6 (385th) Australian Heavy Anti-Aircraft (HAA) Battery

Caltex Oil Refinery

Greater Brisbane

Caltex Oil Refinery, South Street, Lytton 4178

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, Australia’s focus in the war turned to the Pacific. After the raid on Darwin in February 1942, many felt that as Brisbane was the largest city in Queensland, it would be the next to experience a large-scale raid by the Japanese.

The city was already designated as a staging point, with a significant US build-up underway, and the best port facilities in Queensland. Between March and July 1942 the Japanese conducted regular reconnaissance missions over Cairns and Townsville using long range twin-engine aircraft. Townsville was actually bombed three times in late July and the town of Mossman once. While the Japanese were able to penetrate Australia’s defences on these occasions, the May Battle of the Coral Sea prevented Japan from completing its objective of achieving large scale carrier based raids along the Queensland coast.


The 6 [385th] Australian Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery (or 6 HAA Group) was constructed in 1942, in an effort to monitor and prevent aircraft entering Brisbane airspace, using the Brisbane River as a navigational aid, and to provide protection for nearby Australian and US naval facilities located along the river. The 6 HAA Group was a collection of “A class” (four static guns) defensive positions. These included; Colmslie [385] (which became Lytton), Victoria Park [386] Balmoral [387], Pinkenba [388], Hendra [389], Hemmant [390], Amberley [391], and Archerfield [392].

The 6 HAA Group site retains four gun emplacements complete with magazines, and the control room which is characteristic of Australian Heavy Anti-Aircraft Batteries built in Brisbane and elsewhere in the state. The position was armed with four 3.7-inch static AA guns, the standard medium British anti-aircraft gun. A gun crew usually consisted of 10-12 men.

The reinforced concrete and cinder block gun emplacements at Lytton are octagonally shaped. The surrounding magazine/store rooms originally housed a sandbagged entry point with more bags placed on the magazine roof. Rooms contained rifle racks and anti gas equipment, 280 rounds of ammunition for the AA gun and canvas flap doors for the perimeter entrances. Hidden from aerial view, three separate underground magazines provided cool storage for high explosive rounds (since demolished).

The guns were controlled by a centrally located, semi-underground command post/plotting room. This contained instruments such as the spotter’s telescope, a height/range finder (Lytton used a No.3 Mark IV Type UB7 Rangefinder), and a predictor. Essentially an early computer, it was manually programmed to follow a target and took into account its course and speed as well as the projectile’s direction and velocity, with the object of predicting a future position where the two would meet. This information was relayed automatically to the gunlayers in each emplacement so that all guns were trained on the target area.

Personnel at the site consisted of both 6th Australian Heavy Anti-Aircraft and Volunteer Defence Corp (VDC) personnel from mid 1943. Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) were involved in operating instruments such as range finding and spotting, but generally not in the firing of the guns. In 1944 personnel on the battery had diminished to a care and maintenance role and for training purposes. By January 1945, 385th Australian HAA was listed as 'Scale C' Manning, with Lytton being disbanded. In August 1945 all HAA sites in Brisbane were disarmed and abandoned.


BCC Heritage citation.