Mount Louisa Anti-Aircraft Gun Emplacements


Mount Louisa, Townsville 4810

In early 1942, two heavy 50 calibre machine gun emplacements were constructed on the summit of Mount Louisa to the north of Townsville. These were to protect an entry 'lane' for allied aircraft preparing to land at Garbutt aerodrome. Each emplacement consisted of approximately fifteen sand filled 44 gallon drums placed in a semi circle with an overhead camouflage cover. Commencing in May 1942, Australians of 26 Battery 11 Brigade manned this position.


On 26 June 1942 Lieutenant R J Watts (15th Platoon, 26 Battery, 11th Brigade) was Commanding Officer at this site when a Wirraway aircraft approached from the direction of Castle Hill. A Court of Enquiry recorded Lt Watts’s eyewitness account of the following event:

The aircraft at the time was climbing and at about 450 feet. The aircraft continued on a Westerly course for a short distance, then turned right, banking very steeply, ending up in the opposite direction. During this turn he lost quite a considerable amount of height and at about 50 feet he appeared to attempt to flatten out but continued to splurge into the trees. I heard several loud reports and shortly afterwards, dense smoke and flames.

Killed instantly were Pilot Officer Thomas Frederick Gledhill and Sergeant Clifford Roy Gould from No.24 Squadron. The Court of Inquiry found that whilst conducting formation flying and aerobatics, misuse of the controls had resulted in a steep turn. Due to a stalled condition and loss of control, Wirraway A20-84 subsequently crashed into Mt Louisa.

No.24 Squadron had moved to Townsville in June 1940 to undertake maritime reconnaissance and training duties. Equipped with Australian built Wirraway aircraft, this single engined monoplane fighter was based on an American training aircraft and carried a pilot plus an observer/rear gunner.


North Eastern Area Headquarters - Court of Inquiry - Crash of Wirraway A20-84 at Mount Louisa on 26/6/1942 [1cm]. A11083, 906/79/P1 ACT.

{Routine Orders - Infantry (Including Bde HQ, Ind, Coys, Machine Gun, Pioneer and Paratroops:] AMF Routine Orders - Part 1, 11th Australian Infantry Brigade, 28 November 1941 to 11 May 1946, AWM54, 707/7/12

Australian War Memorial Wirraway aircraft image description, AWM 000713.

The North Queensland Line: The Defence of Townsville in 1942". Ray Holyoak unpublished Honours Thesis, James Cook University, Townsville 1998.