United States (US) 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment Camp

Gordonvale Parachute Training Camp

Military camp

Alley Creek, Gillies Highway, Gordonvale 4865

Some 3500 men of the United State (US) 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, including the 501st Parachute Battalion and ‘A’ Company of the 504th Parachute Infantry Battalion, arrived somewhat unexpectedly in north Queensland after a long voyage across the Pacific, disembarking in Cairns on 2 December 1942. At Cairns the troops and their gear were loaded onto trucks and taken to an undeveloped camp area on the Gillies Highway south-west of Gordonvale. Their camp extended on both sides of the road near Alley Creek in the Riverstone area.


One of the main training jump sites in the district was Green Hill at Kamma, north of Gordonvale. General MacArthur and General Blamey inspected the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment at Gordonvale in June 1943 and witnessed a jump by the Regiment at Green Hill.

After completion of training the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment left Gordonvale for Cairns in August 1943, bound for Port Moresby. On the morning of 5 September the paratroopers were loaded into 82 C-47 transport aircraft assembled at eight airstrips in the Port Moresby area. Five aircraft carrying Australian gunners from the 2/4 Field Regiment accompanied the air armada over the Owen Stanley Range for the parachute assault on Japanese forces around Nadzab in the Markham River valley. They secured the Nadzab area for the construction of an airstrip from where the Australian 7th Division could be flown in to attack Lae from the landward side, while the 9th Division carried out an assault from the sea. Lae and Salamaua were taken by mid-September.


Vera Bradley. I Didn’t Know That: Cairns and districts Tully to Cape York, 1939–1946, Service personnel and civilians, Boolarong Press, Brisbane, 1995.

HC Morton, Mulgrave Shire Historical Society Bulletins 13-15, ca.1982.

Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993.

Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.

PD Wilson. North Queensland: WWII 1942–1945, Department of Geographic Information, Brisbane, 1988.