Chemical Warfare Centre Impregnation Facility
Allan Border Field
- Brisbane City
1 Bogan Street, Albion 4010
Crosby Park, in the centre of a populous Brisbane suburb, was one of a number of local parks leased by the US Army. Despite its proximity to a large population base this park was designated as a Chemical Warfare Centre, and was operated by the 62nd Chemical Depot Company, aided by elements of the 10th Chemical Maintenance Company, and the 105th Chemical Processing Company. The Crosby Park site included a large 371′ x 104′ 'igloo' style warehouse with ancillary buildings including a 96′ x 48′ motor maintenance shed, and a gas mask repair shop of similar dimensions. Another large 'igloo' housed a clothing impregnation centre established by the 105th Chemical Processing Company.
The primary mission of the Chemical Processing Company was to keep available to theater chemical officers a supply of permeable protective clothing adequately and recently impregnated with chlorinating compounds so as to protect the wearer from the effects of vesicant vapor or droplets. The US Chemical Warfare Service provided an issue of protective clothing for troops in case of enemy chemical attack. As part of that protection one set of kahki cotton or woollen uniform was impregnated to make it resistant to chemical damage. These uniforms were held in forward storage facilities for quick issue for troops if necessary.
The 105th Chemical Processing Company trained at Edgewood Arsenal Camp Sibert during 1942. In May 1943 it left New York, arriving in Brisbane in June. It was initially established at Camp Doomben where it aided the Chemical Warfare Depot and base section headquarters until its impregnation plants arrived from the United States. The Processing companies were generally located near chemical depots, and consisted of two platoons totalling 146 men. Not long after arriving in Brisbane the 105th’s first platoon was sent to Sydney to aid the 62nd Chemical Depot Company based there to get an impregnation plant working. The platoon remained in Sydney until mid-February 1944 in an effort to provide a reserve of 70,000 protective uniforms for the US Army in the South West Pacific.
The Brisbane-based platoons continued aiding the Base 3 Chemical Officer, while another detachment was sent to Columboola to store and supervise 29000 mustard-gas bombs held there. In January 1944 an M1 type processing plant (using acetylene tetrachloride as a solvent) arrived in Brisbane and a building was constructed to house it. The M1 plant of 'two 400-gallon solution tanks, a predryer, two final dryers, and an impregnator, recognizably related to laundry-type drying and washing machines respectively, solvent recovery apparatus, a steam generator unit, complete with boiler and oil burner, an electric generator unit, a fuel tank, a water pump, and such auxiliary items as work tables, tool kits, and
spare parts. It weighed over 50 tons, and required a floor space of approximately 3600 square feet and a reinforced concrete floor. The return of the first platoon from Sydney aided the process and the plant was in operation at Crosby Park before the end of March 1944. First platoon was detached not long after and sent to Milne Bay in New Guinea.
The platoons each had three sections which could provide a continuous 8-hour operation of the plant, and second platoon was left to run the Brisbane plant. It continued to process protective clothing 24 hours a day until the beginning of October 1944, also dying the clothing a jungle green at the same time. Due to the chemical processes involved it was found that the clothing only lasted six months in storage before it became unserviceable.
Operation of the processing plant ceased in October 1944, and the 105th undertook work with the 62d Chemical Service Company and the Coopers Plains ordnance service centre while it awaited orders to move. The first platoon in Milne Bay was diverted to laundry and dry-cleaning operations there. It was not until mid-June 1945 that the 105th Chemical Processing Company left Brisbane to move to Luzon in the Phillipines.
 B E. Kleber And D Birdsell, The Chemical Warfare Service: Chemicals In Combat, Center Of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1966
G Plunkett, Chemical Warfare in Australia, Australian Military History Publications, Loftus, 2007
B E. Kleber And D Birdsell, The Chemical Warfare Service: Chemicals In Combat, Center Of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1966