Grovely Army Camp

1st Australian Motor Transport Training Depot

Training facility
Greater Brisbane

Madsen Street, Keperra 4054

By February 1943, the 1st Australian Motor Transport Training Depot at the Grovely Camp, in what is now the Brisbane suburb of Keperra, was the largest of its kind in the Commonwealth. The training facility offered courses to military drivers, both men and women, and was churning out more than 120 trained drivers per week.

The camp and depot straddled the rail line at Grovely and bordered the Keperra Golf Course. Consisting of instructional huts and facilities, there were also workshops, and YMCA and Salvation Army huts, servicing the troops.


Training courses included motor cycles, trucks and Bren-gun carriers. Courses equipped the graduate with both theoretical and practical knowledge and experience to handle most vehicles.

In addition to the practical driving component, thorough instruction was provided in mechanisation and maintenance. Proficiency was essential and not all participants made the grade. Those who failed to meet the requirements were sent back to their units.

Commanded by a Middle East veteran, Captain Duncan Russell, a pre-war car sales manager, the unit had a single duty to produce qualified technicians. The studnets were lectured in discipline maintenance, map reading and full mechanics. Captain Russell, in a 'Courier Mail' article on the 17 February 1943, indicated:

Motor transport is the life line of the army. If a M.T. driver fails through lack of direction, faulty motor or unskilful handling of his vehicle, that negligence might mean a battle lost or the lives of his comrades.

Many Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) service personnel attended the courses at the camp and reports indicated that they performed extremely well. AWAS were mostly trained for town and ordinary road driving, but were required to undertake the same mechanical instruction.


National Archives of Australia - Series BP378/1 and J1018

Australian War Memorial Collection

Ann and Ross Brett (Daughter of Captain Duncan Russell, CO, 1st AMTTD).