USN Submarine Supply Centre

Windsor State School

Type
Supply facility
Region
Brisbane City

Windsor State School, 290 Lutwyche Road, Windsor 4030

The United States Navy began building storage warehouses at Windsor in November 1942. By early 1943, there were five USN warehouses at Windsor but located on two separate sites. In February 1943, the USN requisitioned Windsor State School for it to become the main Submarine Supply Centre servicing the USN submarine base at New Farm. The Centre administered all of the storage warehouses located across Brisbane until August 1944. The Centre followed the USN north on MacArthur’s drive on the Philippines. The site then became a USN receiving station until the Americans closed all the Windsor facilities during September and October 1945.

History

The Windsor State Primary School acquired a modern brick classroom building in 1915. The school was serviced by the Lutwyche Road tramline. Following the arrival at New Farm of the submarine tender USS Griiffin and 5 submarines in April 1942, the US Navy created a naval base in Brisbane. It was designated US Navy Base 134. While the main facilities were at New Farm, the USN built facilities in other Brisbane suburbs. At Windsor, Warehouses S1, S2 and S3 were built on open land bounded by Northey and Swan Streets and Swan Terrace (now Victory Park). The USN leased the park from the Brisbane City Council from 1 November 1942. This was followed on 7 December by an USN lease of Windsor Park in Blackmore Street. Warehouses W1 and W2 were constructed at Windsor Park. The three warehouses in Swan Street were designated USN Swan Hill while the other two warehouses were known as USN Windsor Park.

During 1943, as more submarines arrived, the Americans sought to expand the Base 134. New buildings were constructed for or by the USN, or existing Brisbane buildings were requisitioned for military use. The United States Navy built and used more covered storage space in Brisbane than in any other naval base established in the Southwest Pacific Area. Most of the warehouses were 100 feet by 200 feet frame structures covered with Fibrolite. In many cases two or more 100 feet by 200 feet units were joined into a single building to increase the storage capacity.

As Windsor, already had five USN warehouses, it was an ideal location for a navy supply facility. After negations between the Australian and the Queensland Governments, the USN leased the entire Windsor School site for a submarine supply centre. The lease agreement was organised through the Australian Army Hiring Service offices at Victoria Barracks. The USN moved into the school grounds on 10 February 1943.

Apart from the existing school building and other on-site facilities, the USN had to construct a number of new buildings, specifically barracks and a mess hall for sailors that were to be based at the Submarine Supply Centre, as well as Warehouse C1 to hold submarine supplies and stores. A Seabee Construction Battalion built Warehouse C-1 facing Lutwyche Road, Windsor. The Centre also had an administration office, a carpenters shop, barbers shop, Excelsior store, oil and drum storage and an open storage shed. No ordnance (e.g. mines or torpedoes) was stored at the Windsor School. Such items were kept at the USN Ordnance Depot at Mt Coot-tha.

As the Submarine Supply Centre was designated as a separate unit within the USN base operations in Brisbane, it had its own administrative offices at Windsor. In early 1945, the unit transferred to the USN Advance Base in the Philippines. The US Naval Supply Depot unit took over the Windsor State School. The site then became an USN storage and receiving station. During part of the USN lease (22 July 1944 - 4 June 1945) of the McWhirters Storage Building in Fortitude Valley, the Submarine Supply Centre used this building. The USN ended its lease of USN Windsor Park on 13 September 1945; of USN Swan Hill on 23 October 1945; and of the Windsor School site on the next day. All three properties were returned to Australian Army Hiring Service. The Windsor Park warehouses were next allotted to the Australian Army (AIF). The Swan Hill warehouses were allotted to the RAN. The Windsor School site was allotted to the Australian Military Forces (AMF or the militia) use.

Source/comments

BCC Heritage Unit citation.

United States Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks Section, Defense Aid - Reciprocal and Review Board Report US Naval Base, Navy 134, Brisbane, (1946).

Brisbane City Council Minutes