US Army Section Base Two, Signal Section
- Radar/signal station
336 Flinders Street (cnr Stoke Street), Townsville 4810
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.
Located on the corner of Flinders and Stokes Street, 'Beak House', a two storied building, had been remodeled as two separate buildings in c1938. The left half became the Townsville branch of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney. It was given a new façade and modernised with Art Deco motifs. The remaining half on the right retained its original appearance.
The first requisition for hiring of property accepted direct from US Army Offices in Denham Street was in respect to locating the Signal Offices to Beak House in Flinders Street. This requisition was accepted on 23 April 1942 and possession was undertaken immediately. Within a fortnight the Base Chemical Officer was set up in the same building. Teletype services for the US Army were also located in the building during 1942–1945. A code and cryptographic also operated on the second floor of the building including a training school for Signals staff.
An emergency signals room was located in the base of the building as a backup.
At around 9.30 am the teletype machines in the building would begin printing out intelligence summaries and bombing target information for proposed raids on enemy positions for the following day. These were then collected by military dispatch riders and delivered to Officers at Garbutt field with bomber crews being briefed about their respective missions.
A Base Section Two Telephone Directory for May 1944 also lists Beak House as a Military Police (MP) Station.
Base Two, The Bayonet of Australia, Volume One, Notes from American War Records of World War Two, Vol 2 p.2. [Typescript held in North Queensland Collection, James Cook University].
The North Queensland Line: The Defence of Townsville in 1942". Ray Holyoak unpublished Honours Thesis, James Cook University, Townsville 1998.
HQS Base Section Two Telephone Directory, May 1944, Restricted. Ray Holyoak, private collection.
Interview with Mr Peter Armati May 2010. Information provided by former US Intelligence Officer during Coral Sea '92 Commemorations in Townsville 1992.