Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) No.3 Base Stores Depot (BSD)
Energex Depot site
- Supply facility
- Brisbane City
10 and 10A Bowen Bridge Road, Spring Hill 4000
Formed six months prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War, No.3 Base Stores Depot (BSD) was the main supply depot for RAAF units based in Brisbane. After 1942, the increasing number of such units led to an expansion of No.3 BSD from its original site behind Victoria Park into sites at Eagle Farm, Hendra, Breakfast Creek, Fortitude Valley, New Farm and Lang Park.
On 2 June 1941, the RAAF formed No.3 Base Stores Depot (BSD) led by Squadron Leader Ivor Watkins. Originally intended for Brisbane’s Exhibition Grounds, an advance party led by Squadron Leader Jack Watkins surveyed suitable sites on 20 May 1941. The 1941 'Ekka' would have been severely disrupted by the showgrounds use by the RAAF so Watkins chose another site just across the road. No.3 BSD was established at the Brisbane City Council Electricity Supply Depot warehouse located to the rear of Bowen Bridge Road corner of Victoria Park. The site was located close to a major roads and the Normanby rail line. Unit personnel lived nearby in requisitioned homes on Gregory Terrace—'Grangehill' for the men and 'Wybernia' for the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAFs). The first stores arrived by truck at the depot on 17 June.
Due to expanding commitments, No. 3 BSD required more storage areas. On 10 September 1941, the Austral Motors building in Wesley Street, New Farm was requisitioned. It was used as clothing storerooms. In January 1942, part of the Ford factory at Eagle Farm was leased for the construction of temporary stores buildings and offices. In response to the threat of the Japanese bombing of Queensland’s coastal cities, part of No.3 BSD was used to form a new No.7 BSD based inland at Drayton, near Toowoomba.
In August 1943, the complexity in the type of supplies required by the RAAF led to a new policy. No.3 BSD would handle non-technical supplies while technical supplies would go to no.7 BSD. So No.3 BSD transferred more staff to Drayton. Also in 1943, No.3 BSD did the nurse staffing and patient admissions administrative work for those RAAF personnel sent to the 126th Australian Special Hospital at Kangaroo Point or the Greenslopes Military Hospital.
1944 saw a major expansion of the facilities required by No.3 BSD. In May, two new warehouses were constructed at the Spring Hill depot site. Two wool stores off Nudgee Road at Hendra were requisitioned as stores warehouses on 21 June. In August, the unit’s Motor Transport Repair Section was formed at Lang Park sportsgrounds at Milton. The Overland Building in Ann Street, Fortitude Valley was taken over in September. On 1 November, Wing Commander Les Holten was posted to Brisbane as the unit’s new commander. He met his future wife at the welcoming party held in his honour.
As the United States (US) Air Force headed to the Philippines and relinquished its leases, No.3 BSD expanded further into Fortitude Valley. At the end of January 1945, the headquarters of No.3 BSD moved into the John McGrath Motors Building in Wickham Street. The building was formerly occupied by the US 81st Air Depot Group’s supply store. A Central Purchasing Office soon joined the No.3 BSD H.Q. at the John McGrath Building. That same month, the clothing store moved from New Farm to the Hendra wool stores. Despite this dispersal of No.3 BSD across Brisbane’s northern suburbs, a full unit parade was held every Tuesday morning at the Spring Hill depot site.
After the war ended in September 1945, No.3 BSD transferred many of its sub-units to former US Army motor pool and depot sites at Cannon Hill and Eagle Farm. The unit finally left the Brisbane City Council Electricity Supply Depot at Spring Hill on 17 June 1947.
Woff M.D. Moore, 'History of the Early RAAF Stores Depots and Other Equipment Units, Part 2", RAAF SUPPLY, pp.41-44.
National Archives of Australia