United States Army 3rd & 8th Medical Laboratories and Quartermaster Morgue
Animal Research Institute, University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science
- Scientific facility
- Brisbane City
Fairfield Road, Yeerongpilly 4105
The Animal Research Institute began as a state government Stock Experiment Station in 1909. Just prior to World War II, it was utilised by the School of Veterinary Science of the University of Queensland that was then based at Garden’s Point in the City. After the university had added modern laboratories to the site, the US Army’s 3rd Medical Laboratory (3rd Med. Lab.) requisitioned it in June 1942. This unit researched the treatment of tropical diseases, especially malaria. When 3rd Med. Lab. left the Yeerongpilly laboratories in August 1943, the 8th Medical Laboratory (8th Med. Lab.) replaced it. The 8th Med. Lab. ran an officers’ Malaria Control School and conducted laboratory tests including veterinary work. The unit left Yeerongpilly in October 1944.
In 1909, the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Stock (later Primary Industries) opened a Stock Experiment Station at Yeerongpilly. Its building held offices and laboratories. It was renamed the Animal Health Facility in 1932. The University of Queensland’s Faculty of Veterinary Science moved to the Fairfield Road site in 1936. During 1938-40, the University added a second building containing three laboratories, a library, classrooms and an equine operating room.
Later, the US Army requisitioned the site. The 3rd Medical Laboratory unit (with assigned veterinary laboratory officers and technicians) disembarked at Brisbane on 18 June 1942. Led by Major Francis E. Council, it was the first Laboratory unit to be deployed to the South-West Pacific Area. Initially it was quartered at Camp Ascot Park with its crated equipment stored at Brisbane’s 'Social Service Institute'. Soon it was allotted the Yeerongpilly laboratories. The unit operated as a Laboratory and Malaria School for the US Army’s Base Section 3 (Brisbane). The 3rd Med Lab served both Army and Navy personnel, including Base Section 3’s soldiers but it did not treat any patients. It conducted lab tests and undertook research. Medical supplies were satisfactory except that microscopes and certain dehydrated media (for growing bacterial cultures) were unprocurable.
The main laboratory was established in the University’s new building. Officers were quartered in an old house within the grounds. Enlisted men were accommodated in temporary wooden barracks nearby. The mess hall was located in another wooden structure and shower facilities, with hot and cold water, were available. Water was obtained from the Brisbane municipal supply. The unit reported that sanitation facilities were very satisfactory, food was sufficient and of good quality. On 17 January 1943, Detachment, “F” Company, 135th Medical Regiment (1 officer, 31 enlisted men) reinforced 3rd Med. Lab. Tents had to be erected near the existing barracks to house the new troops.
On 30 January 1943, Headquarters, 3rd Medical Laboratory was redesignated Stationary Section, 3rd Medical Laboratory with a new commander. Major G.T. Crout replaced, the now, Lieutenant Colonel Council. On 21 March 1943, Major J. H. Parker succeeded Crout. During February 1943, a stool survey was undertaken across the US 32nd Infantry Division. The division had been badly affected by topical diseases in the Buna Campaign and had been repatriated from Papua to Camp Cable at Logan in January. Within 950 stools examined, 6.95% contained hookworm while most of the intestinal parasites found were also hookworms. Beginning 1 March 1943 the Laboratory began examining malaria smears taken from those 32nd Division’s soldiers who suffered recurring attacks. Examining 1,000 smears, the unit’s laboratory found that 51% were positive. Starting in March, a general malaria survey targeted the 126th Infantry Regiment (32nd Division) to follow-up the anti-malarial treatment it received after its return from Papua. Of the 1,534 men examined, 2.5% were still positive.
Other unit tasks included routine water analysis, special serological, bacteriological, pathological, parasitological, food products and chemical examinations, investigations of epidemics or increased prevalence of diseases and distribution of special laboratory supplies. Pathologist Captain Austin J. Corbett reported on his findings on Scrub Typhus. Major James H. Park published a report on immunological reactions to Typhus vaccinations in US troops. On 1 July 1943, Major Park took temporary command of the unit. Colonel Francis E. Council was re-assigned to lead the unit on 12 August 1943. The operation of the Stationary Section ceased on 26 August 1943, when Headquarters, 8th Medical Laboratory replaced it at Yeerongpilly. The Stationary Section shipped to Port Moresby and resumed its headquarters role in the 3rd Med. Lab.
The 8th Med. Lab., including veterinary officers, reached Australia on 15 August 1943. A Malaria Control Training School run by the unit’s Headquarters detachment was organized at Brisbane. Classes began in September with two sessions held each week, one for line officers and one for medical officers. An average of 15 to 20 officers were in each class so a total of 1,500 to 2,000 men attended the School during nearly a year of operation. 8th Med. Lab. conducted an average monthly total of 82 bacteriological, 158 chemical and 101 physical tests or examinations on locally procured food products, including canned meats. Veterinarians ran the laboratory’s Animal Section (including up to 900 animals), rendered routine analysis of all water samples plus prepared biological tests for theatre-wide distribution. Outbreaks of food-borne infections were also investigated. Veterinary officers assisted in isolating and studying human influenza viruses plus the purification of a test antigen for the diagnosis of filariasis in troops. The 8th Med. Lab. transferred to Biak Island, Dutch New Guinea in October 1944.
US Army Telephone Dirctory Oct. 1943
CHIMS, Qld Heritage Register citation No.602598 - Animal Research Institute
3rd Medical Laboratory Unit History: http://med-dept.com/unit_histories/3_med_lab.php#australia.