party activities. An agent was assigned to be present at their speeches and meetings which were held on the Strand every Sunday night. The agent took notes on the views expressed, counted how many American serviceman were in the audience and evaluated the effect the speeches had on them.
The RAAF recruiting unit occupied the basement of the AMP building from 28 January 1942. The second floor was hired by the RAAF Dental clinic between October 1943 and September 1945. In 1943 the Australian Broadcasting Commission also had its Townsville headquarters there.
The building is marked as “No.9” on an early 1942 military dispatch riders street map of Townsville.
Hiring of room 3 AMP building, hiring of rooms 5 and 6, ACT A705/1, item 171/19/123.
Base Two Records, Intelligence Section. James Cook University Library North Queensland Collection.
Holyoak, Ray. The North Queensland Line: the Defence of Townsville in 1942. James Cook University Thesis, 1998.
1942 military dispatch riders’ street map of Townsville. (Holyoak collection)