North American Service Club
American Red Cross (for African American soldiers)
380 Flinders Street, Townsville 4810
On 22 August 1942, an undercover investigation was made into African-American serviceman in Townsville. A 'colored' agent was assigned to the 92nd Quartermaster Company as there had been disturbances between African-American and white serviceman in Townsville.
It was discovered that considerable trouble had been caused by businesses in the city refusing service to African-Americans. The outcome of this investigation was the recommendation of a service club for African-American troops. This opened in late 1942 and reductions in 'disturbances' were noted by the Intelligence services.
On 12 September 1943, Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady of the United States visited Townsville for three hours after arriving with her official party in a B24 Liberator bomber at Garbutt aerodrome. After being welcomed by Townsville’s Mayor J.G.Gill, she toured the base and a station hospital.
At the North American Service (Red Cross) Club at 380 Flinders Street, Mrs Roosevelt spoke with African-American serviceman and nurses and was given a tour of the club and its facilities. It was reported that this was the first time she had met with 'colored' soldiers during her Australian tour.
The club continued until August 1944 when all African American troops were transferred from Townsville to forward bases.
In 2011, 380 Flinders Street is where 'Barkins' fashion store is located.
Ray Holyoak (contributing author).
Base Two, The Bayonet of Australia, Volume One, Notes from American War Records of World War Two, Volume 4. [Typescript held in North Queensland Collection, James Cook University].
Base Two Restricted Telephone Book, July 1943. Author’s collection.
The North Queensland Line: The Defence of Townsville in 1942". Ray Holyoak unpublished Honours Thesis, James Cook University, Townsville 1998.
Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton,) 13 September 1943.
The West Australian (Perth), 13 September 1943.